On behalf of Scarning Parochial Church Council Report, Sue Rockley delivered the following report at the recent Annual Parish Meeting –

“Looking at key events during the year, the invasion of the Ukraine has had a massive impact – bringing untold suffering to both sides in the war.  We were pleased to help run two events in support of Ukrainian families – a special coffee morning and a splendid concert by the Big Heart and Soul Choir resulting in a donation of £2,230.  This was a great example of the village coming together to support others.

The knock-on effects of the war have been widespread, resulting in huge increases in energy and other costs.  We are pleased to be working with the Parish Council on the community help boxes in the church porch.  Again, the village is working together to help people.  

In terms of the Dereham and District Team Ministry, Paul Cubitt, the Team Rector, is now supported by Revd Laura Purnell.  Laura’s role is split between looking after Shipdham and East and West Bradenham and having responsibility for reaching out to schools in the benefice.  She is already making great progress.  

At Christmas the younger pupils from Scarning School came to church for a Christingle service, and last week the older children walked up to church for an Easter service.  The chatter of more than two hundred children as they walked up to church was a real tonic and it was lovely to hear so many young people singing the pieces that they had practised for the occasion.  

Revd James Rosie left in December, and we are delighted that from June the Revd Rachael Dines will be the new team vicar with responsibility for Swanton Morley, Beetley, East Bilney and Hoe.  This appointment should allow the Rector to spend more time here – he is an energetic leader and keen to see Scarning church flourish.

We recently hosted a concert by Dereham Band and their conductor was greatly impressed by the church’s acoustic, which is very special.   We are delighted that the Big Heart and Soul Choir is returning to Scarning in December for their Christmas Concert. 

The PCC is grateful to the Parish Council for funding the cutting of the grass in the churchyard and for providing the village Christmas tree – it is always such a delight to see the tree and village hall lit for the festive season.  

We are grateful to everyone who helps the church in any way – either through running or supporting events, ringing bells, or serving bacon butties at the monthly coffee mornings.   

And now, the elephant in the room.  In 2022, the church had its quinquennial inspection.  Every five years the Diocese funds an inspection of the building.  The 2022 report contained serious news about the tower which needs repairs costing more than £300,000.  We will be putting together a bid to the Heritage Lottery fund for grant aid.  As part of the grant application, we will need a project which, as well as the necessary repairs, supports wider use of the building.   We are looking at the installation of an accessible toilet, a small kitchen facility and a large store cupboard.   To accommodate the toilet and cupboard in the base of the tower, we want to raise the ringing floor.  We have already run these ideas past the Diocesan Advisory Committee who are supportive.  

As a safety measure the base of the tower has been fenced off, and we have applied for the tower to be put on the Heritage at Risk Register.  We are now asking architects to submit their ideas for the internal improvements and will then begin the grant application process.

This brings me back to the theme of working together.  In order to succeed in securing the funding, we will need to involve the wider community and we hope that volunteers will come forward to join the project team.  We do not have a name for the campaign as yet – It could be the 4Ts (Tower, Toilet, Teas, Team).  There will be more information in due course in the Beacon etc and plans will be put on display.  

This is a critical project for a beautiful church and we hope that the village will once again work together to secure the future of its most iconic building.”

– Sue Rockley