Cathedral tower reaches milestone

CRAFTSMEN working on a crowning 150ft tower for Suffolk's mother church have only 30ft to go before the final stone is laid.Bosses at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds revealed they only have to raise £100,000 more to fund cloisters skirting the majestic building – an addition many feel will complete the landmark.

CRAFTSMEN working on a crowning 150ft tower for Suffolk's mother church have only 30ft to go before the final stone is laid.

Bosses at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds revealed they only have to raise £100,000 more to fund cloisters skirting the majestic building – an addition many feel will complete the landmark.

They used the presentation of thousands of pounds as an opportunity to give supporters an update on work on the 150ft Gothic tower, which is shrouded from view by a polythene curtain and 25 miles of scaffolding.

Nicolas Ridley, appeal director, said that only another £100,000 was needed to meet the £3.3 million revised fundraising target the cathedral had set itself after the cloisters project won Millennium Commission cash.


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Mr Ridley said: "We had to revise our target after the Millennium Commission awarded us a further £550,000 (for the cloisters). To ensure that funding we had to raise an additional £250,000.

"We only need a further £100,000 now and we are sure that thanks to the generous people of Suffolk and donations from trusts we will meet our targets."

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The cheques, totalling £19,000 and handed over yesterday at the top of the tower as it stands now, were raised thanks to flowers and frocks.

In August the Crowning Glory Flower Festival filled the cathedral with more than 90 stunning floral displays. The event raised £12,000 for the appeal after 7,000 people from across the region visited the festival over three days.

During the same month, Bury clothes shop Trotter and Deane, raised a further £7,000 by donating a range of clothes for the cathedral to sell.

The Dean of St Edmundsbury, the Very Rev James Atwell, was delighted with how much had been raised: "This is a glorious achievement when you think that a lot of people would be away in August. We now only have another 30 feet before the top of the tower will be finished.

"Thanks to the hard work of the people involved in the flower festival and clothes sale we are well on our schedule to finish all the work by the end of next year. For every penny raised by the appeal the same amount will be matched by the Millennium Commission."

Fifteen workmen scale the scaffolding each day to work on completing the cathedral. As well as the tower and cloisters, a painted vaulted roof at the base of the tower is also to be constructed and the money from the flower festival will go directly towards the £700,000 cost of the ceiling.

Sue Cockram, chairman of the flower festival - which took three years to organise, said; "We were overwhelmed with the number of people who turned up. Some people had to queue up for two and half hours. We never expected to raise £12,000.

"The Dean would like to have another festival in five years' time. I can't wait to see the new roof - every time I will see it will bring back fond memories of the festival."

John Deane-Bowers, of Trotter and Deane, in Abbeygate Street, said: "I would like to thank all the volunteers who worked so tirelessly in selling the clothes we donated. I hope other businesses in the town can be inspired to help the appeal meet its targets."

Work on the £10.5 million Millennium tower started in 2001 and Prince Charles its patron, laid the first stone.

The Millennium Commission handed over £5 million for the work and Stephen Dykes Bower, the architect responsible for the unfinished transformation of the historic church of St James into St Edmundsbury Cathedral, left £2.7 million in his will to complete his masterpiece.

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