A PLEA has been made to help keep rural churches open and running on the Lizard Peninsula.

The four parishes of the Meneage Benefice - Mawgan, St Martin, Manaccan and St Anthony - have not had a vicar for the last six months, since the departure of Rev Lesley Walker to become Bishop's Chaplain.

Although not an unusual situation, with the process to find a new priest hopefully due to begin early in March with a view to potentially appointing someone in May, it means that the onus on keeping the churches going so that they are there for weddings, funerals and baptisms is falling on a small core of volunteers.

Coupled with this is the fact that that it is "highly unlikely" that when a priest is appointed that they will be full-time, as this would not be affordable.

Writing in the Meneage Messenger this month, the churchwardens of the collective parishes said: "We

do not have enough personnel to keep everything going.

"There is a huge amount of voluntary time spent on fundraising, general maintenance and sheer volume of paperwork and administration, some of which is accomplished by non-churchgoers.

"We are so grateful for this help, but with a diminishing number of people attending church the bulk of the work falls on fewer and fewer people.

"If you wish to have the facility of a church open in each parish for baptisms, weddings, funerals, weekly services, private prayer, social events and a focus for our villages then we need help."

To this end, St Martin Church hopes to hear from people with ideas on how to move forward - particularly in light of the village school closing.

Replies can be sent, anonymously if preferred, to Jenny Stanbury at Lower Relowas, St Martin, TR12 6EF or Annabel Phillips, The Orchard, St Martin, TR12 6BU.

They said in the Messenger: "Our finances remain good. We maintain the fabric of the building to an adequate standard but we are lacking the people to maintain and administer the running of the church.

"We would very much appreciate your responses as to how we proceed."

People are also encouraged to attend any of the annual church meetings that will take place in each parish before the end of April.