The King retains his Patronage of the Society in its golden jubilee year

A year of golden jubilee celebrations for the Round Tower Churches Society was crowned by a renewal of royal patronage.

His Majesty The King had agreed to retain the Patronage of the Society, it was announced at the 50th annual meeting at All Saints, Belton.

The long-serving secretary ‘Lyn Stilgoe read the official letter from Buckingham Palace. “I am pleased to confirm that His Majesty would be delighted to retain the Patronage of the Round Tower Churches Society. It is my great pleasure to share this news with you, to mark the first anniversary of Their Majesties’ Coronation,” wrote the principal private secretary.

The King, as the former Prince of Wales, first bestowed the Patronage on the Society in 2005. He has been a keen supporter of this charity, which marked its jubilee last year, and has taken much interest in its activities.

The gathering of almost 40 members and guests warmly applauded the announcement. Later, a specially decorated cake with the royal cipher, CIIIR, which had been baked by Mrs Pauline Barham, was cut by another long-standing member Mrs Jean Sheehan, of Ricklinghall Inferior, near Diss, who is pictured.

Earlier the chairman, Stuart Bowell reported on a highly successful year for the society, which had recruited 38 new members to take the total to more than 500. “Almost a year ago, members and guests enjoyed a luncheon at Gunton, the home church of the Society’s founder, followed by a reception held by the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, Lady Dannatt, at her Keswick home in May last year, culminating in a service of Festal Evensong at Norwich Cathedral in February. What a year indeed,” he added.

In the past 12 months, a total of £19,000 had been paid to round tower churches in grants for repairs and conservation projects against £36,500 the previous year. It included the largest ever grant of £7,500 to St Nicholas, South Ockendon, last October when the round tower was in peril. However, the Society has outstanding pledges of more than £54,000 to help churches, he said.

It has also been announced by the Norfolk Churches Trust that The King will retain his Patronage.

Photograph: Michael Pollitt