Church set for six-figure lottery grant to restore its place in community

Beeston Church. Picture: Archant Library.

Beeston Church. Picture: Archant Library. - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk church in need of repairs has secured a five-figure sum from the Heritage Lottery Fund – with a further £200,000 set to be awarded to revive its place in the community.

St Mary the Virgin Church in Beeston was awarded £29,000 over the summer from the HLF for 'repairs, careers and community engagement'.

Scoping work is taking place with the initial cash to prepare detailed reports of repairs needed, before a bid is submitted for the second stage of £200,000 early next year, which is expected to be granted.

If approved work could begin next summer.

Churchwarden Andrew Lawrence said: 'We are very, very pleased because we failed a bid in the first stage about a year-and-a-half or two years ago.

'We resubmitted it and it was much more detailed, so we are delighted to have been awarded this money.

'It's a very gratifying and rewarding project to do – trying to keep the church upright for the next years.'

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Repair works will include improvements to the ceiling, roof and parapet which Mr Lawrence said was in need of 'substantial work'.

But the scheme will also see a tie up with local schools on career opportunities, archaeology and history of the site, its place in the community and how it adapts to modern demands.

Mr Lawrence said: 'It's generally bringing the church into village life, which probably over the years has dropped off a bit, so the more we can do with the schools and community events the better.'

He added: 'I think it is very important because the legacy of this must go on.

'It's something for the future that people can look back on these buildings that are here and have withstood time, and people should be able to use it for services, for the community events, and continue to use it.

'That's why it is very important. The churches should be looking at diversifying into other events, not just services. In this day and age you cannot survive just for a few services, weddings and funerals – we have to be looking outside the box.'

Once the reports have been put together, the bid will be submitted early next year ahead of a planned start date of construction work in the summer.