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Reluctant hero's award

PUBLISHED: 10:37 29 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:47 03 July 2010

He is one of the thousands of unsung heroes across the region who regularly give up their time to help the community and do not ask for praise or recognition in return.

He is one of the thousands of unsung heroes across the region who regularly give up their time to help the community and do not ask for praise or recognition in return.

But now a slightly embarrassed churchwarden faces the limelight for his role in preserving and promoting one of Norfolk's finest village churches.

For the last seven years, Ken Grapes has been one of the two churchwardens at St Catherine Church at Ludham, near Yarmouth.

Because of his work, Mr Grapes is the only person in Norfolk to have been nominated for the Country Life magazine's Unsung Heroes of the Rural Church awards to be held in Lambeth Palace on December 4.

The awards will see Mr Grapes go up against 11 other churchwardens, organists, fundraisers and choristers across the country who have

been recognised for their voluntary work at Church of England

churches.

In the last few years, Mr Grapes has helped St Catherine Church become a focal point for an open churches scheme to encourage visitors and school visits.

He has also been instrumental in raising money for a major restoration of the church which dates back to the 14th century.

Mr Grapes, a retired Lt Col, said: “I feel very embarrassed to have been nominated because I am just an ordinary guy who just does things to help the village and church because I like to.

“I only do what thousands of other people do every day. Ludham is a great place to live and has a wonderful community spirit.”

Mr Grapes said his nomination was also in recognition of the work of Ludham's other churchwarden Alex Cordiner and church volunteers.

He was nominated by Jennie Hawks, of the Diocese of Norwich's open churches project.

Mrs Hawks said: “I think Ken is the perfect example of a churchwarden. He gets on with things without making a fuss and he is very proactive in fundraising and organising events.”

More than 100 people had originally been put forward to the Unsung hero awards.

Launching the competition earlier this year, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams praised unsung heroes by saying: “They are organising community celebrations and simple local services like mothers and toddler groups or drop-in centres.

“But they are increasingly stepping into the gaps that have opened up in rural society in the last 10 years or so.”


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