Arsonists torch church hall

SHAUN LOWTHORPE More than 20 community groups are counting the cost of an arson attack which destroyed a popular church hall in Norwich.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

More than 20 community groups are counting the cost of an arson attack which destroyed a popular church hall in Norwich.

Arsonists torched the hall at St Thomas Church in Earlham Road during the early hours of Saturday morning. Fire experts believe the fire was started after a break-in during and police are also investigating.

More than 20 firefighters tackled the blaze after the alarm was raised by the landlord of the neighbouring Mitre pub at around 12.30am.

The fire destroyed toys and other equipment used by 20 community groups from dance classes to luncheon clubs.

Karl Tutt, who runs the popular St Thomas toddler group, said it had lost all its equipment.

Most Read

The group, which meets on Wednesdays, is in now in need of a new home and equipment while the rebuilding work takes place.

“It's destroyed the place,” he said. “We lost everything that the toddler group owns, toys and safety equipment, coffee facilities, everything. We really need to make an appeal for a temporary home until the hall can be refurbished.”

Rev Philip Young, who only took up post on Thursday, was yesterday still assessing the damage caused by the blaze.

Church services continued as normal today and Rev Young said he had been overwhelmed by the support shown.

“People are calling it a baptism if fire, which is a fairly good description,” he said. “The community has been great. St Peters Methodist Church have said we can meet there, and the Guides have also offered us their place in Jessop Road. There is a lot of good will. People are sad rather than angry, they can't really understand why anybody should do it.”

But he said thoughts were already turning to how the hall can be rebuilt and he wanted to start an appeal for a replacement once insurers had assessed the damage.

The kitchen area and storage facilities containing toys and other equipment used by community groups had been completely destroyed

“We are determined that what's going to replace it is going to be really good for the community, may be even better,” he added. “The main hall is very badly smoke damaged, while it got hold in the single storey building at the back. The fridge, which is new, is a write off.”

t Anyone willing to help the toddler group should contact Karl Tutt on 01603 470507 or email stthomastoddlers@yahoo.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter