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Billingford Church Restoration

At SymClean Industrial, we take pride in supporting various industries and sectors throughout the UK with our commercial and industrial cleaning services. We are also committed to ensuring our impact extends beyond business, and includes our community and demonstrating our corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Earlier this year, SymClean Industrial was contacted by St Peter’s Church, which was struggling with a pigeon infestation. Find out how SymClean supported this church to solve its problems in this church restoration case study below.

Background

Churches are pillars in many communities and small towns in the UK. These buildings are often the oldest and most historical establishments in towns and cities, holding significant cultural and architectural value. 

Unfortunately, due to the age of many churches, problems can arise with upkeep and preservation. From structural problems to maintenance issues, the upkeep of churches requires significant resources – time, skill and money. 

Churches often operate on limited budgets, relying heavily on donations and volunteer efforts. This financial limitation can make addressing problems particularly challenging. When issues arise, churches require specialised services that can ensure the consideration of historical value while providing effective solutions, within budget constraints.

Case study: Billingford Church Restoration 

About Billingford Church and Their Problem:

St Peters Church resides in a small village in Norwich, Billingford. This village church is a pillar of its local community. The church has been an integral part of the community for generations, facilitating the christenings, weddings, and burials of countless villagers over the years. Because of this, the village takes responsibility for ensuring its upkeep.

Like many churches, they were forced to close their doors in 2020 due to the pandemic. The church did not manage to reopen after the multiple lockdowns and restrictions. During its closure, the upkeep of the church declined and problems began to arise.

A huge problem was caused when a glass window broke, unknown to the residents. This broken window pane became the entry point for pests, leading to a significant infestation of pigeons and their droppings. At times, the church was home to as many as 30 pigeons, creating a significant problem that seemed insurmountable. Some villagers even feared that the church was beyond repair, considering it a lost cause.

Having previously used the services of StuLee Cleaning Specialists, now part of The SymClean Group, for church restoration cleaning services, the villagers reached out to us for further advice on their infestation.

As part of our traditional process, we had an initial call and then surveyed the church’s situation.

Upon our visit, we met with the church committee and found out the story behind the church, and their goals to reopen for Easter, bringing the community together for this special occasion. Operatives from SymClean Industrial conducted a thorough assessment and provided a quotation for the work required for complete restoration.

The church had planned to rely on funding to finance the cost of restoration. The church committee managed to secure funding, however, the amount received only contributed to a fraction of the required work.

“It felt like it was beyond sorting”

Deterred by this, the committee informed us that the available funding was insufficient, meaning they could not use SymClean’s services. However, after understanding this unfortunate situation, we still wanted to help. 

SymClean Industrial committed to providing the remainder of the church restoration service free of charge, covering any additional costs.

SymClean Industrial prides itself on the work we do for the community, both locally and nationally. Last year, we acquired StuLee Cleaning specialists, creating another base for SymClean. Billingford is just outside of Dereham, where our southern office is based. Supporting the people of Billingford allowed us to help the local community.

Work Completed:

Once the agreement had been made for specialist cleaning company, SymClean Industrial, to complete the church restoration project, it was time to get to work.  

The severeness of the pigeon infestation provided a challenge. Pigeon droppings blanketed every surface, seeping into carpets, cushions, and delicate, historical furnishings.

This challenge required a strategic approach to ensure complete restoration. SymClean Industrial hygiene operatives followed this approach:

Before Images
  1. Debris Removal: The first step was to enlist our industrial cleaning team. This toxic debris removal requires specialist skill, experience and strict safety standards. Our team removed soiled carpets, ruined cushions, and debris from broken furniture. This vital step created a foundation for restoration and ensured a safe working environment for the rest of our teams.
  2. Initial Clean: Once any harmful debris and toxicants were removed, an initial clean was required. This clean addressed the problems created, especially stubborn stains and odours. Specialist equipment and products were required for this stage.
  3. Furniture Salvage: Unfortunately, the pigeon infestation damaged furniture too. One of our primary goals was to salvage and restore as much as we could, to conserve and honour the church’s heritage. This factor of the restoration required delicate cleaning methods to revive delicate fabrics and intricate woodwork.
  4. Specialist Final Deep Clean: Once the areas were decontaminated and the interiors were resorted, a deep clean was required. Our commercial team were enlisted to complete a thorough sanitisation process. This was the final clean of the church restoration, removing any indication of a pigeon infestation, and creating a hygienic environment for worship and community gatherings.

