from the Athelney Benefice magazine
Farewell to Alms
On Saturday 15 April a full church heard Mary Stewart-Wilson and friends present a musical evening. The concert was to have been the final fundraising event for the Appeal of Bells, last September, but it was postponed because of the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II. The passage of time meant the evening turned out to be the last event ever for the Appeal. It celebrated the remarkable success of the Appeal, which has now been declared closed and complete.
It is very nearly three years since the Tower Captain, Darren Woodyer, and his predecessor Paul Scott launched an appeal. At the time, no one was at all confident that £150,000 could be raised. But the cause captured the imagination – not to mention the emotions – of people throughout North Curry and beyond; and the village rose to the challenge.
In those three years, which spanned the whole period of the Covid pandemic, we have raised over £150,000 and re-cast our eight bells – seven of them the first in the world with the King Charles III cypher, and one honouring the late Queen. They were due to be dedicated by Bishop Michael on 30 April, and (we hoped) rung on the day of the King’s coronation, 6 May.
The final few tasks in the bell tower will continue in May: for example, reinstating the clock, which many people have missed so much. The committee will then stand down once the last administrative tasks have been completed.
But as far as the main task is concerned – renewing the bell frame and bells – we can already say, ‘Job done.’
Many people have supported the Appeal in many different ways: with time, donations, organising events or providing practical assistance. The Appeal has benefited from many quiet, thoughtful acts of kindness and goodwill.
The numbers tell the story. Over 300 people donated directly to the Appeal and well over a thousand have supported our 13 main events. More than 200, including many children, came to view the bells over the Easter weekend when they were lined up in the nave before being hoisted into the tower.
Hoisting the bells into the bell chamber (Photo: Colin Trim)
The Appeal has been a triumphant achievement for the village and however people have supported us we offer our heartfelt thanks. We shall publish a full Register of Supporters (omitting only those who wished to remain anonymous), but some should be mentioned in particular.
The bellringers originated the Appeal, and we thank all those who have continued to support it. The PCC set up a sub-committee to guide the Appeal comprising Geoffrey Dart (chair), Vicar Simon, David Akerman, Mary Piers, Helen Griffiths, Martin Horrox, Sarah Stroud and (until 2021) Darren Woodyer. A small working group carried out the bulk of the planning, co-ordination and detailed execution of the Appeal: Geoffrey Dart, David Akerman, Martin Horrox and Steve Jackson, supported by Alex Dart, Gillian Akerman, Morag Woudhuysen and Rowena Jackson. Tony and Penny Ross ran the successful on-line auction; with Rowena Jackson they also organised the events for the Appeal. Paul Scott meticulously recorded all donations and wrote personal thank-you letters to donors. Alison and Noel Prosser in the Post Office allowed us to display innumerable notices and sold tickets. Colin Trim and Julian Comrie have kept a photographic record of the Appeal.
So thank you to everyone – community and church.
The Appeal is over, but the new bells will ring out for centuries to come. They are the gift of us all to future generations in North Curry.