AN Otley church has come up with a novel way to raise church

funds - the vicar is actually giving money away.

The Rev Graham Buttanshaw, pictured right, vicar of All Saints Church in Otley is offering the children of All Saints Junior School £2 each and is praying that they will not spend the money on sweets or computer games.

Mr Buttanshaw explained: "It is a fundraising idea. We are giving away the money to see what they can do with it. It all goes back to the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25) in the bible."

The idea is that the children use the coins to miraculously generate more cash. The church has set aside a fund of £1,700 to invest in the scheme and the vicar is confident that they will recuperate their money. "We're not going to end up with any less than we started with," he said.

The Rev Buttanshaw said some of the children may use the money to buy a jar of coffee and run a coffee morning, others may buy paint and sell their pictures and others may buy seeds and plant sunflowers to sell.

The church is facing a £22,000 bill for repairs, including mending a couple of stained glass windows which are now badly bowed. Churchwardens have been told that a strong easterly gale could easily blow the windows in.

Now the church is turning to the bible for inspiration to repair their church.

Mr Buttanshaw explained: "A couple of years ago, work began to solve major problems in the roof. These problems have been sorted, at a total cost of about £100,000. The church itself has had to raise half of this sum, through its 'Open to All' Appeal, and we are very grateful for the help of the local community in raising the money. Leaks from the roof have meant that there are some minor repairs and a major re-decoration job needed - it's very obvious when you go into the church. These 'second-stage' jobs will cost about £22,000 in all - it's a big church to decorate."

The stained glass windows which need to be repaired, depict Christ and the four apostles in the five main panels. "Three years ago we got an estimate of £16,000 to repair it. We are waiting for a firm to come and give a full condition report which will include current costings. We hope we may get a 50 per cent grant for this, but it still leaves a lot of money to be raised," said the Rev Buttanshaw.

The Use Your Talents fundraiser is also open to the parents and guardians of children at All Saints Junior School, who will be offered £5 .

The money was given out last Friday and the children can return the money any time within the next three months, but the Rev Buttanshaw was quick to assure that there would be no questions asked if the money is not used wisely. "If you do your best and it doesn't work, we won't ask for our money back," he said. "That's our risk."

Rev Buttanshaw is pictured with Asis Patel, nine. (16-26-AH)

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