Joy as restoration work starts at Swaffham church

Restoration work at Swaffham parish church will begin this year after a �250,000 fund-raising drive got off to a flying start.

The two-year appeal was launched at St Peter and St Paul Church in November last year, with celebrities, dignitaries and politicians rallying to get it off the ground.

Stephen Fry, MP Elizabeth Truss, the Rt Rev Graham James, Bishop of Norwich and Norfolk funnyman Keith Skipper all signed up as patrons of the appeal, which has Baroness Shephard of Northwold as its president.

It is hoped Window Restoration and Development Appeal will raise enough money to complete a number of projects at the medieval building, not least repairing and re-glazing seven of its ageing windows.

And with �24,500 already in the kitty, the committee is keen to get started.

'It feels good to start spending,' said member Mel Gay. 'I feel the church is alive and there's a good spirit - things are happening now.

'We are going to replace two windows on the south side first and we hope to get it finished by the end of the year. The windows rattle and some have holes in. In a strong gale there's a risk one or two could blow in.'

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A number of fund-raising events have been held in the last year, including talks and a Burns Night supper.

The most successful fund-raiser to date has been a nude calendar featuring staff at Swaffham businesses, which has raised more than �5,000 so far.

'People need to see we are using the money to keep their enthusiasm up,' added chairman and town mayor Sheila Matthews.

'We have a variety of things planned and we have got to now start applying for grants.'

The church costs �1,500 a week to run and money raised at its annual gift day on Saturday will go towards its general upkeep as well as a replacement heating system.

A Christmas tree festival, with 20 trees sponsored by local firms, will be held at the church from November 29 to December 8.

It will be open from 10am to 4pm and entry is free.

Vintage footage of Swaffham from the East Anglia Film Archive will be shown at the EcoTech Centre from 2.30pm on November 20.

Tickets for the film night, costing �5, include light refreshments and are available from the Saturday coffee morning at the church or Ceres bookshop in London Street.

Call 01760 723205 to book.

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