In August 2019 disaster struck St Mary’s when a large roof beam in the chancel fell down without warning, causing damage to the altar, so that this much-loved church had to be closed for several months that autumn.
Although temporary repairs were carried out so that the church could be open again by Christmas, full repairs had to be carried out within two years if the church were not to be closed permanently. That was unthinkable, but the cost was going to be over £150,000, a huge amount for a village with a population of only 127 to raise.
Many people prayed for a solution and it is clear that God did not want St Mary’s to close.
The PCC’s strategy has been to put in requests to lots of funders, along with a major bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which is now ready to be submitted. The Friends of Wiveton have also been very active in fundraising and we now have a good matching sum for the lottery bid.
One of the most successful parts of the fundraising campaign, which many churches may not think of doing, has been to launch a campaign on www.crowdfunder.co.uk. A local film-maker, Barney Broom, generously offered to shoot a short film for us, and local landowner Desmond McCarthy (of ‘Normal for Norfolk’ fame) and his cousin Emma Bridgewater, who has made a special mug for the project, kindly recorded an interview. The crowdfunding campaign was launched in November and ran for two months. A total of £19,300 was raised through the site with donations from 150 people based all over the country, including many with happy memories of holidaying in the area. Some of the comments we received were lovely and will definitely strengthen the lottery bid. Other generous donors gave a further £4,000 offline while the campaign was running.
Setting up a crowdfunding campaign is not difficult technically (the site takes a small percentage of the donations), if you can find someone to shoot a video for you, and the publicity it generates for your project is really valuable. We didn’t know how much affection there was for our lovely church! I would definitely recommend trying it.
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