An interview with... Peter Schmidt-Hansen
In the first of an occasional series, we ask Peter Schmidt-Hansen what St Peter’s means to him and why he became involved in our fundraising project.
What does St Peter’s mean to you?
I’m not religious but I very much appreciate churches for a number of reasons.
Firstlly, they are often beautiful and sometimes magnificent buildings. St Peter’s is one such building and to think that its tower was built about 1000 years ago – imagine the effort and labour that went into it – it’s amazing to think it’s still here!
Secondly, they reflect the history of a place and its people. St Peter’s has been here for 1000 years and during that time thousands of people have passed through. Those people reflect life as we experience it – joy, sadness, friendship, community, solitude, hope, peace, celebration.
Thirdly, churches have a surprising range of wildlife-friendly features. Hedges, grass, flowers, trees and the buildings themselves provide habitats for all sorts of creatures – and so it is with St Peter’s. Rooks crowd the skies above, frogs hop hopefully around the headstones, seven species of bat roost in the roof and eaves, butterflies flutter through the hedgerows and owls scout the ground for mice and shrews.
Why did you become involved in the fund-raising project?
I’m lucky to live near St Peter’s and every morning when I draw our curtains I see the church tower and I can start looking forward to the day ahead – I’m very much a lark rather than an owl!
Since moving to Forncett in 2015 we have felt welcome and really sensed the community spirit that thrives here. And now that the church is under threat from the elements it feels like a travesty to let the church decay any further when it has stood for so long – we would be letting down all the people who used the church over the past 1000 years. But it’s not just about preserving the past, it’s about building the future. One of the plans is to have a dementia café, a subject close to my heart as my mother suffers from dementia. Making the church a community hub is just what is needed for many who live increasingly fragmented lives.
How are you involved in Friends of St Peter’s?
I’m helping on the Publicity Subcommittee. We meet about once a month and it’s a great chance to see people – even though it’s by Zoom at the moment! It’s a very enjoyable challenge because we have to come up with creative ideas to reach what is a wide audience with many different ages, backgrounds and interests.
I also did the Norfolk Churches Trust bike ride last September where half the money I raised goes to St Peter’s – this was very enjoyable as I like nothing more than pootling around the Norfolk Lanes on my bike!
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