Week of stars for four Waveney churches

CELIA WIGG Stars of stage and television are teaming up for a week of music and laughter at a Four Churches Festival in the Waveney Valley, running from May 22 to 27.


Stars of stage and television are teaming up for a week of music and laughter at a Four Churches Festival in the Waveney Valley.

The festival, from May 22-27, is the result of a meeting between rock musician Rick Wakeman and local vicar the Rev Trevor Riess, who became neighbours when they moved in on the same day.

Both were keen to see the churches in his benefice - Scole, Thorpe Abbots, Billingford and Brockdish - used more creatively to help raise funds towards their upkeep.

A committee was formed to organise the festival and Swallows Hotels, which owns Scole Inn and the Cornwallis at nearby Brome, agreed to provide sponsorship.

Mr Wakeman, the keyboard player in the rock group Yes, who now appears on TV series Grumpy Old Men, will be appearing.

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Other celebrities include renowned tenor Ramon Remedios, actor Ian Lavender, singer-songwriter Paul Field, and comedians Syd Little, Jimmy Cricket and Don Maclean.

Ralph Barnett, the Diocese of Norwich's Open Churches Project officer, said: “Churches make fantastic venues for music and arts events and the Four Churches Festival is a great example of how these fabulous buildings can be used creatively for the benefit of both the local and wider community.

“By coming along to one of the events, people will not only enjoy a great evening's entertainment, they will also be helping to conserve and manage some of Norfolk's oldest and most beautiful buildings.”

The programme is: Monday May 22, Brockdish church, 7.30pm (Rick Wakeman/Ramon Remedios); Tuesday May 23, Thorpe Abbots All Saints', 7.30pm (Paul Field); Wednesday May 24, Scole church, 7.30pm (Don Maclean); Thursday May 25, Billingford St Leonard's, 7.30pm (Jimmy Cricket and local choirs); Friday May 26, Scole church, 7.30pm (Syd Little/Chris Gidney of Christians Entertainment); Saturday May 27, Brockdish church, 6pm (The New Gospels with Rick Wakeman, Ramon Remedios and Ian Lavender).

The 8.15pm performance of The New Gospels on May 27 is already sold out.

Ticket range from £5 to £15 and can be bought from Scole post office stores on 01379 668875, or by visiting www.norfolkopen churches.com

An after-events party will be held each evening, and tickets for those cost £3.

All proceeds are for the churches in the Scole benefice.

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