St John’s, Sharow near Ripon has become only the fourth church in the Diocese of Leeds to gain an Eco Church Award.
The news comes at the end of the church’s Cherishing Our Churchyard Week, which saw local schools and charities assisting with biodiversity surveys, moth captures and churchyard trails.
The award was presented by Jemima Parker, Diocesan Environment Officer (pictured second on the left), to William Howe, a young member of the congregation (third on the left), and Simon Grenfell, Churchwarden. Holding a new scythe is Associate Priest at Sharow, the Revd Ruth Newton (pictured right).
The churchyard provides an oasis for wildlife and the increasingly rare MG5 grassland, described as a ‘time capsule’ for Britain’s meadows. Simon Warwick, one of the key volunteers for the site, said, “It contains a lot of species you would have seen 100 years ago and really now reflects very nice hay meadow. We’ve lost about 95% of this habitat across the country.
"What is very nice is the number of species which have been seen in recent years, it really is quite exciting. It really goes to demonstrate what sympathetic management can do.”
During the week, Steve Tomlin, one of the UK’s top experts on scything, instructed several volunteers on how to cut the grass in the conservation area using the church’s new scythes, which have been purchased thanks to funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Joe Priestley, St John’s Heritage Learning Officer, said, ‘It was wonderful to see the churchyard so alive and we are working towards an annual celebration of the site. We are fully committed to caring for the environment around us and we are now working towards the silver Eco Church award.’
If you wish to find out more or help to preserve the churchyard at St John’s, then you can find out more at stjohnssharow.org.uk.