Film crews visit Yarmouth church to celebrate funding

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Film crews visit Yarmouth church to celebrate funding

A film crew from Historic England visited St Mary’s, Great Yarmouth at the end of January to share the story of the amazing impact that grant funding has had on the parish and the wider community. Historic Churches Support Officer, Eloise Limmer, reports.

St Mary’s roof has been leaking for many years causing damage to the beautiful internal wall paintings. This has been devastating for the community to watch but the costs of renewing the roof was out of reach of the parish despite fundraising efforts.

However, over the last two years, St Mary’s has been lucky to receive £446,730 in funding from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, which in turn received money from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, which was administered by Historic England under an urgent repair programme.

After receiving funding in the first round, work began with re-roofing the chancel and side chapels, which was completed last summer. Late last year St Mary’s found out they had been successful once again in gaining funding for the next phase of the project to ensure that this important historic building is watertight and to prevent further deterioration of the beautiful internal decoration. The works will remove the existing concrete tile roof coverings from the roofs of the nave and side aisles and replace them with Welsh slate to match that installed on the chancel and side chapels under the first round of works and should be completed by June 2022.

Historic England were so impressed with St Marys’ story that they decided to showcase the works as part of their celebration of the grant scheme. A team from Bonfire Films in London are creating a short video about the project that will be shared on Historic England’s website and social media.

The team interviewed Fr Anthony Nwankwo, Brian Lafferty (Chair of the Parish Finance Committee), Suzi Pendlebury (Architect) and many parishioners, capturing inspiring footage of the large, multi-cultural congregation giving thanks amongst the scaffolding.

Mass was held underneath the internal scaffolding that covers the whole of the nave ceiling; with scaffolding poles placed amongst the pews it was a constant reminder that the next phase of the long awaited works was finally beginning.

Fr Anthony led the congregation in a round of applause in thanks for funding and everyone gathered in the parish hall afterwards for tea and cake to continue the celebrations.

Once the church is watertight, the parish will be able to focus on other items on their ‘wish list’ the first of which would be to restore the mural of Our Lady of Yarmouth that has been almost destroyed by water from the leaking roofs. The parish also want to extend its outreach and renovate the parish hall so it can be used for a wide range of community uses.

As well as everything he does as Chair of Parish Finance Committee, Brian Lafferty is also a drone operator in his spare time and has captured the process of the scaffolding slowly covering the whole church

A crew from BBC Look East also attended mass on Sunday January 30 and broadcast the story of the roof works and the work still to be done to conserve the internal paintings – the clip can be viewed here:

Pictured above is the Historic England film crew at the St Mary’s Mass and, below, BBC Look East interview Fr Anthony Nwankwo. Pictures by Brian Lafferty.