Rising from the ashes

PUBLISHED: 11:47 04 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:06 06 May 2010

At the official opening

At the official opening

A CHURCH gutted by fire last year was officially reopened last weekend. St Thomas of Canterbury church in Bedford Road, Letchworth GC, was severely damaged in December. The windows, altar and pews were destroyed as were preparations for the forthcoming fe

A CHURCH gutted by fire last year was officially reopened last weekend.

St Thomas of Canterbury church in Bedford Road, Letchworth GC, was severely damaged in December.

The windows, altar and pews were destroyed as were preparations for the forthcoming festive season.

After a period of intense rebuilding, including rewiring, plastering and decorating, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Christopher Herbert, rededicated the church on Sunday.

Barry Pate, vicar of St Thomas, described the rededication service as a "happy and informal time".

"The place was full to overflowing. The cubs were there, the Wilbury School choir was there.

"The theme for the service was 'give thanks with a grateful heart'," he said.

Guests including Stuart Kenny, director general of Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, and Linda Needham, chairman of North Herts District Council, also enjoyed a dance performance by children from Tom's Thursday Club. After the fire, services continued at the church as it is a dual purpose building, the first in the Anglican diocese of St Albans. It is still not known what caused the blaze.

A removable screen separates the church from a hall at the rear.

The screen protected the hall from the blaze and services were held there until the repairs were completed.

Although the church part of the building is now in use again, its windows, which were cracked by the fire, have not yet been repaired.

They will eventually be replaced with double glazing, and around £17,500 is needed to fund the project.

The church will be holding a number of future events to try to reach this target.


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