Builders face race to complete roof repairs before bats return

File picture of visitors enjoying a previous snowbell walk at St Peter's Church, Spixworth. Photo by

File picture of visitors enjoying a previous snowbell walk at St Peter's Church, Spixworth. Photo by Simon Finlay - Credit: Archant Norfolk

A church faces a race against time to finish repairs to a damaged ceiling before a colony of bats return in the spring.

St Peter’s Church in Spixworth is currently closed and needs to raise in the region of £25,550 towards repairs to a damaged church ceiling.

Work started on the ceiling earlier this month but needs to be completed by April, when the colony of about 400 soprano pipistrelle bats return.

A soprano pipistrelle bat rescued and cared for by Jane Harris, consultant ecologist. Picture: Denis

A soprano pipistrelle bat rescued and cared for by Jane Harris, consultant ecologist. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2013

Builders reconstructing the new ceiling at the Grade 1 listed church, which was built in about 1160, discovered an active honey bee colony in a small area of the part of the roof.

But despite the unexpected discovery, it is hoped the works will be completed by April, when the bats return, otherwise the building would have to remain closed until September when they leave.

Picture of damage from roof in St Peter's Church, Spixworth. PIC: Supplied by Sarah Reynolds.

Damage from the roof in St Peter's Church, Spixworth. - Credit: Sarah Reynolds

Sheelah Cook, churchwarden, said: "Fortunately the bats roost in the south aisle roof in the only area not needing repair.

"We hope and pray that soon Covid restrictions will be easing and that St Peters Church Spixworth will be repaired by spring., ready to be open along with all churches for worship, private prayers, weddings, blessings, baptisms and funerals."

Mrs Cook said although the church was currently closed, there was still a active church ministry in the area, although, like for so many people, it has proved a challenging time financially with almost all the church's fundraising activities cancelled.

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She said the church had received some very generous private donations and a grant of £7000 from the Norfolk Churches Trust but did still need to raise somewhere in the region of £10,000.  

"We are approaching several charities for help but are thwarted at times because we have already started work.  

"Had we not done so we would have had to wait until the autumn because of the bats and the church would have had to stay closed until January 2022."

Anyone wishing to make a donation should contact the church treasurer Sarah Reynolds on 01603 891236  or the Rev Rosemary Maskell on 01603 898258.

The churchyard is still open and although the church cannot hold its annual snowdrop walks in February people are welcome to walk around the church outside while maintaining social distancing.

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