Project Aurora – we’ve done it!

Upgrading the church lighting and audio visual systems
and decorating the upper walls

About Project Aurora


In 1963, electric lighting was introduced into the nave. These fittings have served well for half a century. Originally, the lamps were changed, as and when they failed, by the intrepid wardens of the day using ladders. In latter days, the fire brigade changed them for us. The problem is accessing them as ladders are no longer permitted to be used at this height.  

Late in 2016, the lamps started to fail again and so it was decided, as the cost of access is so great, that we should take this moment to consider replacing the system with modern, cheap to run lighting. We then realised that we didn’t have the expertise to choose between the solutions being offered and so, with diocesan advice, appointed a professional to design a lighting system.  The brief was to provide a lighting system that would be cheap to run, more easily accessible, able to provide general lighting, but also programmable to allow ambient lighting for special services. The church is also being used increasingly often for concerts, both by community groups and our own musicians and choirs, all of whom need better lighting than we have at present.

The present sound system is very basic with five fixed, one roving and two lapel microphones. It was designed for how the church was being used in 2005. Services and general use have evolved since then and so it is necessary to upgrade the system. Also there is an increasing need for a fixed projector and screen.

In 2014, there was a problem with the West Wall; after repairs it was painted to disguise the repairs. The colour transformed the church and enthused many of the congregation to find a way to decorate the rest of the church. The actual work is not particularly expensive; however the access cost was prohibitive. Thus it seems sensible to grab the opportunity, while access is in place, to decorate the walls.

The 2018 plan

The work can be split into three phases, allowing more time for fundraising and so that some parts of the church can be used while the rest is inaccessible due to scaffolding etc. Based on one sample quote tendered in 2018 this can be broken down as follows:

Phase 1:  Chancel, vestry and AV installation 
Phase 2:  Nave
Phase 3:  Nave, side aisles and Lady Chapel

We have many suggestions and plans for organising fund raising events in 2019 and beyond. These include concerts, flower festival, auction of promises, barn dance,  talent challenge, vintage sale, plant sales, gala dinner, etc.

We are exploring grants and trust funds who might be willing to support projects of this type.

We will be asking for direct donations towards the project and would be very grateful for any fund raising suggestions and/or help with events.


Long term benefits

When we replace the lighting system, this fine building will be able to continue to be used for many different functions, both for services and concerts. An upgraded AV system will allow a wider variety of uses and for different services to be held. The decorating of the upper walls will make the whole church more welcoming and appealing to the congregation and the community in general. St James’ Church is a thriving church, and a successful outcome of this project will allow this to continue and grow.

Update May 2021

We've done it!

First of all, THANKYOU, for all your help in fulfilling this project.   

The installation eventually took place in May. Two very efficient engineers arrived from the West Country late on a Monday morning and disgorged all the equipment from their vans.

Vicky and Noel met them, together with the church Architect, to welcome them and check that we were all in agreement about what was to be done. They then proceeded to remove the previous sound system, installed in 2005 and install the 2021 version.

The brief was for an easy-to-use sound system, fit for the 21st Century and suitable for the traditional and evolving forms of worship, plus concerts, that were envisaged in 2016.   We now have this, but with the added bonus of ipad control during services or concerts, should we wish to use that facility.

The temporary projector and screen that we started using in January 2016 for Church Alive had proved successful for that service and there was a need to make this more permanent and easier to use.   This has now been done with a fixed projector and screen.   The screen is generally hidden and it is hoped that it will not impede the beauty of our building when not in use, but will enhance services such as Church Alive when swung out.  


Main hub sits in the vestry, and can be controlled with a remote system anywhere in church


Six shiny new speakers down the nave

The screen can be rolled away and hidden behind a pillar when not in use

Update October 2020

Great news

We have been awarded a grant of £2,700 from Allchurches Trust. More information about this Trust can be found at  They support the repair, restoration and re-ordering of churches and cathedrals of many denominations, especially where these changes support wider community use.

Before long, the results of Project Aurora will be apparent to all. A sound system fit for the 21st Century, a screen, generally hidden but wirelessly brought into view when needed complete with a fixed projector. If you haven’t already noticed the high-level lamps, they will be more obvious on the darker days that autumn brings.

Even more great news

Despite the lack of future funds, with the money already raised (for information, this can ONLY be used for Project Aurora, as this was specifically what the fundraising was for) we have been able to fulfil most of the aims of the Project

  • We have already replaced the high-level lamps.
  • We are on the verge of placing the order for the Audio-Visual System. The committee planning this has just a few final checks to make and then it will be installed when the contractors are available, hopefully within a few months.

Unfortunately, the decoration of the upper walls is outside our budget (possibly by about £10,000). This was always at the bottom of the list and was being considered while we had the access in place for the other parts of the project.

More great news

Since we started fundraising in January 2019, we have raised almost £50,000 (including the grant). Thank you everyone who has donated, helped fundraise, submitted ideas, advertised, chivvied, counted money, supported the various events etc. I shan’t name anyone in the fear of missing someone out, but you know who you are. THANKS!!

We have had a lot of fun on the way, making music, walking along the Itchen Way, being creative with the Talents challenge, gathering and selling clothes and plants, touring and dining on MV Aurora, Dancing (both Tea and Barn), the Flower festival, serving refreshments at concerts, giving and listening to talks, buying stuff online (Easyfundraising and Amazon Smile) and joining in with the 200 club.

