Residents in a small West Suffolk village are celebrating the creation of a new meeting place following the conversion of a 13thCentury church tower.
For years social groups in Lackford had to gather either in the cold, draughty church, take turns to host around each other’s homes, or travel out of the village for their meetings.
That has all changed however due to a £70,000 project to turn the church tower into a small meeting room as well as new toilets and a kitchenette.
The scheme has been more than four years in the making, during which time, residents in the village, which has just over 100 homes, have been busy fundraising.
The project has also been backed by £10,000 from the borough council’s Rural Initiatives Grant Scheme, £1,000 from the locality budget of St Edmundsbury councillor Susan Glossop, £2,000 from the locality budget of Suffolk County councillor Beccy Hopfensperger and £10,000 from the Havebury Housing Partnership. Other funders include the Big Lottery Fund Awards for All, the Ganzoni Trust, All Churches Trust, Suffolk Historic Churches Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, Dulverton Fund, Suffolk Community Foundation and The Foyle Foundation.
Colin Smith, one of the co-ordinators behind the project said: “We may be a small village but we are a very active one. It feels fantastic, after all the planning and all the fundraising to be celebrating this achievement. Lackford Parochial Church Council would like to extend a huge thank you to all who put funding into this project, in particular our borough and county councillors, Susan Glossop and Beccy Hopfensperger who not only donated from their locality budgets, but also directed us to other sources of funding which then allowed us to get on and complete the work.”
Councillor Glossop said: “It is a thriving village but the one thing that Lackford lacked until now was a natural place to meet all year around. This just shows the strong sense of community in the village and what residents can achieve. The church has stood since the 13thCentury and I hope that this meeting room within the church tower itself will provide a warmer, more comfortable setting for residents to gather for many, many years to come.”
Councillor Hopfensperger said: “This is a tribute to the vision, the hard work and the fundraising effort of residents in Lackford. It has taken four years but with grit and determination, they have delivered on what they set out to do, and now the village has a meeting room which everyone can benefit from. I know Sue and myself are delighted to have been able to support residents in achieving this success which will allow the village clubs to grow in membership and to hold even more events.”
Revd Canon Mark Haworth said: “These wonderful facilities enable us to put the parish church back at the centre of village life again. They will enable a resurgence of activity in this ancient, unique and beautiful building.”