"Thanks to Mimi, children sing every month"

St Leonard's church, in Streatham, SW London, felt that music could be an important part of its ministry and mission. It was the legacy of a faithful lay minister that enabled them to test the idea and see amazing fruit that followed.
A diverse group of children and young people gathered for a photo in a church, all smiling and using thumbs up hand gestures

For much of her life Mimi was a vital part of St Leonard’s in Streatham, SW London. She was a Licensed Lay Minister, typed the notice sheets, volunteered at events and was a friend to many. 

When she died, the church was surprised and delighted to learn that she’d bequeathed a generous unrestricted gift of £20,000. 

Rector, the Rev’d Canon Anna Norman-Walker said: “Compared to some, we’re not a poor church, but there are always bills to be paid – we’ve been updating the church building for years and the funds needed for that can seem endless at times.  But the PCC agreed that it was important to use Mimi’s legacy in the most missional way possible - to use it as a seed for something vitally important to our church. 

“Music had been on the PCC agenda for some time, and Mimi’s generosity enabled us to take something of a risk in this area – appointing a Director of Music.  In the time Calum our Director of Music has been with us, the adult choir has grown and diversified, and we’ve also started a children’s choir. 

“Before we had the legacy, a children’s choir had often been mooted but there was no evidence it would take off.  It seems that, as with so many things, you have to start something before you know – we now have 20+ children in the choir and they rehearse every week and sing every month.”

Using the legacy to build a legacy

“We originally agreed to appoint someone on a fixed term contract for two years – which cost exactly the amount Mimi left us.  Those two years were up this summer, and we’ve decided to make the Director of Music post permanent, something the church congregation has celebrated. 

“We lost another parishioner, Charles last year and he too remembered our church in his will. His generous gift will be used to replace the main Church door – something he as Church Warden walked through and complained about many times.”

Anna thinks it’s important that people in the congregation see their gifts being used in fitting ways. “There can be a fear that legacies to churches in particular will be used to pay the gas bill.  I believe it’s important to build a legacy with the legacy – something that will endure for future generations.”

A line of choristers in robes singing from sheet music