Opening the Tree House in White Waltham


White Waltham Church celebrated the opening of its new building, The Tree House, on Sunday 29 November.  The building was opened in the presence of three of the Patrons of Project Rainbow, the project through which the funds were raised:  Air Marshal Sir Ian Macfadyen KCVO, CB, OBE, Rt Hon Theresa May MP and the Rt Revd Lee Rayfield, the Bishop of Swindon (formerly Area Dean of Maidenhead when he was Vicar of St Peter’s Furze Platt).

Revd David Andrew, Vicar of White Waltham Church explained, “When I came to the church nearly 18 years ago planning for this building had already started.  It has been part of White Waltham church’s vision for over 20 years.  The church’s most pressing need at that time was for a base for its work with children and young families – and that need has not diminished over the intervening years.  We also hope to use the building for a variety of church related activities, so that with The Tree House we will serve our local community better than we have been able to.  Although, with the opening of the building, we have reached the end of Project Rainbow, in another sense we are really only at the beginning– we need to go on and make the very best possible use of this wonderful new facility.”

Asked about the name of the building, David said, “Finding a name for the building was not easy – we considered a wide range of options.  We eventually sought inspiration from some passages in the Bible where we found some themes of growth, providing shelter, bearing fruit, and so on.  Our new building is in amongst the trees in the churchyard, and it is somewhere that our children will come to have fun, so the name seemed appropriate on a number of different levels.”

The Tree House is constructed of the highest quality building materials:  handmade bricks, flint and handmade roof tiles.  This is due both to its sensitive position in a conservation area and the church’s desire to have a building that fitted well into the context of the church, the churchyard, and the surrounding houses and barns.  It was designed by Neil Barr of DLK Architects, and was built by Maidenhead builders Adams and Wade, whose Managing Director is Mark Langley.

The whole project will have cost well over £550,000  (the final sum is not yet in).  Bob Crittenden, Chairman of Project Rainbow, the main fundraising part of the project, explained, “Project Rainbow was launched in May 2010.  Since then we have received over £500,000 towards the building and equipment costs of the project.  We are enormously grateful to the hundreds of people who have supported this project, whether through sponsorship of the 1,000+ mile bike ride or the Thames Towpath 100 mile run; by making jam, bunting, or washing cars; by coming to concerts in church or through giving their hard-earned money to the project out of a conviction that this was the right thing to do.  We are also very grateful to those Charitable Trusts who shared our Vision and together gave £86,000 to the project.”

The opening on Sunday 29 November was followed by a Songs of Praise service in the church that evening, attended by Rt Revd Andrew Proud, Bishop of Reading.

Photos by Chris Knight.