Support group goes from strength to strength

A newly-formed support group for a south Norfolk church has gone from strength to strength.

It has also managed to raise more than £5,000 for St Peter’s Church, Forncett, near Long Stratton.

Since the Friends of St Peter’s Church was launched last October, it now has a membership of more than 80, said churchwarden Gillian Barnes.

A series of Sunday lunches through the winter, usually limited to about 40 people at the village hall, has been a spectacular success, she added.

Since taking over as churchwarden about 18 months ago, her first priority has obviously been the church. Thanks to a £1,000 donation by the Norfolk Churches Trust at its October meeting, urgent repairs were carried out to the roof and rainwater goods before Christmas. “We were able to replace lost slates and recaulk gutters to ensure that water could drain away,” she said.

Membership of the Friends is open to all in the village. A series of fund-raisers are planned for the spring and summer including an “open garden” events on Sunday, June 13. Details will be available on the Forncett’s website when finalised along with a concert in July.

While major repairs to the tower were carried out about a dozen years ago and it remains in good order, the church’s architect Ruth Blackman has highlighted concerns caused by rising damp.

In the north aisle of St Peter’s, a most unusual alabaster tomb dedicated to Robert and Ann Drake, dating from 1485, is also in need of conservation.

However, a long-term programme to conserve the church is another priority as a small team are preparing a major bid for funding.