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Symbolic new start at Coltishall

PUBLISHED: 12:49 30 January 2008 | UPDATED: 08:49 13 July 2010

A BUNCH of ordinary-looking keys, handed from two priests to another, marked the symbolic moment when former RAF Coltishall's church opened its doors and heart to a fresh community.

A BUNCH of ordinary-looking keys, handed from two priests to another, marked the symbolic moment when former RAF Coltishall's church opened its doors and heart to a fresh community.

Its new vicar, the Rev Elizabeth Bailey, hopes the building will become a focal point of community life, drawing people together.

The key ceremony took place during a rededication service at St Edward's Church on Sunday attended by clergy, community leaders and some of those civvy street families who are making new lives in homes once occupied by RAF personnel.

Mrs Bailey accepted the keys from two former RAF Coltishall chaplains, the Rev (Wg Cdr) Andrew Turner, and the Rev Andrew Lane.

St Edwards has undergone a £37,000 refit, to modernise it and provide a kitchen and disabled toilet, since it was bought by the Diocese of Norwich from the Ministry of Defence last September.

Annington Homes, which is selling the former RAF homes, gave £25,500 to the project, with other donations from contractors.

A group of eight parents and their 10 babies and toddlers held a first meeting in the church last week and 1st Buxton and Lammas Guides have also moved there.

The Rt Rev James Langstaff, Bishop of Lynn, who conducted the service, told the congregation: “There are things beginning to happen in this community and who knows what may follow.”

He welcomed the church's links with the United Reformed Church at Wroxham and Hoveton and hoped other partnerships would be forged.

Among the congregation were new residents Tony and Aurea Greenhalgh who moved from the Isle of Mann last month.

The couple have retired to the area to be nearer their three daughters and other family members. Mrs Greenhalgh grew up in Elderton Lodge, at Thorpe Market, when it was a private home, and went to school in North Walsham.

She said: “We just love it here. There's a good mix of people of all ages, plenty of space and we feel safe.”

The most poignant moment during the service came after the Bishop prayed for the future wellbeing of the church and community and a little girl aged about two clearly echoed his “Amen” into the silence, provoking delighted laughter from the rest of the congregation.

·Spencer Whalley, North Norfolk District Councillor for Scottow, said after the service that a meeting of residents would be called shortly to discuss possible names for the former RAF base. Mr Whalley planned to spend this week researching some of the alternatives.

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