By Richard Harding

The bells are set to ring again at a South Hams church with restoration work underway.

The Venus Company which runs beach cafes including Bigbury-on-Sea and East Portlemouth has been making regular donations over the last two years to ‘The Tower & Bells Restoration Project’ at the magnificent and historic church of St Lawrence which is partly 14th- and partly rebuilt in 1872 by J. D. Sedding.

Michael Smith – MD The Venus Company says: “Sustainability is part of our DNA, and we love the beach as a habitat, so taking care of it and the surrounding area is integral to our business philosophy.”

“St Lawrence Church is an important part of the local community.

“With this in mind, we felt it was important to get actively involved by donating funds to help support this wonderful initiative.”

Jill Gubbins, fundraiser, says: ”On behalf of the PCC of St Lawrence Church, may I tender our deep gratitude to the Venus team for the fantastic support given to the Tower & Bells Restoration project over the last two years – the total donated is a wonderful £3,643.48, which is very much appreciated by all involved in getting this long outstanding work underway.”

She explains: “The tower had been repointed at some point with cement mortar which cracks and lets the rain ingress.

“This led to the deterioration of the steel frames and wooden structures supporting the six bells, making them unsafe to ring over the last 20 years.

“The tower joints have now been repointed with the more appropriate lime mortar specified for heritage buildings, which allows the joints to ‘breathe’ and accommodate movement.

“The cockerel has been firmly replaced on the spire top, and new floors, ceilings, and oak door have been installed in the tower.”

She comments further: “The bells, which are in reasonable condition, have been taken out to a Dorset firm for work mostly on the supporting structures that allow the bells to ring.

“We now await a firm date for the bells’ return, with a team of local volunteers eager to reinstall them in the belfry. Other keen volunteers are training to bell ring with the help of Modbury and Kingston churches.”

Jill concludes: “May Venus Company continue to thrive in our lovely part of England!

“St Lawrence looks forward to inviting Michael, Louisa, Lee, and the Venus team at Bigbury to the rededication of the bells in due course.

“It’s thanks to the great support such as Venus Company has offered that the parish can take pride in its Grade 2* listed church again, the tower of which now stands out well on the skyline, and which can allow bells to ring out in May for the new monarch!”