Cash boost for church campaign backed by Normal for Norfolk star

Desmond MacCarthy and Emma Bridgewater both backed a campaign to save Wiveton's St Mary's church.

Desmond MacCarthy and Emma Bridgewater both backed a campaign to save Wiveton's St Mary's church. - Credit: Supplied by Wiveton Church

A church restoration project backed by 'Normal for Norfolk' star Desmond MacCarthy has got a cash injection of £136,000 from the National Heritage Lottery Fund. 

It follows the launch of a campaign was launched to save St Mary's Church at Wiveton on the north Norfolk coast.

Mr MacCarthy, owner of Wiveton Hall, threw his weight behind the campaign alongside the pottery designer, Emma Bridgewater, who also has a home in the area. 

Charles Killin, project manager, said everyone involved was thrilled with the grant from the Lottery Fund. 

He said: "Upon completion of this project, this beautiful medieval building will be preserved for the use and benefit of future generations.

Wiveton's St Mary's church had to temporarily close after a beam fell from its ceiling.

Wiveton's St Mary's church had to temporarily close after a beam fell from its ceiling. - Credit: Supplied by Wiveton Church

"We will have inspired other churches across the diocese to increase their positive environmental impacts through a focused programme of nature conservation, enhancement and interpretation."

In 2019, during the storm, a roof beam fell from the ceiling of the church and crashed onto the altar and then onto a communion rail.

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No-one was injured but the church had to be temporarily closed. 

The grant, along with other money raised through the Friends of Wiveton Church and money from the Listed Places of Worship VAT recovery scheme, means the parochial parish council can go ahead with its ‘Church For The Future’ project. 

This will focus not just on repairing the ceiling, but also involves a programme of learning, interpretation and engagement.

This will include an environmental day conference in summer next year to 'prepare and equip' all churches across the Diocese of Norwich and beyond to respond to the climate emergency.

The Bishop of Norwich will deliver a keynote address and the conference will form the centrepiece of a year-long programme of nature conservation activities.

Highlights of the programme will be a haymaking day, a bat tracking evening, a ‘dark skies’ event and a churchyard survey by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

Other project activities will include a 'science and symbolism' themed day of learning for local schoolchildren.

There will also be new interpretive signage and trails  to help people explore the church building and the habitat around it. 

The project will begin in July 2022 should be finished by the end of next year.