A DARLINGTON business has become the first specialist restoration and maintenance company in the UK to be approved for a new website to allow churches to find accredited contractors.

“MaintenanceBooker” is a new maintenance service established by the National Churches Trust so churches and chapels can book accredited contractors for services, including gutter clearance, tree maintenance and inspecting lightning protection systems.

Stone Technical Services (STS) had to meet some strict criteria to join the new website. All contractors are selected based on their experience of working with churches and historic buildings, their qualifications and references from previous work.

MaintenanceBooker – funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and run by the National Churches Trust – is initially available across Yorkshire, but will expand across the rest of the country in the coming months.

STS has almost 20 years’ experience of working with churches and other religious and historic buildings all over the UK. As well as working on hundreds of community churches, STS counts the likes of Windsor Castle, St Paul’s Cathedral, Exeter Cathedral, Sunderland Minster and Fountain’s Abbey among its clients.

Richard Pavlou, group business development and operations manager, said: “Having been selected by the team at MaintenanceBooker as their first approved contractor, it’s refreshing to see churches taking a more preventative and planned approach to their beautiful and historic buildings.

“We have been spreading the good word for many years that small amounts of expenditure on a regular and planned basis can be far more cost effective to any organisation in comparison to the huge costs associated with a catastrophic structural repair caused by neglect.”

The historic Grade II listed St Augustine’s church in Endcliffe, Sheffield, is the first church in the UK to carry out vital maintenance work booked through the new website.

STS used extension and jacking ladders to clean the gutters and downpipes at the church, as well as carrying out a detailed report on the building’s condition at high level.

Janet Edmond, project manager of the Yorkshire Maintenance Project at the National Churches Trust, said: “After working to develop the MaintenanceBooker website and appoint highly qualified contractors to deliver maintenance services, I am now very pleased to see that many churches are registering for MaintenanceBooker and using it to arrange their gutter clearance and tree maintenance work.

“I look forward to seeing MaintenanceBooker become available in other parts of the country and offer much needed help to churches struggling with their maintenance issues.”