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West Hoathly church to get first toilet in 924-year history in £200,000 upgrade

By East Grinstead Courier  |  Posted: April 05, 2014

AMBITIOUS PLANS: Reverend Lionel Whatley outside St Margaret's Church in West Hoathly, which will undergo a £200,000 renovation

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A CHURCH in West Hoathly is aiming to raise £200,000 to build much-needed facilities, including the first toilet in the church's 924-year history.

St Margaret's in North Lane began putting together plans to replace the existing vestry with a two-storey building back in February.

The new plans would accommodate a toilet, a modern vestry with a floor for the children's Sunday School and basic kitchen facilities – additions the Reverend Lionel Whatley says the church needs urgently.

Mr Whatley, who is originally from South Africa and moved to the UK with his family 15 years ago, explained: "Jesus never had a toilet!

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"We've coped for this long, but really we have many elderly parishioners and families with young children who need the facilities.

"We have lots of weddings and funerals here and it can be terribly uncomfortable for people."

The church received a £20,000 donation on the very first day they announced the plans.

"It must be a sign," Mr Whatley added. "Peter Johnson, who has been heading up the fundraising, had just announced the changes we wanted to make and the money we would need.

"On the same day we received the £20,000 legacy. But we still have a long way to go."

This spring, they are launching an appeal to help fund the second-storey extension, which will be in keeping with the ancient church's original look and materials.

It is hoped the new facility will be able to cater for more of the primary school pupils who attend West Hoathly CofE Primary School nearby. Currently they are only able to teach ten pupils at a time, but hope to be able to teach up to 50, when the building is completed.

Building work is intended to begin soon with the aim of finishing work by Christmas 2015.

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