The simplicity of the gesture belied its significance. Mark Johnson handed the Venerable Bill Stuart-White, Archdeacon of Cornwall, a pound coin in a small, see-through bag and in exchange received a key on a green, plastic key fob. It didn’t look like much, but the exchange symbolised the transfer of the St Day Old Church to the community interest company (CIC) set up to establish a future for the building that is brighter than the fortunes it has suffered for the past half-century.

As secretary of the CIC it was Mr Johnson’s job to hand over the money. But it fell to the chair of the company – and his wife – Bernadette Fallon, to tell the story of their involvement with the church.

The pair of them had first visited to the church – and climbed in through a window – in 1988, and it was then they had pledged that something had to be done. Since then they have worked tirelessly to ensure that the building has had a future in which it played a central role as a part of the village’s heritage. And many people, from all over the world, have agreed with their vision and aspirations.

Ms Fallon said the church had received visitors from all corners of the globe, not least from those countries where there are concentrations of the Cornish diaspora. They have also managed to persuade many people to pledge their ongoing, financial support, so they were able to provide a solid commitment to maintaining the building.

“This is the end of the first chapter,” Ms Fallon said. “I hope the second chapter won’t take another 30 years, because we won’t be here to see it!”

Ms Fallon thanked all those who have helped and contributed to the building over the past 30 years. And she invited all those who had come along to the handover ceremony – not least the children of the village primary school, to: “Come with us into the future, we will need your help and support.”

Local county council representative, Mark Kaczmarek, said: “There may not be a roof on this church, but if you look up you can see the heavens, and that’s what church should be about if you ask me.”

The crowd who turned out to see the historic handover on a chilly and windy April afternoon were entertained by the enthusiastic singing of the children of the primary school, the Day-Light Choir, and the folk group Hand Picked.