A 50th anniversary service was held at St Edmundsbury Cathedral on Sunday 17th September and invitations were sent to every church, chapel and meeting house in Suffolk.
There is a gallery of cathedral photos HERE
In 1973, a small group of church-lovers realised that, if Suffolk’s historic churches and chapels were to survive for the future with increasingly small congregations, they needed financial help. The Trust is non-denominational and all churches, chapels and meeting houses, of any age, are eligible to apply for grants to help fund repairs to their building or to make improvements such as disabled access, toilets and kitchens, enabling the building can be used for community and fundraising events.
In fifty years, supporters have raised the equivalent of around £10 million in today’s money, from the membership fees of its ‘Friends’ organisation, from donations, grants, legacies, and, in particular, from the annual Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride sponsored event and, more recently, the Pedal and Drive Vintage and Classic Car rally.
Each year the Trust helps between 40 and 50 places of worship of all denominations and ages, also advising churches on other sources of grant aid. The Trust awards grants, of up to £20,000, for churches or chapels that must be in regular use as a place of worship, open or easily accessible to the public, and the rest of the money needed can be raised.
The Chairman of the Trust Geoffrey Probert said, “ We are very excited about this landmark year. It is a wonderful opportunity to pay tribute to our forbears who built this Trust and who have over those fifty years raised and given out some £10 million of grants in todays money; to thank all our hundreds of supporters who turn out every second Saturday in September on bikes, in old cars and on foot to raise money for the church buildings; and above all to recognise the selfless hard work of all those volunteer churchwardens, treasurers and Friends of churches up and down Suffolk who care for and raise sums-often dauntingly large- for the upkeep of our glorious legacy of churches & chapels”.
The 50th anniversary of Suffolk Historic Churches Trust will be marked by several special events this year:
A NEW HYMN FOR OUR 50TH ANNIVERSARY!
‘Stand on the Faith’ is a brand new song written by Andy Rayner to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Suffolk Historic Churches Trust, and is on Youtube and all audio streaming platforms. For more details CLICK HERE.
- The Winter Study Day for Friends of the Trust looked at the history of the organisation, Victorian churches and Medieval church decorations. Speakers were Howard Stephens, Roy Tricker and Clive Paine. (To join the Trust as a Friend click HERE)
- Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride (click HERE) and Pedal & Drive (click HERE) on Saturday 9th September.
- A special service at St Edmundsbury Cathedral on Sunday 17th September.
- As a lasting legacy of the anniversary, the Trust plan to hold two workshops to advise churches on how to set up Church Friends group, that can assist with local fundraising. (Details to be announced)
- Plans are underway for the Trust to create a central database of Suffolk church guide books.