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Mosque helps Christian neighbours fundraise to save 150-year-old village church

Sabah Ahmedi, who is one of Britain’s youngest Imams, with Charlotte Mathias, treasurer at All Saints Church in Tilford (MKA-UK/PA)
Sabah Ahmedi, who is one of Britain’s youngest Imams, with Charlotte Mathias, treasurer at All Saints Church in Tilford (MKA-UK/PA)

A Mosque in Surrey is aiming to raise thousands of pounds and “put smiles on faces” by fundraising to help save a 150-year-old village church facing closure.

All Saints Church in Tilford was deemed unsafe when parts of its ceiling fell down in October 2021, and church-goers now need to raise £110,000 for its restoration.

All Saints Church in Tilford
All Saints Church in Tilford was deemed unsafe when parts of its ceiling fell down in October 2021 (MKA-UK/PA)

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA), representing the Mubarak Mosque, has organised a charity race on Sunday to help the church reach its target.

The interfaith event will see church congregants, local schoolchildren and villagers, and hundreds of young Muslims and Imams take part in a 5k or 10k run – with all the proceeds going towards saving the church.

Sabah Ahmedi, 28, who is one of Britain’s youngest Imams, said projects like this can “help build bridges” between different faith groups.

He told the PA news agency: “It’s a fundamental obligation on all Muslims to help their neighbours, regardless of their background.

“So I am only fulfilling my duty by working with our friends and neighbours from the church.

“It’s my firm belief that initiatives like this help to build bridges and put smiles on faces, especially in the challenging circumstances.”

The All Saints church, consecrated in 1867, is a Grade II-listed building which means all the work being carried out on it has to be completed by a heritage expert able to work with traditional lime plaster.

To date, the church has raised over £70,000 and restoration work is nearing completion but it is hoped that Sunday’s event will help reach the final fundraising target.

Church treasurer Charlotte Mathias said funding the restoration has been a “daunting task” but added it has brought people in their village together in “religious harmony”.

“The church sits at the heart of our village and is not only an important place of worship but a local heritage asset,” Ms Mathias said.

“The burden of finding the money to carry out the extensive work on the church ceiling falls entirely on the parish and is quite a daunting task.

“We are delighted to be hosting this event with our friends and neighbours from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

“I hope this occasion will give us the opportunity to shine a light on how religious harmony can bring people together.”

All Saints Church in Tilford
The All Saints church (MKA-UK/PA)

The AMYA is helping to organise the event to raise money for the church as part of their Mercy 4 Mankind initiative, which celebrates the life of the Prophet Mohammed.

Luqman Bajwa, lead organiser of Mercy 4 Mankind charity events, said: “Our flagship event has been going on for years and we have raised millions of pounds for British charities.

“However, this is something unique and special.

“Helping to rebuild a church for us as Muslims is something that is motivated by the life of the Prophet Muhammad who instructed Muslims to protect all places of worship.

“To see the local church back to its full glory will be very rewarding for all of us.”