Sark Sanctuary Centre
The small congregation of Sark Methodist Church have long been at the heart of community life on the island. The church plays an important role on the island, supporting people of all ages. In recent years, however, it had become apparent that to continue this support new facilities were required.
An extension to the existing church building, Sark Sanctuary Centre was officially opened in April 2017. Built to be flexible and adaptable to the changing needs of the community, the centre will transform how the church is able to operate on a day to day basis.
Speaking to Premier Construction Channel Islands about the project, Reverend Karen Le Mouton said:
“Simply put, the centre has been built to serve community needs. When I first came here the previous pastor had started conversations with the church congregation about how we could serve the community in a better way. I continued these conversations and listened to key people in the community as to what they felt were the short, medium and long-term needs of Sark.”
It was decided that these needs centred on children and families who were no longer being served by the wooden school that was nearing the end of its usage. A new, purpose built building was seen as the logical next step. Construction on the centre began in January 2016, taking just over a year to complete.
“It has been built directly out of the back of the church, like an extension. Downstairs is what you would probably call a medium sized hall and a large, fully equipped kitchen that can be used for public events. There are also two wet rooms downstairs, one of which has baby changing facilities. A quiet room can be used for more confidential meetings of up to eight people.
“Upstairs we have toilets and a shower so if we have people staying over for whatever reason there are appropriate facilities. We’ve got two rooms which are joined double doors that can be folded back to make one large room. This space has fantastic views out across the Channel Islands to one side and the countryside to the other.
“With the upstairs space, because of the cost of electricity on the island is so high, we needed as much natural light as possible so during daylight hours the lights didn’t need to be on. The upstairs space is phenomenal; it’s a wonderful, lovely, calm and peaceful area.”
The notion of serving the community was maintained during the build process with only tenders from local companies accepted to help both the economy and employment. The Island Building Company acted as the main contractor on the project, overcoming inclement weather conditions during the early months of construction to make sure it remained on schedule.
Sark Sanctuary Centre was officially opened on Saturday 22nd April by His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey, Vice-Admiral Sir Ian Corder. Reflecting on initial feedback to the centre and the project as a whole, Karen concluded:
“It’s a flexible enough space so that as needs change, over time it can be used in a variety of ways. Feedback has been really positive with people commenting on how well it has been done. I keep looking at the centre and thinking ‘what a wonderful gift to the community’. We can’t thank people enough for the support they have given us.”