Trust goes from strength to strength members told at 43rd annual meeting

A 10% membership increase has enabled the Norfolk Churches Trust to help safeguard places of worship across the county.

A total of more than £182,000 has been pledged to 48 churches for repairs and restoration work, said the Trust’s chairman Peter Sheppard.

As the trust holds one of its biggest events, the annual Bike Ride today (Saturday, September 14), he said that almost “every penny of fund-raising goes directly to making grants to Norfolk churches.”

He told about 50 members, including the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, Lady Dannatt, at the 43rd annual meeting at St Andrew’s Church, Saxthorpe, that it was a great pleasure to head a charity, which has enough assets to pay its modest administration costs.

The trust has also increased membership by 146 last year to almost 1,500. This had generated more than £89,000 last year as the heritage charity’s total income rose to £581,907. This had included a welcome grant of almost £200,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which had enabled major repairs to the church and tower at Snetterton to be completed.

Since 1976 when the trust was founded, some £6.4m million had been awarded to churches of all denominations in Norfolk and the diocese of Norwich. The Norfolk Bike Ride had raised a total of £2.8m for the county’s churches, he added.

The treasurer, David Missen, said that the trust’s income was marginally higher than the previous year, when a number of legacies had boosted funds. This had also made it possible for the trust to help the roof alarm scheme in 2018 with a £50,000 grant.

Major grants to churches included £15,000 to St Mary, Tuddenham, to safeguard the tower; £10,000 for roof repairs to St Michael, Sutton and also to Pulham St Mary for roof repairs.

Grants of £7,000 were made to – St Mary Surlingham (tower repairs); All Saints, Scottow (window repairs); St Mary, Newton by Castle Acre and All Saints, Old Buckenham for thatching.

Awards of £5,000 were made to St Peter, Carleton; All Saints, Wreningham; St Mary, North Elmham; St Margaret, Sea Palling; St Michael, Bunwell and St Giles, Bradfield.

After the meeting, Dr Clare Haynes, spoke about the UEA’s project, Heriligion, which investigates the impact of heritage on religious sites. She said that the decision to create the country’s first museum of ecclesiastical history at St Peter Hungate, Norwich, in 1933, had been controversial at the time but had ensured that an important medieval church had been preserved and not been demolished as originally proposed.

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