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Peal of bells to launch campaign

PUBLISHED: 15:12 17 August 2001 | UPDATED: 10:26 03 March 2010

A PEAL of bells will signal the launch of a massive fundraising push to raise £70,000 to save a historic church in Bramford.

An invited congregation, choir and bell ringers from London will join parishioners at the Suffolk village to celebrate the existence of St Mary's church for more than 700 years - and launch an appeal to save the fabric of the building before it is too late.

A PEAL of bells will signal the launch of a massive fundraising push to raise £70,000 to save a historic church in Bramford.

An invited congregation, choir and bell ringers from London will join parishioners at the Suffolk village to celebrate the existence of St Mary's church for more than 700 years - and launch an appeal to save the fabric of the building before it is too late.

The event on September 8 also coincides with the annual cycle ride for the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust and fundraisers have decided to put the two together.

The annual bike ride sees people across the county sponsored to cycle to as many churches as they can manage.

Walking to churches, especially in Ipswich, is also allowed. Half the sponsorship money goes to the church of the rider's choice and the rest goes to the trust – which it is hoped will provide grant aid for a phase of the work at St Mary's.

By calling supporters to join in the fun at the bike ride before inviting them to attend anniversary celebrations at St Mary's organisers are hoping the first day of fundraising will be one to be remembered.

Members of St Botolph's church, Aldgate, London, which has links with St Mary's, will ring the church bells in the afternoon before joining worshippers for a choral evensong at 6pm.

Church warden Colin Elsdon said that he believed volunteers had a tough job ahead of them to raise the necessary funds.

Nearly 50 years ago the north west buttress of the church dramatically collapsed and church goers have been watching in horror as cracks in the south west buttress began to appear and slowly open up.

"The church tower has been under investigation for about fives and the cracks are being monitored," said Mr Elsdon.

"I think it will be a struggle for the village to raise that amount of money and raising money is getting more and more difficult these days."

Repairing the buttress will cost £10,000, the spire £30,000, parapet lead guttering £4,500, scaffolding hire £7,500 and replacing the weather vein £1,200. Combined with the cost of architect's fees and VAT fundraisers believe the total cost of renovating the church will reach £70,000.

An application has been made to English Heritage and a response is expected at the end of the year but it is expected to cover only a fraction of the overall cost.

N For sponsorship forms for the cycle ride call Janet Jackman on 01473 744655.

N Why not make a donation at the special service on September 8? If you are a taxpayer for ever £1 gifted the chancellor will add 28p. Suitable envelopes, including space to add your name and address so fundraisers can claim the gift aid from the Inland Revenue, can be found at the back of the church.

WEBLINK

www.english-heritage.org.uk

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