Considerations:

This project required thorough planning and consideration due to the scope of the project. From the church building to the nature of the issue. Considerations for a church restoration include: 

  1. Building Significance: The church, like most, is a type 1 listed building. Holding significant historical and architectural value, all cleaning efforts must be undertaken with this in mind. When cleaning we had to consider heritage features, such as stained glass windows, ornate woodwork, and ancient stonework. Compliance with conservation laws, such as the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 in England, was crucial throughout this cleaning process.
  2. Environmental Impact: The nature of the problem meant that we needed to use a lot of products. In addition to the pigeon infestation, we had to consider the presence of bats within the church. Cleaning products and procedures were carefully selected to minimise disruption and remove harm to the environment and surroundings.
  3. Health and Safety: Pigeon droppings are toxic and pose a health hazard due to the potential transmission of diseases. Cryptococcus is a disease which is caused by pigeon droppings, if this fungus is breathed in, it can be fatal. Stringent health and safety protocols were required to ensure the SymClean Operatives and any other people on site were protected. Measures included strict guidelines, PPE and ventilation. 
  4. Equipment Required: This project required rigid cleaning methods whilst also considering the delicate interior. Our teams had to carefully handpick the equipment used to ensure it was able to effectively remove pigeon droppings while preserving delicate surfaces.

Results:

Upon completion of this project, the church was restored, back to what ‘seemed impossible’. The pigeon infestation and its impact were effectively eliminated by our teams, assisting the church committee in getting one step closer to reopening. 

After losing hope, the committee were astonished and grateful to see their beloved church restored to its former grandeur. 

The church interior, now free from pigeon droppings and debris, offers a welcoming environment for worshippers and visitors. The church committee is eager to reopen and resurrect the church, reinstating it as a central hub for religious and community events. 

Billingford Church Restoration - Benches before an after

Virginia Edgecombe, a member of the Billingford Church committee commented

“Our experience with SymClean Industrial/StuLee Cleaning Specialists during our challenging ordeal was nothing short of extraordinary. Their generosity and willingness to lend a helping hand when all seemed lost were truly remarkable. What appeared to be an impossible situation was turned into a reality, thanks to their invaluable assistance.”

“Our village church holds a special place in our hearts and community. Our first issue, like many, was when the pandemic forced its closure. Then when the infestation happened, we really feared for its future. The broken window became an open invitation for up to thirty pigeons at a time, leaving us feeling disheartened and overwhelmed. But thanks to SymClean, a glimmer of hope emerged.”

“The commitment, dedication and generosity of the SymClean team were evident from the outset. Despite the challenges posed by the freezing conditions and the monumental task ahead, they approached the church restoration with positivity and hard work. Each member of the team became a source of joy and inspiration, transforming our church from a desolate state to a symbol of resilience and renewal.”

“As we now stand on the road to recovery, thanks to SymClean & StuLee, we are filled with hope and optimism for the future. Our beloved church, steeped in history and significance, is once again becoming a focal point for our community. With plans underway to establish service patterns and address additional maintenance needs, we look ahead with excitement and gratitude.”

“Thank you again to SymClean and all of your work. The people within this organisation truly embody the spirit of compassion and dedication, turning challenges into triumphs and paving the way for a brighter tomorrow.”

Tanya, Managing Director of SymClean Industrial added:

“I couldn’t be prouder of our team’s exceptional work on the St Peter’s Church restoration project. Witnessing the transformation from a disturbed space to a restored sanctuary has been truly rewarding. We are proud to have been involved in revitalising the church and the wider community. Good luck to Ginnie, and everyone on the reopening of your Church”.

SymClean Industrial are proud to have supported St Peter’s Church Restoration.  This project was completed in addition to our other efforts to give back to the communities in which we operate. Find out more about our other CSR projects here.

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