Normal for Norfolk star joins £150,000 bid to save church

Desmond MacCarthy, who lives at Wiveton Hall and is backing a campaign to save the village's St Mary's church.

Desmond MacCarthy, who lives at Wiveton Hall and is backing a campaign to save the village's St Mary's church. - Credit: Supplied by Wiveton Church

Ceramics designer Emma Bridgewater and 'Normal for Norfolk' television star Desmond MacCarthy have thrown their weight behind a campaign to raise £150,000 to save a village church. 

Mr MacCarthy, who lives at Wiveton Hall and rose to fame through the BBC series, and his cousin Mrs Bridgwater have called on people to "do their bit" and help the village's 15th Century St Mary's church, which was forced to close in 2019 after a roof beam fell from the ceiling during a storm

Desmond MacCarthy and Emma Bridgewater are backing the campaign to save Wiveton's St Mary's church.

Desmond MacCarthy and Emma Bridgewater are backing the campaign to save Wiveton's St Mary's church. - Credit: Supplied by Wiveton Church

Mrs Bridgewater - director of the company that bears her name - is offering a specially designed mug to anyone who donates more than £100.

She said around £90,000 had already been raised and the church was relying on a Crowdfunder campaign to make up at least £25,000 of the rest.

She said: "Each generation has got to do their bit to help keep these amazing churches. We've simply got to put it right.

Wiveton's St Mary's church had to temporarily close after a beam fell from its ceiling.

Wiveton's St Mary's church had to temporarily close after a beam fell from its ceiling. - Credit: Supplied by Wiveton Church

"This is a hub for the community and it's the spiritual heart of the community."

Mr MacCarthy added: "Norfolk is famous for its 600 medieval churches - they're such a feature of the landscape, they're beautiful and full of lovely things. 

"It's in a romantic position in that the valley was once tidal, there was even a small port and the ships and their crews were blessed before they set off on a voyage.

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"People have been gathering here for more than 700 years to worship and celebrate family events - weddings, funerals and christenings. It's a really special building.

Wiveton's church needs repairs after a beam fell from the ceiling during a storm. 

Wiveton's church needs repairs after a beam fell from the ceiling during a storm. - Credit: Supplied by Wiveton Church

"But a huge timber fell from the roof, crashing onto the altar. The timber came down in the middle of night and no vergers or vicars were crushed."

Lay minister Dr Roger Bland said a temporary fix for the ceiling damage had been put in place, allowing the church to reopen. 

He said: "But that is only safe until the end of next year and the church will close if the work isn’t done by then."

Wiveton's St Mary's church had to temporarily close after a beam fell from its ceiling.

Wiveton's St Mary's church had to temporarily close after a beam fell from its ceiling. - Credit: Supplied by Wiveton Church

Dr Bland said the Crowdfunder campaign had got off on the right foot, with more than £5,000 being donated on its first day. 

To find out more or to donate, visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/save-wiveton-church

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