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Sudbury: Lunchtime concerts help to keep popular church in the spotlight

14:34 08 May 2014

Heather Clayton outside St Peter

Heather Clayton outside St Peter's Church, Sudbury. Heather is promoting a special day for buskers.

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An initiative to draw more visitors into an historic church building which was described by TV presenter Fiona Bruce as a “relic of the past” is being hailed as a resounding success.

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St Peter’s Church in Sudbury hit the national headlines after Ms Bruce made the negative comments in her online column, Fiona Bruce’s Britain, following a visit to the town.

Although the church was closed for public worship in 1971, it is booked up for events ranging from farmers’ markets to concerts a full two years in advance, and is one of the most used redundant churches in Britain.

The Friends of St Peter’s volunteer group is now on a mission to attract even more people to the town centre building, which is now owned by the Churches Conservation Trust. They recently decided to stage a free lunchtime concert.

Friends volunteer Heather Clayton said: “The idea was that we would put on some free musical entertainment in the church and people could just wander in during their lunch break, put their feet up and listen while they are eating their sandwiches. We also serve tea and coffee so the sessions provide a lovely way to enjoy a relaxing break in a beautiful environment.”

The idea was so successful, the Friends now plan to make the concerts a regular fixture. Ms Clayton continued: “We had a good crowd in for the initial concert and the idea seems to have really taken off. None of the artists get paid because any donations go towards keeping the church maintained. But it’s mostly about inviting people in to enjoy the space and maybe encourage them to think about using St Peter’s for other events.”

On May 13, the lunchtime concert will feature folk songs from the 60s and 70s performed by Pauline O’Brien and Mike Thomas, while on May 20, the church will play host to The Bel Canto Buskers, performing songs from the shows in 1920s and 30s style. June 3 will see a Celtic harp recital by Anne Chorley.

Anyone who would like to volunteer their time to perform can email heatherclayton@gmail.com or call 01787 881314.

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