THE quick-witted actions of two young artists sketching in the
Suffolk countryside have saved a church from fire.
William Bacon and George Farrow-Hawkins were drawing in the
churchyard of St Andrew's, Westhall, on Tuesday of last week, when
they noticed smoke emerging from the church. While Mr
Farrow-Hawkins ran to alert the emergency services, Mr Bacon used a
watering can to put out the blaze.
"We ran in at the same time, and could see the fire quite
clearly," Mr Farrow-Hawkins said on Tuesday. "We pulled down the
curtain and used a can used for watering flowers to put it
The Rector of the Hundred River Benefice, a group of nine
churches including St Andrew's, Canon Paul Nelson, said on Tuesday
that "without that quick thinking and courage and intelligence on
their part, the building could have been badly damaged and possibly
The damage to a screen separating the body of the church from
the vestry was "annoying, but slight". The cause of the fire is now
known. A woman and a teenager have given an explanation to the
police, who say that the matter will be dealt with "in due
Canon Nelson and parishoners had an opportunity to thank the two
young men, who are both embarking on an Art Foundation course, at a
charity auction held in the village hall on Sunday. The Westhall
Secret Postcard auction raised more than £5000 for the church and
East Anglia Children's Hospices, after celebrities responded to
appeals to contribute.
Karen Kluiters, who organised the event, managed to persuade
famous people including the Prime Minister, the artist Maggi
Hambling, and the model Twiggy to contribute works to the
collection of 173 lots, all sold anonymously, with the creator
revealed only after purchase. "It seemed to take on a life of its
own," Mrs Kluiters said on Tuesday.
Both Mr Bacon and Mr Farrow-Hawkins contributed pictures to the
auction having learnt about it after the fire. After presenting
their works on Sunday night, they were applauded by the crowd. Both
pictures went on to sell for £90, which was more than the £50
secured for Mr Cameron's contribution.