Bletsoe is very proud to have received a Heritage Lottery Funding award of £46,700 to restore the bells belonging to our lovely church St. Mary. We started looking into lottery funding in 2011 and after much form filling and decision making, finally in June 2014 we received the news that we had been successful in our grant application. As anyone knows lottery funding is all about the community as the money belongs to the people so even more hard work lies ahead but we are up for the challenge!
There is a five year project plan in place not only to restore the bells but to restore the bell frame and the ringing chamber which will be done by volunteers. This will result in a more safer and welcoming ringing environment. Our plan also involves inviting groups of people to learn about the restoration, bell ringing etc. via displays and talks. Through CCTV the bell tower and ringing chamber will be visible. Our handbells were recently restored and these will also be available for taster sessions and there will be handbells especially for our younger visitors.
We applied to HLF for 89% of funding which we recieved and the remainder has come from the bell fund. The majority of the this contribution came from Paul and Mary Laws who instead of wedding gifts when they got married, requested their guests donated to the bell fund.
Thank you Paul and Mary.
Also thank you to Barbara Button from the village who saves her 50p pieces especially for the bell fund and has donated well over one hundred pounds. Thank you Barbara.
The bell ringers pay a subscription each on practice nights and this has raised to date over £500. Thank you bell ringers.
There have been other various donations so thank you to all involved.
Our two volunteers from Sharnbrook Pat Albon and Simon Sweeney have been more than helpful and we cannot thank them enough for assisting with removing the bells. They had the necessary skills the bell hanger from Taylors required. Having three volunteers in place to assist with the removal of the bells and also when the bells return has saved over £3500 from John Taylor’s quotation.
The CCTV system was finally completed on August 23rd 2015. There were various issues such has not enough cameras and the audio system needed to be upgraded but we are up and running at last! Parishioners will be able to see the CCTV in action on 6th September 2015 for the rededication of the bells by the Bishop of Bedford.