Ringing the changes

CHIMING bells will soon return to a Suffolk church thanks to a major fundraising effort by villagers.Work is today underway to restore the bells and frame at St Mary's Church, Earl Stonham after £63,000 was raised in just 21 months.

CHIMING bells will soon return to a Suffolk church thanks to a major fundraising effort by villagers.

Work is today underway to restore the bells and frame at St Mary's Church, Earl Stonham after £63,000 was raised in just 21 months.

Brian Sayers, one of those behind the project, said: "To raise this amount of money in just 21 months is marvellous.

"We thought we might have to go on for years before getting the money but we've had terrific support from everyone.


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"It will be great when they're back in action."

The Earl Stonham Bell Restoration Group was formed in October 2001 after an inspection found they were in poor condition.

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Fundraising began in the following March to install a new metal bell frame and increase the number of bells from five to six.

The initial target was £65,000 but enough money has now been raised for the work to begin. Further events are also planned to generate the extra £2,000 needed.

The bells were removed on Tuesday but are expected to be back in place within three months.

Mr Sayers added: "There are so many churches in Suffolk that have fallen into disrepair and it would be a tragedy if that happened here.

"They've been ringing bells here since the middle ages and it's a lovely skill."

Plans are also being made to plant a time capsule in the tower to commemorate the work, which will include a copy of The Evening Star from the day.

A police choir will sing at the church from 7.30pm on January 31, while a murder mystery evening will be held at the village hall at 7.30pm on February 28, admission £10.

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