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Launch event marked by announcement of first corporate supporters
Major names from the worlds of media, property and finance have lent their support to the official launch of the INSPIRE! Appeal to save St Bride's Church, Fleet Street.
News International, a London based property developer and a major American bank have provided the appeal's first corporate donations which will be added to the £300,000 that the Church itself has committed - its entire reserves for this year. Pre-launch publicity, examples of which can been viewed on this page, has also resulted in donations from the general public totalling some £40,000.
The Appeal was launched by a lecture at the Church by noted author, historian and Wren expert Adrian Tinniswood who reminded an audience of invited guests and members of the congregation of the importance of St Bride's within the canon of the "greatest architect this country has ever produced". Introduced by Appeal Working Group Chairman and Chairman of Design Council Cabe, Paul Finch OBE, Tinniswood talked of the 'inner circle' of churches designed by Wren himself, rather than one of his team of assistants, of which St Bride's is a leading example.
The support of News International reinforces the Church's ongoing link with the media, despite it having vacated Fleet Street some years ago. Often referred to as the 'journalists' church' it continues to be the venue for weddings, funerals and other events for members of the press. News International proprietor Rupert Murdoch is a familiar face, frequently visiting when he is in the UK.
Negotiations are also well underway with a London based property developer to make a donation to the restoration of the spire while a major American investment bank is talking to St Bride's about the first step towards the establishment of a Wren Centre, the first central source for the study of the great architect's work in the UK.
Welcoming the donations, Patron of the INSPIRE! Appeal and Master of the Worshipful Company of Paviors, Sir Michael Bear said:
"It is fantastic to be able to start our campaign with two substantial donations. When we consider with excitement the new buildings that are appearing all over the City of London, we mustn't forget the historic fabric that makes such a vital contribution to making the capital great. St Bride's is an example of this; part of the glue that holds the city skyline together."
"This support is, however, just the beginning of the campaign and we still have a long way to go to guarantee the future of this fantastic and important building."
The INSPIRE! Appeal aims to secure at least £2.5 million during 2012 for essential repair and conservation work to its magnificent spire which has deteriorated over time with damage to stonework now causing serious concern. Without vital work the building - which is open to visitors from all over the world seven days a week - could be forced to close.
In addition to damaged stonework, grime has built up over the last 40 years since the church was cleaned, with carbon deposits an inch deep in some places. Once the spire has been renovated, the aim is to restore it to its former glory and undertake much needed work to the interior, which has remained untouched for more than 30 years.