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New future for Ipswich Church

Historic Ipswich Church, St Mary At Quay, is taking its first steps towards a new future with the launch of a Walking Challenge to raise funds to transform the 14th century building into a community Wellbeing Heritage Centre. The two charities collaborating on the project, The Churches Conservation Trust and Suffolk Mind, are calling for the people of Ipswich to walk their way towards fitness for the project, raising sponsorship by taking 10,000 steps a day every day for the next month.

The month-long Walking Challenge, which starts today, will culminate in early July with a treasure hunt for children and spectacular fire-walk taking place near the church at Ipswich Quay. It is just part of a two-month long community fundraising drive for St Mary at Quay which aims to raise 30,000 towards the target sum of 142,000 required to take the 4.7 million project forward. During this time the currently empty church will be transformed into a buzzing hive of activity with family fun days, exhibitions and other community events. All participants signing up for the Walking Challenge by emailingSMAQ@suffolkmind.org.uk or calling 020 7213 0423 to register will receive a free pedometer to help them count their daily steps, along with advice and tips on getting started.

The Wellbeing Heritage Centre is a groundbreaking collaboration between mental health charity, Suffolk Mind, and St Mary at Quays owner, The Churches Conservation Trust that will bring an ancient building back into regular use and preserve it for the long term benefit of everyone in the community. While telling the fascinating story of the Ipswich Waterfront, it will also act as an oasis of tranquillity in a busy town, providing a calm environment where visitors can take time out and access services such as counselling, training and other community activities.

Peter Aiers, regional director of The Churches Conservation Trust, concluded: St Mary at Quay is a beautiful building thats been a place of sanctuary and tranquillity since it was built at the height of Ipswichs wealth back in the 14th century. With this project we will give it new purpose, providing an ancient building with a new and self-sustaining lease of life so that it once again is of service to the local community.
By starting off fundraising efforts with The Walking Challenge, both charities hope to show how the Heritage Wellness Centre will combine local history with activities which emphasise mental and physical wellbeing while encouraging greater community participation.

Suffolk Minds business development director, Sue Gray, explained: Our mental and physical health are closely linked. Taking gentle exercise and setting yourself realistic goals – like taking the recommended 10,000 steps a day – are simple actions we can all take that will help us feel better about ourselves and more connected to the people around us. We hope as many people as possible will be able to get involved and help us achieve the goal of bringing this unique resource to Ipswich.

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