‘Delighted’ members of St Margaret’s Church in Ipswich pass first funding hurdle

John Girt, Captain of the Bells at St Margarets Church which has managed to get through the first ro

John Girt, Captain of the Bells at St Margarets Church which has managed to get through the first round heritage Lottery Fund grant approval to restore its bells.

A centuries-old church in Ipswich is celebrating taking the first steps on the road to restoring and re-hanging its bells.

St Margaret’s Church in Sloane Street has recently been told its stage one bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has been successful.

That means those spearheading the project can start preparing the crucial stage two bid for next year – and have been given £10,300 to help do it.

The bells were last re-hung more than 100 years ago but this time will be set up at a lower height.

This means the ringers will be visible from within the church, not something possible previously, and visitors will also be able to see the bells themselves thanks to new video screens.

The project team at St Margaret’s hopes this will encourage more young people to take an interest in bell ringing.

Another part of the project is to allow people to discover and learn about the heritage of the 700-year-old church.

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John Grierson is heading up the project at the church and said everyone involved was “absolutely delighted” to hear of the success.

“It was almost a surprise in one way because it is pretty difficult, though it is a fantastic project,” he said. “It’s something like only one in three get through the first stage.

“The fact we have the stage one is a huge boost to us pressing on with it.

“What it means is our view of what we wanted to do is being backed by the HLF.”

The final application must be in by June 2017, but is likely to be submitted by the middle of next year.

Robyn Llewellyn, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said: “Suffolk’s places of worship have many fascinating stories to tell and are so often a the heart of our communities.

“St Margaret’s Church is an excellent example of how HLF can help conserve a much loved building so it can become more widely used by the whole community and be properly cared for into the future.”

A first-round pass from the HLF means it has endorsed the outline proposals for a project and earmarked funding for it.

For the second stage the applicant then has to prepare more detailed proposals for submission and demonstrate how things have progressed with the project in order to receive the full amount of funding.