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Saved bells ring in celebration

PUBLISHED: 00:42 03 April 2004 | UPDATED: 04:44 02 March 2010

CELEBRATIONS are ringing out at a Suffolk Church today after thousands of pounds were raised to restore its bells.

The bells at St Mary the Virgin Church in Earl Stonham were in danger of falling silent after hundreds of years of calling in the congregation.

CELEBRATIONS are ringing out at a Suffolk Church today after thousands of pounds were raised to restore its bells.

The bells at St Mary the Virgin Church in Earl Stonham were in danger of falling silent after hundreds of years of calling in the congregation.

But now, after nearly two years of fundraising, they have been saved.

A grade one listed building, St Mary the Virgin was built in the 15th century.

It is famed across Europe for its single hammer beam roof but beneath the visible splendour its five bells were beginning to show signs of age.

Two years ago the bells were beginning to crack and their frames had begun to rot but today they are singing once more thanks to the hard work of the local community and the fundraising committee.

Bell ringer and committee member, Brian Sayers said: "It feels absolutely marvellous. It's us that has raised that money, not a large number of people but we have had a lot of help locally."

A new steel bell frame has now been installed with the old one kept for historical purposes. Two of the bells have been recast and an additional bell has been provided there is also a new bell chamber.

Mr Sayers added: "People have donated bells, the Fowler family and the Budworth family both gave us bells.

"We have kept three from the original five, have recast two and have an additional one.

"It sounds a lot better because two of the old ones were cracked."

Funding from the project came from several organisations including the Historic Churches Trust, the Suffolk Guild of Bell Ringers and Care of Churches.

Additional funds were raised through quiz evenings, auctions and sponsored events and included the wider community.

Mr Sayers added: "The committee would like to thank all of those who have donated time and equipment to the project."

This included Chris Nunn, Brian Whiting and Terry Cox who provided voluntary labour to the project.

N Are you trying to raise funds for a major project? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk


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