Sponsor a slate and help Shipdham church to raise the roof

They're getting ready to raise the roof in a mid-Norfolk village – and the cost of every single slate will count.

Roofing at All Saints' Church at Shipdham is in poor condition. There have been leaks in various parts of the building, which has been used by the local community for more than seven centuries.

The slates were last replaced in about the 1850s, but the church team says materials imported from southern Europe were used that did not have as good a lifespan as Westmorland or Welsh slate.

Such is the extent of their decay now that an appeal to install a new roof is under way. Repairs are also planned to leadwork sections. The expected �220,000 cost of the work will be supported by major grant aid. But villagers are being asked to do their bit to bring in the remaining �25,000 or so that has to be raised locally by supporting a Sponsor a Slate scheme.

All Saints' fabric officer David Cutting said this week that each slate could be sponsored for �10. He said so far about 30 such pledges had been made.

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'What we are finding is that some people are doing it for children, which is a nice idea,' Mr Cutting added.

Among other fundraisers, a Guess the Number of Slates competition has been devised, with a �100 prize: the actual number isn't yet known, and in due course one of his tasks will be to count them.

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Mr Cutting said the number needed on the new roof would become clear once the choice of materials had been made. He said Welsh or Westmorland slates would be used this time because they were denser, less brittle and less porous than the existing ones. He added: 'Good slates should last anything between 300 and 500 years.'

Also, a 200 Club is being launched.

Mr Cutting said he was encouraged by people's response so far to the appeal and added: 'I have every faith in the village that they will support us.'

Preliminary work to assess the full work needed has been done, and �158,000 has been secured through the Heritage Lottery Fund. To top up the coffers, the appeal organisers are applying for help from other sources, too. Among these is Breckland Council, and as part of this application a questionnaire has been circulated asking Shipdham people for their views on the present community facilities provided at All Saints' and its St Thomas's Chapel. Deadline to return survey forms is Monday, July 9: they can be popped in boxes in the church, at the post office, surgery, Shipdham Stores, King's Caf� and the Golden Dog.

The hope is that the roof work will be done next year.

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