Somerleyton festive church helps Gorleston-based hospice appeal

FESTIVE cheer and community spirit has helped to bring a local quest to raise �1.5m for a new hospice at Gorleston's James Paget University Hospital a step closer.

The Palliative Care East (PCE) appeal was launched in 2006 and the latest round of local fund-raisers has brought the huge total to within �150,000 of its target.

St Mary's Church in Somerleyton has added �1,500 to the overall �1,350,000 that has been raised through its second annual Christmas tree festival.

Held over two days, the festival has seen 14 trees decorated and displayed in the 15th century church. From trees decorated by the village's pre-school and primary school pupils to a memorial tree with messages of remembrance, a variety of trees got church-goers into the Christmas spirit.

The �1,500 raised by the festival included �318 raised by customers and staff of Waveney Glass Company – allowing people to sponsor baubles on their tree – as well as donations in memory of Dorothy Gibbons, who died earlier this year and whose family appreciated the good care she received at the James Paget Hospital.

Co-ordinator for the PCE campaign, Jenny Watson, collected a cheque at the church on Monday and said: 'Hopefully next year we will reach the target as the work starts in February 2012 and is looking to be finished in December so hopefully it will all come together.

'This festival has been amazing, the great thing about it is that this church is sticking with us and supporting us by raising funds for us again this year. It's people like this that gets us to our target.

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'The community spirit that has been shown is great. You come out to a little place like this in the middle of the countryside and all the local businesses and schools have been working together.'

Other trees included a penguin-themed tree by Julia Knights, two more traditional trees by Andrea Ashbury and an unusual tree made from winter plants by Margaret Cole and Sandra Rees.

The festival concluded with a Christingle and carol service where 140 people gathered and, together with carol singing around the village and a donation from Womens' Link, a cheque for �383 was sent to the Childrens' Society.

Combined with the �600 raised at St Mary's through last year's festival, the church has now raised over �2,000 for the PCE appeal and will have its own small butterfly in a large butterfly mosaic at the hospice.

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