Initially, we were quoted for far more expensive systems than we need and so our aspirations were that we would take 3 or 4 years to raise £250,000. After success in obtaining grants for the gutters, kitchen and hall, we were hopeful that a large part of this would be from grants. In reality, there are very few grants available for schemes such as this (Thank you again to Allchurches Trust!) and we didn’t actually need this much money when we looked again at how we might satisfy our needs of lighting, audio visual and decoration.

We had lots of plans to continue fundraising this year to fulfil the project. Then the Pandemic struck, events were cancelled and funding for everything stopped. Thus, future fundraising for Project Aurora has ceased, as any fundraising at St James’ for the foreseeable future will have to be directed to the General Fund.

Update December 2019

We started fundraising seriously in February and, including some very generous donations, have raised in excess of £45,000 for Project Aurora funds.   Thank you to all who have helped behind the scenes in all the events and to all of those of you who have supported the Project so far.

There will now be a short break while we celebrate Christmas, the Christmas Fayre profits will go towards the General Church funds.   We have many plans for 2020 to continue enthusiastically fundraising and hope that we shall also be in a position to spend some of it to start working towards the Practical side of the Project.   In the meantime, please continue to support the 200 club and the online options….

Plans May 2018

You may remember that, early in 2017, Noel wrote an article about this subject, outlining an exciting, but very expensive project to make our church more fit for purpose in the 21st Century, which the PCC had started..

Since then, there have been a lot of discussions, meetings and planning, but nothing conclusive to report until now. As was mentioned in my article, we engaged Chris Reading (a lighting and AV consultant) to design a lighting and audio visual system to enhance the beauty of the building and to support all the different services and activities taking place at our church. Our church architect (Louise Bainbridge) has also been an integral part of this project and will be the contract administrator. 

You will have noticed the public notices on display last month which is part of the requirement to obtain faculty permission (similar to planning permission) from the Chancellor of the Diocese. This has now been granted and so we have moved onto the next stage of inviting contractors to tender for the work.

This involves builders and decorators (while the scaffolding is in place, it is hoped to be able to paint the upper walls of the church to match the west wall that was decorated in 2015), electricians and AV specialists. By the end of April, we should be in a position to know how much of the project is viable and, more importantly, how much it will cost. The plan is to carry out the project in at least 3 phases, with the chancel being the first phase.

The timing of the work will then be down to: raising enough funds to pay for it, availability of contractors and when we can make the church available (at times, there will be so much scaffolding that there will be a lot of temporary arrangements).

Help us raise the funds

Join the 200 Club

Help raise regular funds for Project Aurora and be in with a chance to win a prize each month. Why not support our fundraising by becoming a member of the 200 Club? Monthly contributions will go toward raising funds for Project Aurora, and you will also be entered in a draw to win one of three prizes. Not less than 55% of the monthly payments will go toward Project Aurora, the rest will be paid out in prize money.

Which means:
For each £5 membership at least £2.75 will be added to the fund.
Over a year this will bring in a minimum of £33 per person.
If there are 50 member this would be £1,650 pa.
And 100 members would raise £3,300 p.a.
With full 200 members this would increase to a fantastic £6,600 p.a.

Pick up an application form today or speak to Revd Linda Galvin for more details.

Just like easyfundraising, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the net purchase price to Project Aurora every time you shop at using this link! Our webmaster finds the easiest way to remember is to put this link as the Amazon bookmark on her own web browser.  


Whenever you shop online with a participating store – from your weekly shop to your annual holiday – you could be raising funds for Project Aurora, without costing you a penny!

There are over 3,600 shops including many household names. All you have to do is click here and register. Then every time you shop online, go to and search for the website you wish to buy from, click on Shop Now and shop as normal. When you've bought your items, a donation will be made to Project Aurora at no extra cost to you. Easyfundraising has put together this video to show you how.

If you already have an existing account with the online shop, you will need to log out of their website and log back in again through the easyfundraising link.


Project Aurora

Fundraising events

Here are some events that have taken place. Thank you to everyone who have donated, helped fundraise, submitted ideas, advertised, chivvied, counted money, and supported in all other ways.

Sunday 6 October 2019: Talents Challenge results day

Amount raised: over £2,000 profit

Friday 13 September – Sunday 15 September 2019: Flower Festival
Saturday 20 July 2019: Sponsored Walk From Winchester to Mansbridge

Amount raised: In excess of £1,700 including Gift Aid

Friday 19 July 2019: the 200 Club first draw

This is ongoing! Thank you for everyone who are taking part.

Saturyda 13 July 2019: MV Aurora Prize Draw

Amount raised: £225

Saturday 13 July 2019: Nautical Extravaganza

Amount raised: £326

Friday 21 June 2019: Barn Dance

Amount raised: £44

Saturday 25 May 2019: Aurora Concert #2
Saturday 18 May 2019: Plant and Clothing Pop up Shop
Wednesday 10 April 2019: Tea Dance  

Amount raised: £280

Saturday 23 March 2019: An Evening with the Inca Civilisation 

Amount raised: £350

Saturday 9 February 2019: Afternoon Tea with Glee Club 

Amount raised: £800

Friday 25 January 2019:  Puddings & Pilgrim Footsteps 

Amount raised: £65

Saturday 12 January 2019:  Project Aurora Launch Concert  

Amount raised: £780