Picture gallery: Volunteers wanted to help protect Hopton’s historic medieval church
08:19 05 February 2014
Archant Norfolk © 2014
Volunteers are being sought to help protect an important monument of medieval history through a new £140,000 conservation project.
Architectural experts this week began surveying St Margaret’s Church in Hopton as work begins on repairing the crumbling structure to bring it up to a safe standard.
The ancient grade II* listed church has been named on the English Heritage buildings at risk register and is surrounded by a security fence as it has been declared a dangerous structure.
But the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust and Hopton Parish Council, which owns the church, have developed the six-figure project to make it safe, and the two groups are now appealing for volunteers to help stabilise it.
They are recruiting volunteers who can get involved in hands-on conservation work and be trained in traditional buildings skills, such as stone masonry, flint knapping and wattle and daub.
As well as giving people a chance to protect history, the project also aims to equip volunteers with skills that can be used in future employment while boosting their confidence and team-working expertise.
Alongside this, volunteers will also be able to take part in an archaeological dig and village history project.
Franziska Callaghan, lead project officer, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for any adult, with any skills or prior experience, to work alongside the trust’s network of expert professionals to gain traditional buildings conservation skills, which are much lacking in the borough.
“This unique project is vital to conserve for future generations an at risk building, which is an important part of the history, heritage and culture of Hopton.
“And it offers extensive community involvement opportunities, with exciting activities such as uncovering a hidden underground vault.”
The work at Hopton comes after the trust launched its nationally-acclaimed cemeteries project in Great Yarmouth, which saw volunteers band together to clear and conserve graves.
This project also uncovered some monuments of regional and national importance, and from the group of helpers that got involved many have gone into jobs using the skills they gained.
Among them was Rachel Harrison, who volunteered for six months as a conservation trainee, and is now project co-ordinator for the Hopton scheme.
She added: “The trust’s trainees are not paid, but as my case proves, the skills they learn put them in a strong position to secure paid work in building conservation, as there is a lack of people in the borough with such knowledge and practical experience.”
A total of 65 trainees and 80 volunteers will be involved over the course of the two-year project, which started this week when a structural surveyor used a cherry-picker to assess the condition of the crumbling church.
The main structural work is planned to take place between spring 2014 and autumn 2015.
For more information about training and volunteer opportunities email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or call the preservation trust office on 01493 846195.
■ Are you working on a restoration project? Email firstname.lastname@example.org