Arsonists torch Norwich church hall
More than 20 community groups are counting the cost of an arson attack which destroyed a popular church hall in Norwich.
Arsonists torched the hall at St Thomas Church in Earlham Road during the early hours of Saturday morning (May 19). Fire experts believe the fire was started after a break-in during and police are also investigating.
More than 20 firefighters tackled the blaze after the alarm was raised by the landlord of the neighbouring Mitre pub at around 12.30am.
The fire destroyed toys and other equipment used by 20 community groups from dance classes to luncheon clubs.
Karl Tutt, who runs the popular St Thomas toddler group, said it had lost all its equipment.
The group, which meets on Wednesdays, is in now in need of a new home and equipment while the rebuilding work takes place.
“It's destroyed the place,” he said. “We lost everything that the toddler group owns, toys and safety equipment, coffee facilities, everything. We really need to make an appeal for a temporary home until the hall can be refurbished.”
Rev Philip Young, who only took up post on Thursday, said he hoped the fire would bring the community closer together.
Church services are continuing as normal and Rev Young said he had been overwhelmed by the support shown.
“People are calling it a baptism if fire, which is a fairly good description,” he said. “The community has been great. St Peters Methodist Church have said we can meet there, and the Guides have also offered us their place in Jessop Road. There is a lot of good will. People are sad rather than angry, they can't really understand why anybody should do it.”
He said: “I think it is just people who have got nothing better to do and I would like to see them channel their energies into something more creative.
“I pray that out of destruction will come a new opportunity for the community.
“The church was bombed during the war and as a result of that it now has a very nice interior and so this is another chapter in its history.
“I see this as an opportunity to bring the church hall right up to date in the 21st century.”
Rev Young said he wanted to start an appeal for a replacement once insurers had assessed the damage.
The kitchen area and storage facilities containing toys and other equipment used by community groups had been completely destroyed
“We are determined that what's going to replace it is going to be really good for the community, may be even better,” he added. “The main hall is very badly smoke damaged, while it got hold in the single storey building at the back. The fridge, which is new, is a write off.”
Anyone willing to help the toddler group should contact Karl Tutt on 01603 470507 or email email@example.com
Story and picture courtesy of www.edp24.co.uk
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