Rescue plan on the menu

A vicar is offering to cook a slap-up Sunday lunch for two - to help stop her leaning church from toppling into a river.

Janet Brierley with husband Richard

A vicar is offering to cook a slap-up Sunday lunch for two - to help stop her leaning church from toppling into a river.

The Rev Janet Brierley will be throwing open the doors to Warkworth Vicarage as part of a fundraising auction to safeguard St Lawrence's ancient north wall.

The magnificent structure has been a place of worship since 737AD, and the Norman church, built in 1120, retains some original Saxon architecture.

But time is taking its toll, and the wall is starting to bulge out towards the River Coquet.

The bell tower, which also noticeably leans several degrees from the perpendicular, has already been targeted by the Restoration Appeal Fund, launched in 2000.

Phase 1 was completed in early 2004, but the next stage includes carrying out detailed investigations of the north wall to measure its movement and decide on what remedial action needs to be taken.

"It won't just be me doing the cooking," Mrs Brierley said yesterday. "My husband Richard will be making his speciality Yorkshire puddings.

"Whoever wins can be assured of a good old-fashioned home-cooked roast."

As well as Sunday lunch at The Vicarage, auction lots include bed and breakfast for a week in France, a Victorian Tea Service, dinner at Alnwick Castle's Sanctuary restaurant, wine, art, electrical goods and even a ride on a combine harvester.

Appeal fund chairman Andy Webber said: "Local businesses and residents are still coming forward with goods and services for auction, so we are looking forward to raising a lot of money for the fund.

"The auction is just one of a number of fund-raising events to be held this year and we are most grateful to those who have contributed so far". The Grand Charity Auction takes place in the Memorial Hall, in Castle Street, Warkworth, on Friday, March 23, at 7.30pm.

Items for auction can be viewed at the hall from 2pm to 4pm and from 6.30pm to 7.30pm on the day of the event.

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