Concert to raise money for Belper landmark struck by lightning

STRUCK BY LIGHTNING -- Belpers Christ Church, which dates back to 1850 and is an important part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.
STRUCK BY LIGHTNING -- Belpers Christ Church, which dates back to 1850 and is an important part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.

A concert of musical comedy has been organised to raise money for one of Belper’s landmarks after it was struck by lightning earlier this year.

The bell tower at Christ Church on Bridge Street was damaged so badly that it required expensive repairs. Now professional singer and performer Judith Hibbert, who moved to the town a year ago, has agreed to stage the Belper Belle concert, with all proceeds going to the restoration work.

“Getting the bell repaired is so important,” says Adrian Farmer, co-ordinator for the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, which includes Belper. “She says one of the things she loves about living on Long Row is the mournful bell of Christ Church ringing out, so she really missed it when it was damaged.

“She has such an incredible voice, so it’s going to be a great event. I’m really hoping that her offer to do this concert will make a difference.”

The Catholic church dates back to 1850 when it was built by philanthropist George Henry Strutt for the workers at the mill he owned.

Judith, who is married to well-known horse-racing commentator Malcolm Tomlinson, has worked extensively in TV, theatre, musicals, cabaret and pantomime during an illustrious career.

The concert, which takes place at the church on Friday, September 23 (7.30 pm to 9 pm), will feature her personal tribute to stars such as Julie Andrews, Joyce Grenfell, Victoria Wood and even Gracie Fields, who once performed in Belper. Tickets cost £7, which includes refreshments.