Norwich church vows to fight back after blaze

A Norwich church community has vowed to fight back after a fire devastated its historic hall in Earlham earlier this week causing thousands of pounds of damage after a suspected arson attack.

St Anne’s church hall, on the junction with The Avenues and Colman Road, was engulfed in a fire on Monday afternoon (February 17) in a blaze that wrecked the building and its contents.
The building had survived the Second World War and was even used as a temporary church after St Anne’s was bombed during the war.
But vicar of Earlham, the Rev Clare Dowding, has been heartened by support from the local community which has rallied around to offer help.
She told the Evening News: “It is heartbreaking because it is a building that is used and loved by people in the church, and also lots of people in the community who use it for groups and events.”
But she vowed to bounce back after receiving support from the congregation and local community.
“These sorts of things happening are terrible but they can be a really powerful way of demonstrating how communities work together,” Rev Dowding said. “One thing that has been really heartening is the community support. I have spoken to a number of people asking how they could help and I’ve had lots of emails, texts and tweets.”
The church hall was used by lots of community groups, including mothers and toddlers, and it is hoped that they can use the nearby church and scout hut instead for the moment.
Rev Dowding said that she thought the building would have to be rebuilt because of the scale of the damage.
Around 15 firefighters from three fire crews took about half an hour to get the fire under control on Monday.
Fire investigator Brian Walshe told Network Norfolk that it is too early to say if it is a hate crime, but it appeared to have been deliberately started, maybe by children: “It's devastating for the community who use the hall for all their activities," he said
Read more of this story on EveningNews24
Pictured above is St Anne’s Church hall the morning after the devastating fire. Picture by Helen Baldry.

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