A PROJECT to knit a tapestry of a thousand years of Rochford history has received a £10,000 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The Knitting Our Heritage Project will see the community pull together to create up to 12 tapestry panels from across the 14 parishes of Rochford.

Artists, historians and those skilled in textiles are invited to join in the project, which is being sponsored by the Elim Estuary Church Group.

Geoff Durham, church member and chairman of the Rochford Town Team, said: “My inspiration for the project came from a vision I had of the tapestries. God told me I had a job to do.

“The tapestries will showcase our area’s history, going back to the battle of Ashingdon, and funding will go to tapestry materials, frames to conserve each panel, a website to explain each panel, panel carrying cases, and display stands.

“This is something I’m really passionate about, we want to get at least 100 locals involved. This is only the beginning.”

Olly Tait, from Rayleigh, is one of the artists who will be working on the tapestries. The 34-year-old said: “I saw a post on Facebook about the project and knew I wanted to take part. It’s such an interesting project which is integral to our local area, and it will mean that my work will be showcased for years to come.

“Although I’ve never done anything like this before, I’ve made my sketches which I’ve already started as intricately as I can.

“We’ve been working closely with historians to make sure everything is accurate.

“I can’t wait to see how it will turn out.”

The panels, which will in total be over ten metres long, will be exhibited as part of Rochford District’s Discover 2020 celebrations. Afterwards it will be available for groups to display.

Sarah Johnson, from Rochford, will be embroidering the panel designs.

The 61-year-old said: “It’s so exciting. We will be taking the artist designs and translating it onto the tapestry, as well as helping make kits for others to use.

“Primary schools including Ashingdon Primary Academy and Plumberow Primary Academy in Hockley are already on board. The kids will be making motifs to go at the top and the bottom of the tapestry.

“We’ll be paying tribute right up to the modern day, including the launch of the A127.

“It’s so important we don’t lose our heritage.”