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Which lucky Suffolk town has won £100k of lottery funding?

PUBLISHED: 16:30 06 November 2019

Winston Girling, captain of the tower, looking at the frame which currently holds the bells in place. Picture: TOM ROCHESTER

Winston Girling, captain of the tower, looking at the frame which currently holds the bells in place. Picture: TOM ROCHESTER

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Church bells that have been ringing for 140 years are finally getting some well-earned peace and quiet - thanks to £100,000 worth of lottery funding.

St Peter and St Mary's Parish church in Stowmarket is the lucky winner of nearly £100,000 in funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Picture: MAUREEN GARDINERSt Peter and St Mary's Parish church in Stowmarket is the lucky winner of nearly £100,000 in funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Picture: MAUREEN GARDINER

St Peter and St Mary's Parish Church, in Stowmarket, has bagged £95,100 to replace 10 of its bells in a project costing a grand total of £179,000.

Dr Maureen Gardiner, project coordinator, said: "This grant from the lottery fund has brought the dream to fruition and we are so grateful to the lottery players who made this possible. Without this project, we would have lost a precious part of our history."

There have been a number of charities who have contributed with fundraising efforts such as the Suffolk Guild of Ringers, the Sapphire Fund, the Alfred Williams Trust, the Lord Belstead Charitable Settlement and the Ganzoni Trust.

Dr Gardiner added: "We have had tremendous support from organisations, local charities and many people from Stowmarket and beyond during two years of fundraising.

Winston Girling is the captain of the tower at St Pter and St Mary's Parish Church and will be helping in the restoration work next year. Picture: TOM ROCHESTERWinston Girling is the captain of the tower at St Pter and St Mary's Parish Church and will be helping in the restoration work next year. Picture: TOM ROCHESTER

"Now I hope we can make a real contribution to people's knowledge and pride in the town's heritage."

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Stowmarket Town Council, Mid-Suffolk District Council and the Allchurches Trust have given grants to help fund the project.

It is hoped that the new peal will be built as soon as a 2020 by specialist team Nicholson's Engineering of Dorset, supported by volunteers led by Stowmarket tower captain Winston Girling.

Mr Girling completes bell restoration across the country and leads the bell ringers.

The frame currently holding the bells has been in place for 125 years and is weakening gradually due to it now flexing when the bells are rung.

But the refurbishment is not the only good news.

A year-long programme of events and activities will be happening in Stowmarket once the bells are restored.

Among the activities is the chance for people to have a go at bell ringing for themselves, with a new group of ringers hoping to be trained.

The bells are part of a 500-year-old tradition, and it is hoped that being able to see them up close in an exhibition will inspire residents to take pride in the heritage of the town.

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