Pizza purchases to help pay for historic restoration at UK church

June 19, 2003

KIDDERMINSTER, UK -- Money from the sale of special fundraising pizzas will help restore the bells of St Mary and All Saints Parish Church in Kidderminster, according to a report in the Express & Star.

A grant of £3,000 ($5,005 U.S.) from the Veneziana Fund has been awarded to St Mary's Society of Change Ringers' appeal to raise money to replace 12 bells in the church, which dates back to the 15th Century.

The Veneziana Fund hands out cash raised by sales of the special Veneziana Pizza in PizzaExpress restaurants across the UK.

For each special pizza eaten, 25 pence (42 cents U.S.) is given to the charity, with half going toward the Venice in Peril fund and half toward helping restore and maintain British buildings which are more than 250 years old.

The idea for the Pizza Veneziana came about more than 20 years ago as a novel way of raising money to help victims of disastrous flooding in Venice. To date more than £1 million ($1.6 million U.S.) has been raised.

The last major overhaul of the St Mary and All Saints bells took place in 1935, according to the Express & Star. The first bells are thought to have been installed at St Mary and All Saints Parish Church in 1450, although the earliest recorded reference to the bells dates from 1524, during the reign of Henry VIII.

The bells have rung out to mark memorable historical events, including Queen Victoria's death in 1901 and the outbreak of World War One in 1914.

The restoration project will cost about £135,000 ($225,257 U.S.) A further element of the restoration work will be to improve public access to the church tower by installing a spiral staircase.

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