Church saviour

ENGLISH Heritage has announced a campaign to save English churches from decay. Part of its five-point plan is for congregations to help themselves in various ways. This report is apposite at this time as the villagers of Hemingford Abbots prepare for thei

ENGLISH Heritage has announced a campaign to save English churches from decay. Part of its five-point plan is for congregations to help themselves in various ways.

This report is apposite at this time as the villagers of Hemingford Abbots prepare for their biennial Flower Festival, the proceeds of which are devoted solely to the repair and restoration of the historic 12th century church of St Margaret of Antioch, which lies in the heart of the village.

The last Festival in 2004 raised in the region of £20,000, which enabled the church to undertake vital repairs. Without funds from the Flower Festival they would have been unable to effect these repairs.

Formerly a sub-committee of the PCC, the Flower Festival now operates under the aegis of The Friends of St Margaret's. Chaired by Lord Hemingford, this recently formed independent charity is committed to the maintenance, repair, restoration and improvement of the fabric of the church.

Now in its fourth decade, the Flower Festival is scheduled for June 24 and 25. The church, decorated by members of the Flower Guild, will also hold various services, recitals and concerts throughout the two days. More than 20 gardens will be open to the public.

Summer teas, brass bands and a number of rural attractions complete the scene. Weather permitting, the 2006 Flower Festival will continue to provide vital funds for the church and meet the challenge set by English Heritage.

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SUE HENDERSON, Hemingford Abbots

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