Champagne celebrations today marked a watershed stage in Holt Parish Church’s extension project.

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Guests joined the congregation for a topping-out ceremony to mark the completion of the zinc, curved roof of the £500,000 extension which is due to be ready in early February.

A bottle of bubbly was sprayed over the roof where rector Fr Howard Stoker was joined by churchwarden Glyn Purland, Archdeacon of Lynn, the Ven John Ashe, and Peter O’Connor, site manager for the main contractors, Fisher Bullen.

The ceremony followed speeches from Fr Stoker and John Turkentine, general manager with Fisher Bullen.

The appeal began three years ago, launched by an initial £330,000 legacy from a parishioner, and the sale of a former curate’s bungalow.

Since April a further £85,000 has been raised through further donations, fund-raising events and grants, and church chiefs are hoping to plug the remaining funding gap, of just over £50,000, by early next year.

Mr Purland said they were waiting to hear the result of four applications to grant-giving bodies.

Among fund-raisers, Fr Stoker and churchgoer and server Steve Dyer contributed more than £5,250 after taking part in a five-day sponsored walk of 90 miles from Knettishall Heath, near Thetford, to Cromer.

The extension, next to the 14th-century church, will provide a meeting room, office, sacristy - where parish records and church vestments are kept - toilet and baby-changing facilities, including a disabled toilet, a kitchen and a boiler room. The plan is for the meeting room to be used by the choir, children and church groups.

Mr Purland said those at the ceremony had been delighted with the building so far. It is expected to be in use from mid February and will be formally dedicated by the Bishop of Norwich at a ceremony on April 21.

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