Two weeks on, and work is starting in earnest.
This week you will see a small crane arriving to allow the construction company to remove all the loose debris from the top of the wall and gables. Once they have done this, they will be able to begin clearing the inside of the church, replacing the areas where the floor and joists have been burnt away with temporary flooring and erecting scaffolding to prevent the gables from collapsing.
The next stage of work will involve the removal by hand of the rubble inside the church, laying out pieces of particular interest (eg. bits of moulding and fragments of glass), and logging where they have been found. This will help us in the restoration phase in later months.
While this is going on, further scaffolding will be erected outside the church, holding up the gables and providing a frame for a temporary roof that will protect the ruins from the elements. I have asked the scaffolding engineer to design it so that we might be allowed limited and supervised access to the cremation area of the churchyard in the future, and hopefully this will be possible. Until then, the churchyard is still out of bounds.
The bells will be removed from their steel frame and taken away to be recast. The specialist has told us that the heat will have cracked all the bells – something to do with the make up of the metal, and the tin element burning off quicker than other elements. However, the hope is that new bells will be able to be made and they will ring again in due course.
This all sounds gloomy news, but these last two weeks have been far from that. We have received an overwhelming response from members of the community and further afield, sending gifts, best wishes and prayers, and offering practical help in many different ways.
So I, on behalf of the church, would like to say a huge and humble “Thank you” to everyone for your support and encouragement.
Easter Day is always a time of hope, and as people gathered for the service, we each were invited to place a flower in the cross, transforming it into what you see below. After the service it was taken to the churchyard, as a sign of our hope for the future, and as a help to those who are unable to place flowers on their loved-one’s graves at the moment. There it remains – death is not the end!
Services continue at the Community Hall at 10.00am.
There is still no forensic decision on the causes of the fire.
Please keep out of the churchyard – it is still unsafe to visit graves.