Kathleen's last acts of generosity

While she lived she was never slow to spend money on a good cause, and there were few in her home town of Bungay who did not benefit from her generosity.

While she lived she was never slow to spend money on a good cause, and there were few in her home town of Bungay who did not benefit from her generosity.

And after her death Kathleen Bowerbank's wealth will continue to make a difference - with a redundant church that was dear to her heart in line for a six-figure sum.

It emerged yesterday that St Mary's Church in Bungay will get £400,000 from her will, while in recent weeks Norwich Cathedral has been celebrating reaching its £10m appeal target, thanks to another £400,000 from Miss Bowerbank's will.

The gifts are the legacy of a religious and community-minded woman, who worshipped at St Mary's with her family for much of her life, and was one of the founder members of the Friends of St Mary's. She had supported Norwich Cathedral for many years, and was one of the Friends of the Cathedral. In 1989 she gave £20,000 towards the rebuilding of the cloisters, and the money left over was spent on the peace globe inside the west door that is seen by thousands of visitors. Her latest gift will go towards a new building on the site of the original hostry as part of the same appeal that built the new refectory.

Her support for St Mary's included paying for its redecoration after it was made redundant in 1977 and for a curtain for the large west door. As with all her projects, she did not simply write a cheque, but also got involved in fundraising activities, including selling flowers to raise money for the church.

Today it is Suffolk's largest redundant church, but is most famous for having been visited by the Black Dog of Bungay in 1577. According to legend, the congregation were praying during a thunderstorm when a terrifying apparition of a black dog appeared. He raced down the aisle, leaving two people dead, and later appeared at Blythburgh church, where marks said to be the scorch marks from his claws can be seen to this day.

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Miss Bowerbank was the daughter of Hubert Bowerbank, a former director and works manager of Clay's printers. A well-travelled woman, who got a pilot's licence in her youth, she was also a keen golfer who played until she was 80. She worked for an architectural practice in Norwich for many years.

She was made a MBE in the New Year's Honours in 2005 in recognition of more than 30 years of donations to community projects, including £500,000 towards the building of Bungay Medical Centre and £150,000 towards the town library.

The Friends of St Mary's have not yet decided how to spend the money, but in the meantime it will be invested to provide income for the church.

Secretary Chris Reeve said they were delighted to secure such a substantial bequest. He said: “The amount of the bequest is expected to be in excess of £400,000. The Friends have taken professional advice and have nominated a steering committee to decide how the funds should be invested.”

Chairman Betty Warnes said: “My committee and I are delighted to receive this magnificent bequest, which will be used in Kathleen's memory. There will be a plaque placed in the church in memory of her generosity.”