“THE BELLS OF ST MARY’S – SECURING THE FUTURE”
Bletsoe wins Heritage Lottery Fund grant for major church bells restoration
The village of Bletsoe in North Bedfordshire is celebrating the award of £46,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, “The Bells of St Mary’s – securing the future”. Starting on Monday 11 August 2014, and led by volunteers from the local community, the project will see the removal and restoration of the entire peal of church bells from St Mary, Bletsoe which will be carried out by John Taylor & Co of Loughborough.
The bellringers of St Mary’s were keen to raise the money to restore the bells because years of use have made them very hard to ring. Tower Captain Paul Vine said “the bells will be so much easier to ring, especially new ringers who want to learn. We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has supported us with a major contribution to make this happen.”
What’s more, once the peal of bells is restored and returned, then local groups will have the opportunity to experience the concept of bell ringing through closed circuit TV links from the belfry in the tower of St Mary’s. Schools, youth groups and any other organisation will have the chance to enjoy ringing the newly restored handbells.
The St Mary, Bletsoe peal of bells is historically significant as the first peal cast by Robert Taylor of St Neots in 1786, one of the Taylor family which, today, just over 225 years later, will be carrying out the restoration not only as part of the village but also the company heritage.
Information on progress of the restoration work and of the activities or training can be found on www.bletsoebells.co.uk and anyone is welcome to come and take part in the training sessions.
Commenting on the award, Revd Martin Bailey, Rector of St Mary’s, said ”We are thrilled and thankful to God to receive such generous support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. We’re looking forward to our bells ringing out even more tunefully and joyfully when the work is complete!”
Explaining the importance of the HLF support, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, Robyn Llewellyn said “This is a great example of how Heritage Lottery Funding benefits heritage and people. In addition to the important restoration work on the bells, the plans for community activities and getting volunteers involved are impressive and this has all the elements that make up a successful project.”
About the Heritage Lottery Fund
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported over 36,000 projects with more than £5.9bn across the UK. www.hlf.org.uk.