Major cash boost for south Norfolk church

A church community fighting to take the 'coldness out of the church' and make it the focal point of village life has received a major cash boost.

St Peter's Church on Church Road, Swainsthorpe, is the site of two major projects, the first to repair and renovate the building – which can be dated back to 900AD – and second to make it into a centre for the village.

The National Churches Trust has granted �10,000 towards repairs to the tower and roof, while community groups, the parochial church council and parish council have been fundraising to change the inside.

David Chapman, chairman of Swainsthorpe Community Charity Trust and member of the church's council, said: 'We want to take the coldness out of the church.

'That will suit those who want to worship and those who want to get involved in community activities.

'We do not have a village hall; the church is the focal point. We want to give the community better facilities.'

'All we are doing really is going back to the way local village churches used to operate, they had markets, and people would meet there. We need to put our churches to good use. We are really on the move in Swainsthorpe.'

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The two projects will cost about �120,000 in total. The pews have been removed and replaced by comfortable chairs, the building is to be extended to include rooms for meetings and activities and a kitchen is being installed.

A group of local people calling themselves the Pigs – Project Ideas Group – have been 'the driving force' behind getting community activities in the church, said Mr Chapman.

'Without their support you just cannot make these things work,' said Mr Chapman. All this does not happen unless the community gets behind it.'

It is hoped that everything from music lessons to Zumba classes will happen in the church after the work.

Rev Sally Ann Gaze, of St Peter's, currently on sabbatical, said: 'It is very exciting what they are doing there. It has been going for a couple of years and we have had grants from a number of places.'

The round tower church is a Grade II listed building and recently received a �60,000 grant from English Heritage for work to the tower.

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