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Bats in Churches – Challenges and Solutions: An Event for Church Wardens

12 July 2013

Venue: The Collegiate Holy Trinity Church of Tattershall, Diocese of Lincoln

Date: Tuesday 30 July 2013

Start time: 4 pm

This event is free to all church wardens in Lincolnshire, however pre-booking is essential.

Church Wardens interested in attending please contact:  Laura Bambini, Churches Officer. E-mail: lbambini@bats.org.uk with details on your church.

The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) working in partnership with Holy Trinity Church in Tattershall to run an event for church wardens and those who look after church buildings where there are bats.

The event is being organised by BCT’s Churches Officer, Laura Bambini, the church wardens at the Collegiate Holy Trinity, and local bat worker Ian Nixon. The event is part of BCT’s Bats, Churches and Communities pilot project that BCT would like to roll out nationwide - pending funding.

Laura Bambini, BCT Churches Officer says: “We are bringing experts together to give church wardens the opportunity to discuss and explore solutions to bat-related issues they find in their church. I hope this event will increase collaboration between bat workers and the church community.”

The church warden event is designed to demonstrate practical solutions for churches with bats and to learn about what measures have worked elsewhere. The event is also an opportunity for church warden to share experiences and to raise on-going concerns. Participants are encouraged to take advantage of the knowledge and experience of church wardens and bat workers present. Church wardens will also get the chance to meet some bats up close!

Laura Bambini, David Mullenger and Ian Nixon

Talking at the event will be Holy Trinity Church Warden, David Mullenger.

David is very pragmatic when it comes to the bats in his church:

As far as Tattershall Church is concerned the relationship that we have built up with the Voluntary Bat Workers who look after us has proved to be essential.

I have been here since 1974 and the bats were here before me. We have a team who have worked to accommodate the bats, initially, not because we wanted to but because we had to. We view our bats as a challenge, not a problem! You simply have to find a solution, to make life easier,  so we do.  We have coverings over our brasses, a roof over our kitchen area  and a new plastic roof over the Lady Chapel means the Chapel is now back in use after 16 years – we get to use the space while the bats have their young high above. We have information boards up in the church all about the bats and now get visitors who come to see the bats. We use the bats for education – this means that our buildings are used more.”

Holy Trinity in Tattershall has a close working relationship with local bat volunteer Ian Nixon –who will also be talking at the event. He says:

“It's key for churches and local conservationists to develop good relationships.  Ever since I started to work with the people at Tattershall church we have developed a way of working to ensure that both the church needs and those of the bats are met.  I am kept informed about long term plans so that arrangements can be made, surveys done and work scheduled ahead of time.  We also use this great resource to educate others about nature.”

Notes:

The church: The Collegiate Church of Holy Trinity, Tattershall is one of the finest examples of Perpendicular architecture in England, and receives over 30,000 visitors annually. This Grade I listed building dates back to 1500 and contains superb decorative carvings, brasses, delicate window tracery and a magnificent timber ceiling.

The Bats: The Holy Trinity Church is also home to an unusual diversity of bats. Over 500 soprano pipistelles roost in the nave, and up to 120 Daubenton’s bats are using the north porch. Brown long-eared bats, Natterer’s bats, common pipistrelles and Nathusius’ pipistrelles can be encountered inside the building. 

Partnerships and solutions: The Lincolnshire bat group got involved in 1985 to help the church with the problems caused by the bats. Over the years, a strong partnership has developed and today the church hosts regular bat worker training events. Visitors to the church are greeted by friendly volunteers who explain about the bats and the implications to the congregation of sharing the building with them. Information boards and leaflets provide additional information. From Easter to September, when bats are most active in the church, all surfaces are cleaned and disinfected daily. Many of the heritage objects are permanently protected from bat droppings and urine by purpose-built covers, and pews have been removed from the nave to save on cleaning costs. 

The Bats, Churches and Communities pilot project is working with churches, communities and volunteers to build partnerships, develop the available help and support and explore practical, cost-effective solutions. It is a pilot project due to end in August - a longer term large-scale programme is needed to ensure all church communities get the help they need.  This project has developed draft guidance for parishes, written solution-focused studies for the Church Care website and supported new bat worker training.  The continuation of this project is a key strategy for helping churches but we currently don’t have the funding needed.

Contacts for further information: Abi McLoughlin, Press officer. E-mail: amcloughlin@bats.org.uk Office: 0207 8207183 Mobile: 07974779521. Laura Bambini, Churches Officer. E-mail: lbambini@bats.org.uk Mobile: 07548 983 512. David and Ian can be contacted through us for interviews.

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