Church bell appeal gets £25k boost

A CHURCH bell appeal has received a £25,000 boost as the result of the generosity of a Suffolk baroness.

David Green

A CHURCH bell appeal has received a £25,000 boost as the result of the generosity of a Suffolk baroness.

Baroness Alison Fowke - formerly of Weston Hall, near Beccles, and now a resident at a Suffolk nursing home - has given the money to the parochial church council at Dennington, near Framlingham.

It represents one third of the total being targeted to replace the bearings and carry out further work on the peal of six church bells, which were last re-hung in 1915.

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An initial £10,000 donation was made by Baroness Fowke in June 2004 to provide “seed money” for the restoration project.

Through her good friend, June de Whalley, who lives in Dennington and is a member of the church council, the baroness followed the progress of the project with great interest and decided to donate a further £15,000. She presented the cheque yesterday .

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Baroness Fowke has lived in Suffolk all her life and has always taken a great interest in history and ancient buildings.

Her £25,000 donation has taken the bell fund to £64,000, other donations including £6,000 from the Suffolk Guild of Ringers and £4,000 from the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust.

Villagers are still £11,000 short of their target but further grant applications are now being sent out and there is enough confidence that the total will be reached that the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London has already been invited to give a date for start of work.

Ole Jensen, bell captain, said: “We consider ourselves immensely lucky to have received this money from the baroness but we will go on fund raising until we are absolutely certain the total will be reached.”

Mr Jensen said the Dennington bells were badly in need of further work. “It is like running an old car. It goes on and on but if you don't maintain the parts it will finally give out,” he said.

Local fund raising events for the bell appeal had included a plant sale, concerts and guided tours of the church followed by lunch in a private garden.

Local residents had also undertaken sponsored events including a half marathon and cycling across the Pennines from coast to coast.

Preparatory work in the 82ft high church tower is due to start this autumn and the actual bell restoration is scheduled for June 2009.

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