Harvest service in Mundesley’s Ship Inn

Church choristers belting out harvest hymns against a display of home-grown produce are part of autumn's heritage - except when the ancient tradition is taking place in a pub.

That was the scene in Mundesley's Ship Inn on Sunday where rector Rod Key and his All Saint's Church congregation joined pub regulars to celebrate the season's bounty.

The event saw drinkers and worshippers fill The Ship to its gunnels for a rousing service of hymns followed by an auction of donated produce which raised about �270 for Mundesley's independent inshore lifeboat.

Pub manager Matt Galasky said the original idea had been for customers to donate vegetables in return for a pint and the lifeboat crew had then planned to distribute the offerings around local care homes.

But that scheme had 'escalated', said Mr Galasky, leading to the Rev Key's arrival. He brought with him church organist Hazel Collingham, seven members of the choir and a few of the congregation.

'It was cheerful chaos - but all very positive,' said Mr Key. 'I've been invited to do carols in pubs before, but not one of these for a long time.'

The venue had meant many people who would not normally go to church had taken part in, and enjoyed, the service, which had included a pub-goer reading a Norfolk harvest poem in a local accent, he added.

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Ship regular John Barrett, who conducted the auction, had earned a cheer when he announced: 'If you can't take the people to the church, take the church to the people,' according to Mr Galasky.

Coxswain Brian Hall and fellow lifeboat crew members were among the pub's harvest congregation.

Keeping the service afloat cost between �25,000 and �30,000 each year, said Mr Hall.

The lifeboat relied entirely on local fundraising, much of which came from a charity shop in the village. An annual pantomime in Mundesley's Coronation Hall, also boosted the coffers.

Mr Hall said the service's radio equipment was being updated, and their 17-year-old pager system was also in need of modernisation.

So far this year the 4.5m rigid inflatable boat had been out on five rescues, compared to 13 last year.

* Pub manager Matt Galasky was on crutches during Sunday's proceedings after breaking two toes playing football the previous day.

Mr Galasky, 33, was playing for Mundesley against Gimingham when he was injured during a tackle.

'It was the first time I'd played in eight years and what happened? I ended up in A&E!' he said.

The only consolation for Mr Galasky was that the tackle prevented Gimingham scoring and the match result was 1-0 to Mundesley.