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Rutland church hosts event to mark end of £5m bat scheme

A five-year project that has helped bats co-exist with churchgoers has been hailed a success as it comes to an end.

All Saints Church in Braunston-in-Rutland faced closure due to problems caused by its resident bats.

A five-year project that has helped bats co-exist with churchgoers has been hailed a success as it comes to an end.

The £5m Bats in Churches scheme helped save the 1,000-year-old All Saints Church in Braunston-in-Rutland, plagued with problems due to bat faeces.

Sue Willetts, churchwarden, said it was delighted to have been a pilot church for the scheme.

"Without the help from the project, it's very likely that the church would have been closed," she said.

"That's honestly how desperate the situation had become."

The bats were using holes in the ceiling to enter the church, and bat droppings could be found on most floors and walls.

Bats are protected in the UK

Following surveys, a specialist ecologist concluded there was no need for bats to fly inside the church and recommended the temporary blocking of the holes in the ceiling to stop the bats accessing the church from the roost.

Once surveys confirmed this had not affected the number of bats using the church, the holes were permanently blocked in April 2019.

Since then, regular surveys have shown the colony of soprano pipistrelles continues to thrive, but with no mess or nuisance inside the church.

Bats in Churches has been a partnership between the Church of England, Natural England, the Churches Conservation Trust, Historic England and the Bat Conservation Trust, with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Working in more than 100 ancient churches across England, it also ran a citizen science project surveying more than 700 churches for bats.

The conclusion of the project in October is being celebrated next month with a multimedia art installation at All Saints.

On A Wing And A Prayer was commissioned by Bats in Churches and created by volunteer Ilene Sterns, and after visiting All Saints it will take up permanent residence at the church of St Peter in Wintringham, North Yorkshire.

The Blue Ball pub in Braunston will also be hosting a Beer and Bars night with children's activities, bat talks, stalls and refreshments.

Rose Riddell, engagement officer at Bats in Churches, said the work at All Saints "had been a huge success story".

"[It] perfectly encapsulates the purpose of the project, which is to help church communities find ways to live in harmony with their resident bats," she said.


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