Building of new church starts

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WORK on a new church for Benwick is set to officially get under-way this weekend when the Bishop of Ely performs a turf cutting ceremony.

Saturday’s (November 12) event is the culmination of nearly 10 years of hard fundraising by the Friends of Benwick Church and will provide the village with a purpose-built place of worship.

Benwick has been without a dedicated place of worship since 2005 when the Wesleyan Chapel in High Street followed the fate of both the Baptist Chapel and St Mary’s Church and closed for safety reasons.

All three buildings had suffered subsidence, the Baptist Chapel was the first to go, closing its doors in the 1960s, St Mary’s held its last service in 1980 and was demolished five years later.

Since then worshippers have had to make do holding services in the meeting room of the Village Hall.

Services have also had to be curtailed to just twice a month in recent times.

Saturday’s turf cutting is part of a celebration of the starting of the project, which is an extension to the Village Hall, and also includes a coffee morning. Everyone is welcome to attend from 10am to 11.30am.

John Hoffman, Chairman of the Friends of Benwick Church, said the building work, which is set to take around seven months to complete is the culmination of a lot of hard work. A total of £100,000 has been raised by villagers towards the cost of the project over the past eight to 10 years through an array of events including quizzes and fun days.

A match-funding grant from Fenland District Council has helped cover the total cost of the extension of £200,000.

The work will also include improvements to the hall itself including a new roof and installation of solar panels.

Mr Hoffman said: “The new extension will have a more religious feel to it and will definitely be more comfortable than what we have been used to. It will also be available as a community facility and could be used for things such as a cinema.”