Hitcham is celebrating winning a major grant from Viridor Credits for a Community Hub in their village church.

The independent charity has awarded the £100k project, a whopping £68k grant through the Landfill Communities Fund (LCF) from their Mason’s site which will pay to build an equal access toilet and servery in a room recently constructed at the base of the church tower. It will also connect the church to the main drains.

‘The village is absolutely delighted’, said Nicola Currie. ‘All Saints is a magnificent medieval building which provides a huge space but we could never make full use of it because we didn’t have that all important toilet nor a kitchenette for providing refreshments.  Now the whole community can use the church for all sorts of things from small informal groups to major concerts and exhibitions.’

The village is in the middle of restoring its church bells which has required a major reorganisation of the layout in the church and its tower. This has been organised by Nicola as secretary of The Friends of Hitcham Church.

‘It was like the icing on the cake to hear that we can now complete all our plans to modernise the building. We dubbed it the ‘Evolution’ of our church in a nod to our most famous rector the Reverend Professor John Stevens Henslow who was Charles Darwin’s tutor and mentor. Keeping a medieval building sound requires sufficient funds to keep on top of repairs before they get out of hand. Now we can use the church for fund raising events, knowing everyone of all ages can be accommodated and made welcome without having to incur extra costs.

The grant will also upgrade the lighting to LED fittings and pay for a set of comfortable conference chairs.

‘One of the criteria for the grant was that we could demonstrate that we could start work promptly. Thanks to generous donations from the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust, the All Churches Trust and the Shadwell Estate along with our own fundraising we were able to do this.

Alison Salvador, General Manager at Viridor Credits said, ‘Congratulations to all involved with the application from the Hitcham Parochial Church Council and The Friends of Hitcham Church on securing the award through the Landfill Communities Fund. Providing quality community space for everyone to enjoy is major aim of the LCF. At Viridor Credits, the Board of Trustees were delighted to support this important local facility. We look forward to seeing the finished renovation and the church being used by the whole of the local community, to its full potential.’

Viridor Credits were very helpful throughout the two part application process which was complicated by Lockdown restrictions. The usual site visit was not possible so we made a video on a mobile phone to explain how the work fitted in to the existing space and to show what a difference the facilities would make. ‘We lost count of how many takes we did’, exclaimed Nicola. ‘But it has all been worth it!’