23 July 2024

Community flocks to St Nicholas church clock fundraiser

by Rebecca Hannant

Members of the Withernsea community came together to sing patriotic hymns and anthems at a first-of-its-kind event at St Nicholas Church.

On Saturday, June 29, more than 65 Withernsea residents were packed into the church for the Prosecco, Proms and Pastries event organised by Friends of St Nicholas Church member Flo Fogg-Stevens and supported by the rest of the team. It is believed that the event hosted the largest number of visitors to the church at any one time, for the first time in decades.

Visitors included Withernsea mayor Ian Blackburn and his wife Jacqui, deputy mayor Alex Camplin and town clerk Jayne Moxon. Representatives from Withernsea RNLI were present alongside supporters of the church.

During the first half, the crowd were welcomed by the Withernsea Ladies’ Choir, led by musical director Patrick Pearson, and they sang a selection of popular tunes from the likes of Bring Me Sunshine, and The Hills are Alive to It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.

This was followed by a short interval where attendees could either enjoy a glass of prosecco, a glass of non-alcoholic “mock Pimm’s”, or tea or coffee. This was served with a selection of pastries including cheese straws, sausage rolls, cinnamon buns, and jam and cream scones.

The second half saw the evening becoming more patriotic as more and more flags were waved, and the costumes got sillier. The crowd enjoyed more songs and hymns including You’ll Never Walk Alone, Land of Hope and Glory, Rule Britannia, Jerusalem, We’ll Meet Again and God Save the King, as well as a rendition of Rock Around the Clock.

Afterwards, Friends of St Nicholas Church members Darrin Stevens and Godfrey Holmes announced that an additional £4,500 had been given to the clock restoration appeal by a trust that did not wish to be named. This was met with a huge cheer and a round of applause.

The evening ended with a raffle of prizes donated by a number of local people.

Artist Wendy Crowther donated two limited- edition prints, one of which was sold for £50 to a Withernsea resident. Photography prints were also supplied by Jason Lee, Darrin Stevens and the town’s Royal British Legion president, Darren England. Meanwhile, hampers filled with sweets and chocolates were donated by Dawn Wharam.

In total, the event raised an additional £1,200, and was hailed as a huge success. Organisers have already secured the date for next year’s event – Saturday, June 28, 2025, in line with Armed Forces Day.

Organiser Flo Fogg-Stevens said: “It went well. I am very pleased. It’s very emotional to see so many people come together from the community. One lady said she loved seeing us all work as a team. I think we had around 65 people not including the choir. It’s important because events like these are for the community. This was a pilot for the 80th anniversary of the Second World War next year.”

Darrin added: “The feedback received was that it was a well-organised evening by the Friends of St Nicholas team, the food in the Union Jack boxes was excellent, and having a choice of a glass of fizz or non-alcoholic Pimm’s, juice or hot beverages was extremely good value for money.”

Friends of St Nicholas Church member Peter Cook said: “It was beautiful and fantastic. Everyone was professional.”

The event was also well received by members of Withernsea Town Council who said they were fully supportive of the efforts to restore the clock. They are also keen to see the former disused church used as a community space for years to come.

Mayor Ian Blackburn said: “It was well organised – what a great team. It is the spirit of Withernsea. The town council fully supports the clock appeal.”

Withernsea town clerk Jayne Moxon added: “Congratulations to the team of dedicated volunteers at St Nicholas Church for a very enjoyable and successful Prosecco and Proms evening. It was a great evening, and we hope it will become an annual event.

“The church looked lovely with the union flags and bunting up, and the Withernsea Ladies’ Choir conducted by Patrick and supported by Paul on the piano were very entertaining.

“The church is an ideal venue for such events, and we hope there will be more events in there in the future, as it is an ideal space. All in all, it was a very enjoyable event raising funds for a great cause.

“With the recent fundraising efforts, it is hoped that there will now be enough funds to complete more of the works required before the clock is reinstated.”