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Parish ‘devastated’ after fallen tree destroys church wall

PUBLISHED: 10:44 11 February 2020 | UPDATED: 10:58 11 February 2020

Abi Chamberlain's daughter, Rosie, takes a photo of the fallen tree which destroyed the wall and gates at St Mary's Church in Tittleshall. Picture: Abi Chamberlain

Abi Chamberlain's daughter, Rosie, takes a photo of the fallen tree which destroyed the wall and gates at St Mary's Church in Tittleshall. Picture: Abi Chamberlain

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A fallen tree has destroyed church gates installed in memory of a woman who lost her battle with breast cancer.

A fallen tree destroyed the wall and gates at St Mary's Church in Tittleshall. Picture: Mary OsborneA fallen tree destroyed the wall and gates at St Mary's Church in Tittleshall. Picture: Mary Osborne

Amid ferocious wind and lashing rain on Sunday, February 9, a huge tree fell onto the road at Church Lane in Tittleshall at around 4.30pm.

Such was its size the tree brought down an overhead power line, leaving around 400 properties in the Tittleshall area without electricity for around 24 hours.

A fallen tree destroyed the wall and gates at St Mary's Church in Tittleshall. Picture: Mary OsborneA fallen tree destroyed the wall and gates at St Mary's Church in Tittleshall. Picture: Mary Osborne

But the more upsetting consequence was its impact on the churchyard of St Mary's Church, as the tree crashed through the perimeter wall, gates and hand-carved noticeboard.

Both the new wall and church gates were installed just a few months ago in memory of a woman from the village who cared deeply for the church.

"It's absolutely devastating because thousands of pounds was raised to have the wall repaired," said the Rev Canon Heather Butcher. "The work was only completed in autumn of last year, so we're very shocked.

"It has gone on some of the graves, but actually it was fortunate that it fell almost directly on the church path.

"The irony is that we took down two big trees in the churchyard to stop this from happening."

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The campaign to replace the church wall and gates began several years ago when Sally Grove, daughter of much-loved local farmer, John Garner, died following a battle with breast cancer.

Her mother, Sarah Garner, died in the same year having served as churchwarden for many years.

Mrs Grove's death led to the formation of a fundraising campaign for the Sally Grove Memorial Gates and, in the ensuing years, thousands was raised via various sponsors.

Prior to his death in 2019, Mr Garner made it his last wish that proceeds from his funeral went to the memorial fund.

The gates were installed a matter of weeks later, but now lie in ruins following Storm Ciara.

"This tree has completely flattened everything," added Mary Osborne, church secretary. "There is nothing left that we can salvage.

"It is so upsetting because the last thing I said to John was that we'd get those gates up.

"We have insurance but now we're desperate for money because we'll have to pay the excess and fund a new noticeboard."

To make a donation to St Mary's, call Mary Osborne on 01328 700248.

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