Old Town church is in need of a new roof

Nick Woodall
Nick Woodall

Eastbourne GP and parishioner Nick Woodall will be running in a 50-mile marathon this weekend to raise money for a new roof at St Gregory’s Catholic Church.

Nick Woodall hopes to raise awareness and cash for the plight of the Victoria Drive church’s roof by taking part in the South Downs 50 tomorrow (Saturday).

The ultramarathon from Worthing to Eastbourne is along the South Downs Way and open to only 400 runners.

Nick said, “The roof at St Gregory’s has been letting in water for some time. It is a marvellous building, dating back to 1965 and came with a roof designed to last only 25 years, so it’s done very well to reach almost 50 years.”

The cost of replacing the roof is estimated to be around £80,000 and parishioners at all the Catholic churches across the town and beyond have been coming up with fundraising ideas.

Nick said, “It is the first time I have attempted such a distance. Only 400 places are allocated on a first come first served basis and in a twist of good fortune, the Beachy Head Marathon which I ran last year became my qualifying run for this run, which is almost double the distance.

“I estimate it will take me around 13 hours to complete depending on my temperamental left knee and my sense of direction in the dark.

“The church is the same age as the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton so both will celebrate their Golden Jubilee next year. What better way to celebrate this than by trying to keep the vibrant congregation of St Greg’s dry?

“There is no big pot of money in the Diocese for this sort of project, so it is very much down to us, and could be seen as yet another opportunity to invest in the fabric of our churches as our predecessors once did and as our children will have to do in years to come.”

Nick is hoping people will donate to his run and donations can be made at the parish office of Our Lady of Ransom in Grange Road.

He said, “My 50 mile run itself will achieve no actual good; it’s just a crazy way of burning up 6000 calories in 12 hours; but if it gives me the opportunity to raise awareness of the plight of St Gregory’s roof, then that is where the good is done – not from what I do, but what others can do in response.”

The race finished at Eastbourne Sports Club Athletics Track.