Church hit by tower closure ready for flower festival

Its iconic 14th century upper tower may have closed for the first time in history but the mood is far from doom and gloom at Fakenham Parish Church.

Today sees the start of a five-day flower festival at the church, called Headline News in Flowers.

Volunteers were busy yesterday preparing for the event which Rev Adrian Bell hopes will raise between �3,000 and �5,000 towards repairs to the tower.

The tower closed last Wednesday because of health and safety concerns.

The festival will feature 27 set arrangements, with flowers costing �1,300, all of which have been sponsored.

The flower arrangements will show major world news events including the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, the election of America's first black president, the first moon landing, the great fire of London, the England football team's 1966 World Cup victory and the terrorist attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York.

Mr Bell said: 'We hold flower festivals at the church every two years and I expect about 5,000 people will attend. It's the first time in the nine years that I've been at this church that all of the flowers have been sponsored and I think the generosity of people in Fakenham in these economic times is tremendous.

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'We should be able to raise a decent amount of money for the church tower, but the main thing is for the local community to have a good time. Local school children will be coming along and this will be an interesting way for them to learn about events in history.'

Mr Bell estimates that around �100,000 will be needed to repair the church's 115ft upper tower which is one of the highest church towers in Norfolk.

An application will be sent to English Heritage for funding and it is hoped the tower will reopen next summer.

Entry is free to the festival which is from today until Monday from 10am to 5pm, with a festival service on Sunday at 10.30am. The festival opens at noon on that day.