A clergyman, a hack, a loo and a centurion

PUBLISHED: 11:02 26 September 2006 | UPDATED: 19:49 01 June 2010

The Rev Colin Hurst, with John Elworthy, Harriet Cranmer and Jane Melloy

The Rev Colin Hurst, with John Elworthy, Harriet Cranmer and Jane Melloy

VILLAGERS puzzling over the connection between a clergyman, a new toilet block, a journalist and a 100 year-old parishioner got their answer on Sunday evening. As parishioners flocked to the 12th century parish church in Tydd St Giles for a harvest Songs

VILLAGERS puzzling over the connection between a clergyman, a new toilet block, a journalist and a 100 year-old parishioner got their answer on Sunday evening.

As parishioners flocked to the 12th century parish church in Tydd St Giles for a harvest 'Songs of Praise', the connections were revealed.

The Rev Colin Hurst was on hand to officially bless the completion of a £52,000 improvement project to the church - which includes an internal WC with baby change facilities, and a new boiler.

The journalist was John Elworthy, news editor of the Wisbech Standard, there to officially perform the opening ceremony on behalf of the paper's columnist Samuel Brakespeare.

And the 100 year-old was Harriet Valentine Cranmer, the village's oldest resident and regular worshipper at the church, who cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony.

Brakespeare's namesake was parish priest at Tydd more than 800 years ago and he went on to become the only English Pope, Adrian IV.

Jane Melloy, who helped with the fund raising, said she hoped a modern day Brakespeare would help spread the word about the thriving parish- and its notable achievement in raising so much money.

Mr Elworthy joked that having spent a lot of time involved in the Standard's campaign to preserve public conveniences throughout Fenland, it was refreshing to visit a village where a new facility had been built.

Charitable trusts and some lottery funding combined with "a massive fund raising campaign locally" to fund the improvements, said Mrs Melloy.

The dedication of the new toilets was part of a three day flower and harvest festival celebration in the village that culminated on Sunday night with an auction of harvest produce at the Crown and Mitre.

All the flowers for the festival were sponsored or donated by local businesses, community groups or individuals.

Special events included a flower arranging demonstration by John Richmond and a visit by Richard Robbs of Granny's Cupboard Antiques of Wisbech who staged a Victorian evening.

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