Emma Bridgewater mugs help threatened church raise over £20,000

Desmond MacCarthy and Emma Bridgewater are backing the campaign to save Wiveton's St Mary's church.

Desmond MacCarthy and Emma Bridgewater are backing the campaign to save Wiveton's St Mary's church. - Credit: Supplied by Wiveton Church

The promise of a exclusive mug by Emma Bridgewater has helped a threatened coastal church raise a massive £22,700 in under two months. 

Lay minister Dr Roger Bland is now planning to apply for Heritage Lottery funding to go towards a planned £200,000 project to repair the ceiling of Wiveton's St Mary's church after damage in a storm in August 2019.

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

Mrs Bridgewater, who has a home in the area, and her cousin Desmond MacCarthy of Wiveton Hall threw their weight behind the appeal, with the ceramics firm director offering special edition mugs for anyone who gave more than £100.

Dr Bland said he was delighted with the sum raised through the Crowdfunder appeal.

"It's amazing how many people did give," he said.

Wiveton's church needs repairs after a beam fell from the ceiling during a storm.

Wiveton's church needs repairs after a beam fell from the ceiling during a storm. - Credit: Supplied by Wiveton Church

"The crowdfunding money will be really helpful because the lottery like to see proof that there's local support for a project, and you could not have demonstrated that more clearly."

During the storm a roof beam fell from the ceiling 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. 

Desmond MacCarthy, who lives at Wiveton Hall and is backing a campaign to save the village's St Mary

Desmond MacCarthy, who lives at Wiveton Hall and is backing a campaign to save the village's St Mary's church. - Credit: Supplied by Wiveton Church

The church has since reopened thanks to temporary repairs, but Dr Bland was told the works had to be started during 2022, or it may be too late to save the structure.

"The engineer has given us a bit of a lifeline by keeping it going," he said. 

Dr Bland said he wanted to thank everyone who had supported the appeal to save the 15th century place of worship. 

"We had 140 gifts - there were quite a lot of local people but there were people from all over the country as well," he said.  

"I think a lot of people have visited Wiveton on their holidays and they may remember the church from then."

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

Speaking in support of the appeal, Mr MacCarthy - known for his starring role in the BBC documentary series Normal for Norfolk, said of the church: "It's in a romantic position in that the valley was once tidal, there was even a small port and the ships and their crews were blessed before they set off on a voyage.

"People have been gathering here for more than 700 years to worship and celebrate family events - weddings, funerals and christenings. It's a really special building."

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