200 balloons launched in bid to save St Albans village church

PUBLISHED: 18:00 08 October 2017

Balloon release in St Leonard's Church. Picture: Sophie Lechner King

Balloon release in St Leonard's Church. Picture: Sophie Lechner King

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Two hundred balloons were sent soaring upwards in a village's bid to try and save their church from closure.

Balloon release in St Leonard's Church. Picture: Mark Worsey.Balloon release in St Leonard's Church. Picture: Mark Worsey.

The congregation at St Leonard’s church in Flamstead wrote messages of support, tied them to balloons, and released them inside the building to raise funds for vital maintenance.

It is trying to collect £200,000 to go alongside a Heritage Lottery Fund bid - the cash would repair damp and deathwatch beetle infected roof timbers.

The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Churches Trust and University College Oxford have both pledged funds towards the restoration work.

Special guests at the release included Dacorum mayor and mayoress Cllr David Collins and Cllr Elaine Collins, Historic England heritage at risk surveyor Trudi Hughes, and fundraising coordinator Andrew Lambourne.

Balloon release in St Leonard's Church. Picture: Andrew Lambourne.Balloon release in St Leonard's Church. Picture: Andrew Lambourne.

Andrew said: “The atmosphere was fantastic – a really positive community spirit which underlines one simple truth, Flamstead Loves St Leonard’s. We have a great hill to climb in raising £200,000 in matched funding to accompany a bid to Heritage Lottery, and we’re going to need all the help we can get from other local communities as well.”

He noted that before work can begin, all the wall paintings must be conserved.

Adding: “Ideas for new activities to enable people to learn more about its medieval history include historic re-enactments, and projecting the wall paintings as they would have looked. The team will also be developing links with local schools so that the history of this fascinating 12th century building can be passed on.”

Vicar of St Leonard’s, Tom Sander, said “We love welcoming visitors to the church, not just to the services but also to explore its history and heritage.”

Balloon release in St Leonard's Church. Picture: Sophie Lechner King.Balloon release in St Leonard's Church. Picture: Sophie Lechner King.

He encouraged everyone to join in for the next event - the Winter Flower Festival from November 24 to 26.

To find out more about St Leonard’s funding bid, click here.

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