Bulb scheme aims to help North Runcton fund grow

Bulb planting IAO North Runcton parish church repairs ANL-161017-085145009
Bulb planting IAO North Runcton parish church repairs ANL-161017-085145009

A bulb planting initiative could help to grow the funds needed to keep a West Norfolk village’s church open.

More than £200,000 is needed to pay for repairs to the roof of All Saints’ Church in North Runcton.

To help the cause, residents and community leaders have been planting new bulbs around the village’s green, which they hope will bloom in time for fundraising events to take place in the spring.

Church officials and parish councillors were among those taking part in the planting session on Saturday morning.

The effort followed a clean-up of the churchyard held last weekend, in which more than two tonnes of debris was cleared.

And Ken Matthews, one of the church’s wardens, said it showed the village was coming together again after residents rejected proposals to grant another religious group special access rights to part of a parish council-owned road earlier this year, in order to reach its own lands.

He said: “People have said there’s no sense of community, but it’s beginning to emerge.”

Around £19,000 has so far been raised towards the cost of repairs to the roof and interior of the church, most of which dates back to the 18th century.

However, at least £200,000 more is needed to pay for the work and church officials are currently preparing an application for Heritage Lottery Fund support, which they plan to submit by the end of this month.

Although some short-term repairs have been paid for, Mr Matthews estimates it could take three to four years to complete the permanent repairs the building needs.

He said: “It’s a damp church with a roof that could give us trouble at any time.”

The planting initiative was organised by the village’s parish council and follows a fierce controversy in the village over a proposed agreement to grant the Seventh Day Adventist Church access rights for a section of School Lane owned by the parish council, so it could reach an area of land it owns.

Residents rejected the proposal in two separate votes in April and council chairman Rick Morrish said it was hoped the initiative would help the community to move forward from the saga and tidy up the village at the same time.

He said: “We’re trying to get as many people as possible involved.

“A lot of people were concerned the village was looking a bit scruffy.

“We thought this was an ideal way of getting everybody involved.”

Plans are being developed for fundraising events to take place next April, around the Easter weekend, when supporters hope the bulbs planted now will be in full flower.

The church is also planning to hold a sale of new tiles which will be needed as part of the repair project.