Bell Restoration Project
Between placing the contract and starting the work
By the beginning of September we had Faculty approval to do the work and sufficient funds promised to allow us to place the order to re-hang the bells. Fundraising would need to continue to allow for various extras including community engagement, but we could commit to re-hanging the bells.
On the 3rd September 2018 the contract to refurbish the bells and their accessories was awarded to John Taylor & Co. Early in 2019 our bells would make the journey to the bell foundry in Loughborough where they would be restored and rehung. The project had become a reality.
Meanwhile we continued to raise awareness within the community. Apparently the ringers had not previously entered the village Christmas Tree Festival. This seemed a bit of an oversight; we could help to raise our profile in the run-up to Christmas and have some fun at the same time.
Clearly the theme had to be connected to re-hanging the bells: what better than a tree with a man on a ladder doing just that. White tree decorated with nothing but bells - real bells that tinkled when shaken; an implausibly long balsa wood ladder; and last, but by no means least, a figure on the ladder dressed in a maroon jacket complete with embroidered Taylor's motif, carrying a bell. It was an imaginative work of art, but for the voting public it seems it didn't have quite the appeal of the butcher's illuminated fluffy sheep! Maybe next year.
Early in the process we had put up a display at the back of the church to raise awareness of the project. This was a montage of church and bell photos with short explanations of the work that had to been done. The display brought inspiration to local artist Judith Bassett who painted a wonderful representation of a bell against the backdrop of the church tower. Judith very kindly donated the picture to us to raise funds for the project. It was raffled just before Christmas and raised £100.
Fundraising continued throughout the autumn with mixed success. Although most aspects of the restoration work were being supported there was little enthusiasm amongst donors to support the community involvement. Then, quite unexpectedly, a lack of cooperation between one of the ringers and a bell rope led to the rope guide being damaged. We were going to need more money - the time had come to approach the Heritage Lottery Fund. We put together our application and kept out fingers crossed. To our immense relief, by mid February we had been awarded a grant that would cover all the community projects we wanted to do and supply a little extra for the bell work.