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Classical singers lend support to church’s £3 million fundraising appeal

PUBLISHED: 17:00 12 December 2018

Aled Jones and Russell Watson trying out bellringing at St Anne's Church in Limehouse. Picture: John Phillips/Getty

Aled Jones and Russell Watson trying out bellringing at St Anne's Church in Limehouse. Picture: John Phillips/Getty

John Phillips/Getty

Aled Jones and Russell Watson have given their support to a Limehouse church’s £3 million refurbishment bid.

Aled Jones and Russell Watson at St Anne's Church, Limehouse. Picture: Sophie MortonAled Jones and Russell Watson at St Anne's Church, Limehouse. Picture: Sophie Morton

The classical singers visited St Anne’s Church, on Commercial Road, which is in need of extensive repair to its water-damaged walls.

The church also wants to install a lift to make it fully accessible to visitors, which will cost around £650,000 due to the removal and reburial required for some of the bodies in the crypt.

Aled, who rose to fame after performing Walking in the Air as a teenage chorister, said: “There’s no better time to launch this than Christmas.

“It’s a church in need of help. It’s not just about people coming here for a church service.

Aled Jones and Russell Watson with Revd Richard Bray. Picture: Sophie MortonAled Jones and Russell Watson with Revd Richard Bray. Picture: Sophie Morton

“It’s used for concerts, as a place for the community.”

Russell added: “It’s a massive project.

“It’s quite an impressive building, quite imposing from the outside. But inside it’s really warm and friendly.”

Praising the church’s acoustics, he joked: “It would be a great place to record in.”

The pair, who have recently released their album In Harmony together, listened to Reception pupils from Seven Mills Primary School, on the Isle of Dogs, perform the Christmas carol Little Donkey.

They also watched the church’s bellringers rehearse before having a go at pulling the ropes themselves - proving it really is harder than it looks.

Revd Richard Bray, rector at St Anne’s, said that he hoped that all the work could be completed by the church’s 300th anniversary, in 2030.

He said: “The building’s had 40 years of refurbishment already, but it still needs more.

“It’s a big church, the original plans stated 1,200 people but we can’t have that many people in there now for safety regulations.

“We want it to be the biggest community space in the East End.”

Revd Bray said that the church would be putting on a series of events to help raise the money, as well as apply for grant funding.

“To have a couple of nationally, or internationally, famous names backing our appeal is great,” he added.

To donate towards the St Anne’s refurbishment appeal, visit mydonate.bt.com/charities/careforstannes

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