Swansea City Mission and Educational Trust launches exciting fundraising project to aid Nicholaston House re-development
Swansea City Mission and Educational Trust Launches Exciting Fundraising Project to Aid Nicholaston House Re-Development
An exciting opportunity for members of the public to become part of a major £2 million re-development of Nicholaston House is being launched this week.
The ‘Nicholaston 5000’ initiative will seek to draw five thousand people to help to fund refurbishment work at Nicholaston House, a Christian retreat and conference centre in Penmaen, Gower.
The centre is a unique environment for people to find healing and restoration. People suffering from eating disorders can also check in to Nicholaston for specialist help.
Swansea City Council awarded the plans, which include self-contained eco-pods in the gardens, full planning permission. Trustees are aiming to start the development work, which is likely to take around six months to complete, in August 2019, with a view to re-opening in the springtime of 2020.
Geoff Thomas, chairman of Swansea City Mission and Educational Trust (SCM&ET), explained that funding will come from a number of different funding streams. The SCM&ET is seeking to raise at least 25% of the £2 million and this is where the Nicholaston 5000 project was born.
Taking inspiration from the story in the New Testament where Jesus fed 5000 people with five loaves and two fish, the aim is to persuade five thousand people to donate at least £100 towards the development.
He said: “Following the almost unprecedented step of gaining full planning consent for a development of this scale and scope in a designated area of ‘outstanding natural beauty’, we are now on the threshold of making this happen.
“We want to preserve and enhance this environment by making the most of its location and opening up the house to its greatest natural asset: its elevated position and panoramic views.
“Join with us to help bring this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fruition. If we can expand this beautiful building, we can help more people to find healing and solace on Gower. Will you be one of the Nicholaston 5000?”
The aim of the development is to be able to accommodate more people, yet have more private ‘breakout’ spaces, as well as bedrooms with balconies and self-contained eco-pods in the garden.
Nicholaston House, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, overlooks Oxwich Bay and the moorland of Cefn Bryn behind. It hosts many faith-building courses which vary in nature. There are ‘time-out’ courses and arts and crafts courses, along with others which are designed to look at relationship issues, including marriage preparation and enhancement.
There are also courses to help people suffering from eating disorders, led by internationally-renowned speaker, author and counsellor Helena Wilkinson.
Nicholaston House was birthed in a dream/vision in the mid 1980s. Derrick and Sue Hancock had been working for a long time with a person who had suffered severe abuse. It became apparent to them, and the psychiatrist now working with them, that any healing that was going to take place could be significantly hurried up if the therapy could be more than simply sessional. Established centres were approached, but, (a) there was always a lengthy waiting time, and (b) the centre wanted to use their own staff, thus going over much of what had already been covered. The vision of a safe house was thus born.
The problem with visions is that they seldom happen overnight; that is why many God-given visions don’t materialise - people give up too soon. The vision was carried to Swansea in a quite remarkable way. A fleece was put out on a train going into Waterloo Station on a cold Monday morning in January 1990. After many months of searching as to where this vision could be realised, Swansea appeared on the screen quite out of the blue. Derrick and Sue had been in Swansea on the Sunday visiting their daughter and God spoke to them at an evening church service. The Monday morning fleece prayer was a result, and it was simply ‘if you want them to move to Swansea, they will go, but you will need to find a buyer for their house without their putting it on the market’. That was 7.50 in the morning. At 7.30 in the evening, someone called to ask if they were selling their house. The caller’s wife had that day discovered she was pregnant and they now needed a 4-bedroomed house – so they bought it.
Derrick and Sue became linked up with a charity in the city – Swansea City Mission – and soon became involved in running a residential unit for homeless men. Then three years later they were instrumental in commencing a counselling service. Many years on, this service is still operating. Well over 1,000 people have used the service, which remains donation-based. The vision, however, was for a residential place of safety and much prayer was made over many years. £75,000 had become available, and though helpful, this was by no means enough. Prayer continued and every session commenced with the reading of Habakkuk Ch. 2 v.2&3, part of which reads, ‘though the vision tarry, it will not be overdue a single day’.
In June 1998, a private hotel on the Gower peninsula came up for auction. It was withdrawn at the last minute and sealed bids were invited. The trustees decided to bid £295,000. Only one other bidder was present - the survey on the property had put many people off. The bid was opened and then the other, which was for £291,500. After the bidders had left, the estate agent said, ‘I can’t understand this – those people have an awful lot of money and really wanted it’. There was just 12 weeks between the bid and the purchase to raise £250,000. The trustees had decided in faith to purchase the property. £320,000 came in.
Three years after Nicholaston House was purchased, a lady made it known that she and her family camped at a nearby farm for a number of years in the late 1980s. They used to go to Nicholaston, which was then a hotel, for an evening drink. She said one day after her husband and children had returned to the campsite, as she sat looking out to sea, she heard God say, ‘this is My house’. Some eight years later, it was.
Staying at Nicholaston House was a really special time and I benefited greatly from the prayer ministry. I enjoyed and appreciated the comfort of my room with its lovely view and the warm hospitality generally.