Community in Watton rallies to raise £37,000 for church organ renovation

Some of the congregation of Watton St Mary's Church celebrate raising £37,000 for the refurbishment

Some of the congregation of Watton St Mary's Church celebrate raising £37,000 for the refurbishment of the organ, with organist Lorraine Eldridge, centre right at the organ, and Rev Gerry Foster, front 2nd right. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

A church community will be singing the praises of their supporters after raising the £37,000 needed to refurbish their building's organ.

Organist Lorraine Eldridge, centre, and Rev Gerry Foster celebrate the community of Watton St Mary's

Organist Lorraine Eldridge, centre, and Rev Gerry Foster celebrate the community of Watton St Mary's Church celebrate raising £37,000 for the refurbishment of the organ, with Rodney Briscoe of W&A Boggis who will be carrying out the work. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

The instrument at St Mary's Church in Watton, which dates back to 1877, has been in need of restoration since 2012, but the costs involved meant the project was put on hold.

However, after a three-year campaign its fundraising team have reached their ambitious target and are hoping for the refurbishment to start in September.

A spokesperson for the St Mary's Church fundraising group said: 'When we were first faced with the challenge of raising £37,000 we knew it was a tough one to take on, but with great support from people in the church, the town, local community and from further afield, it has been made possible.

'We greatly appreciate the many who have helped us achieve this target.

'Once restored, the organ will enhance the wide range of musical life in Watton and the surrounding area. It will also provide a vital teaching resource for both young and mature music students.'

It was hoped the organ's refurbishment could be completed when the building in Church Road was re-ordered in 2012, but there were insufficient funds to complete both projects.

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In order to reach their target, the St Mary's team held fundraising events including lunchtime concerts, quiz nights and an auction of promises.

One special initiative by the fundraisers was the Let's Make History project, which saw sponsor different parts of the organ and write dedications or memories in a book to form part of the church archive.

Grants were also received from the EDP Community Chest, On Organ Fund, R C Snelling Charitable Trust and Geoffrey Watling Charity.

The work, which is being carried out by W & A Boggis of Roydon, near Diss, will begin in early September and is hoped to be completed by Christmas.

Share your memories of the organ at St Mary's Church – email bethany.whymark@archant.co.uk

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