The legacy of a Bitterne resident goes towards regenerating Holy Saviour Church for local community

    Diocesan News
    16 March 2021

    Money left by a member of the Bitterne community has part funded redevelopments which will ensure Holy Saviour Church can continue to enrich the lives of the community it serves.

    Due to the generous legacy left by John Shepard, who lived in Bitterne for 93 years, Holy Saviour Church has been able to begin its first stage of developments which will feature a large two-storey extension to the existing Church Room.

    John Shepard, who sadly passed away in 2018 lived in his Bitterne home since he was born in 1924 and was educated at Holy Saviour Church School. He attended Holy Saviour from youth and was actively involved in church affairs. He eventually enjoyed pastoral care with home communion at his house due to illness.

    In the wake of the pandemic, Holy Saviour Church hopes the creation of additional space will provide opportunities for people to come together to support one another and offer healing following a difficult period of isolation and loneliness. The extension work will ultimately provide the community with much needed space for local groups to hire, as well as creating a café, debt centre and a crucial food bank resource.

    Reverend Tony Palmer, Vicar at Holy Saviour Church said: “We at Holy Saviour owe enormous thanks to this generous and dear gentleman for the substantial legacy he has left to our Church. At Holy Saviour we are passionate about serving our local community in ways that make a real difference to their lives. There is no escaping the fact that Holy Saviour is prominently placed on the top of the hill and visible for miles around. Our dream is that Holy Saviour will be a beacon of hope, a sanctuary for those in need and a place where the whole community can gather and experience the welcome of Jesus.”

    The extension to the 1990’s Church Room building will enable Holy Saviour to be open 7 days a week and will allow the church to develop and enhance partnerships with community groups and local charities such as Transforming Lives for Good, Christians Against Poverty, Southampton City Mission, and the Carraway Trust. The church has a long-standing history of working with families and young people. As the new space becomes available it will enable more outreach programs to support vulnerable children, as well as developing partnerships that will provide poverty and debt relief and alleviate social isolation.

    Right Reverend, Debbie Sellin Bishop of Southampton said: 

    “Being part of the local community is what our mission is about. The redevelopment of Holy Saviour will ensure we can continue to offer our communities a place to come together and join in friendship. All of these things have become increasingly important as we begin to recover from a world of isolation brought on by the pandemic.”

    Holy Saviour Church was originally built in the Victorian Gothic style in 1853 and is the largest in the area with its octagonal spire standing at 120 feet high. The second stage of redevelopment is expected to begin later in the year and will focus on creating a more flexible space within the current historical church building. The work will include the removal of the pews, levelling off the floor and provision of a more appropriate heating system, which will all provide a large space intended to be used for far more than just ‘conventional’ worship and on a daily basis.