The appeal to renovate an historic Lynn church for the 21st century is an example for others across the country, a charity boss has said.
The comment was made during a ground-breaking ceremony at St Nicholas’ Chapel on Friday, where supporters were able to see the work that is now under way there.
And the group that has led the efforts to restore the church over many years is now calling for people to come forward to help run it once the project is completed next year.
As previously reported, campaigners had to raise £210,000 towards the £2.7 million total cost of the project, in order to secure funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
But guests heard money was still coming in to lift the total raised to around £250,000, well in excess of the original target.
Crispin Truman, chief executive of the Churches Conservation Trust which looks after more than 300 unused churches in England, said: “The King’s Lynn campaign really is a model.
“The way you have inspired local people to work together is absolutely fantastic.”
Sir Jeremy Bagge, who led the fundraising effort, also paid tribute to the chapel’s Friends group and his own committee for their work, as well as to the “tremendous generosity” of individuals, businesses and charities who have supported the project.
He said: “This chapel is a diamond among the treasures of King’s Lynn.
“King’s Lynn is so lucky there are people who take on the challenge and preservation of it.”
Contractors have already been on the St Ann’s Street site for several weeks putting up scaffolding before work to install new solar panels, low energy heating systems, toilet and kitchen facilities can take place.
And Sir Jeremy added: “I very much hope, when the restoration is completed, we will be able to host a party for everybody that has helped to show them exactly what has been achieved through their generosity.”
It is hoped the project will be completed by May, with the chapel re-opening to the public next summer.
Friends’ chairman Adrian Parker said the scaffolding around the building showed the scale of the work to be undertaken over the next few months.
He added: “It’s a shocking moment in case anything goes wrong.”
However, he is also looking ahead to the moment when the chapel will once again be open to the public as a community and concert venue.
And he wants to hear from people who want to get involved with the running of the building once the building work is completed.
He said: “We have to run this as a small business and we need more people to join us and help us with that sort of work.
“Some of us have been at it since 2002, since the Friends were formed, and need to step back.”
Anyone interested in getting involved should contact Mr Parker on 01553 675574.