Bell tower fundraising project making good progress
A project to raise £35,000 and repair the bell tower at Fakenham Junior School is on course to meet its target, after being launched four months ago.
For more than 100 years, the bell has called children to their lessons and summoned them back to their classrooms after lunch.
But its distinctive tower is falling into disrepair and may have to be taken down unless the money can be raised for remedial work.
Staff, governors and friends of the school launched a Get Well Bell campaign to fix the structure last September.
Karen Rodgers, business manager at the 297-pupil school, said: “We are pleased with the progress made so far.
“We’ve raised £5,176 over the Christmas period from various events.
“We held a big raffle and there was a themed tree at Fakenham’s Christmas Tree Festival. And the Super Singers went carol singing.
“We have also had many private donations which we are very grateful for. This has totalled about £600, and the private donations have been made up of gifts of everything from £5 to £250.
“We would like to raise the whole total of £35,000 by September this year. The bell tower will then have to be removed and rebuilt.
“We have put a bid in to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £10,000. We will also be raising money with the Fakenham classic car club in the Market Place, and Fakenham Market Tolls has pledged £3000.
“We have a lot of events coming up including a bingo evening on February 24 at the junior school and an Easter extravaganza.
“Children have made wooden bells to decorate, which we will put up in school. If there’s anyone in town would like to sponsor one of the bells for £50, that would be great. We will also be holding a big public event, a hoedown, in June.”
The school is also running a project with the town’s history society on the story of the bell.
It has traditionally been rung by one of the pupils at the school, on Queens Road, for 10 minutes between 8.40 and 8.50am, and five between 1.30 and 1.35pm.
Ms Rodgers added: “There have been a few breaks. The bell has broken on a few occasions when the children have pulled the rope off.
“But there must be so many people with stories about the bell. We’ve got a lot of children whose parents or their grandparents came here.”
A letter announcing the campaign to parents said: “Our school bell has called children to school for more than 100 years.
“You may have rung it yourself if you were a pupil here. The distinctive bell tower is one of the few remaining in the UK and it’s even featured on our school logo.
“For many people, it’s one of the things that make Fakenham such a special community.”
“It’s going to be a challenge and we need all the help we can get,” adds the letter to parents. “If you can give time, skills and ides, we’d love to hear from you.”
Do you have a story about ringing the bell, or can you help the fundraising campaign? Call the school on 01328 862188.