An appeal for donations to repair a village church spire has reached new heights – hitting half its £60,000 target in only three months.
Officials at All Saints Church in Cleadon say they are thrilled by the speedy response to their SOS - Save Our Spire – initiative.
Around half the current total has been donated by parishioners and non-churchgoers, equally keen to see the towering landmark’s rain damage repaired.
The remainder has been pledged from grant funding, which has taken the appeal just past the £30,000 mark.
Organisers believe they are on course to hit their target by the end of June, with four months of renovation work planned to start on July 1.
Their fundraising success comes a little over a week since a dramatic weekend for the church’s supporters.
On the evening of Saturday, March 31, around 80 people attended a ceilidh in the church’s Old Schoolroom, raising almost £600 for the SOS appeal.
Later that day, the Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Paul Butler, attended to plant a rowan tree to mark the church’s 150th anniversary.
Keith Higgin, 81, chair of the church’s finance and property group, said: “The appeal began at the end of last year but didn’t really get going until well into January.
“We’ve not done so badly at all and are very grateful for all the support we have received.
“Around half of the money pledged so far has come from grants, with the remainder from the congregation and people who see the spire as being as being important.
“Some of the money has come from people who don’t come to church other than on special occasions but recognise it as a part of village life.
“Work was done on the bell tower about twenty years ago but more and hopefully longer lasting work is now required.
“We hope to have all the money raised by the last day of June so the can start on July 1, that is our aim.”
He added: “It was quite a weekend, with the celebration, the car crash and the appeal reaching the half way mark.”
The Grade II listed bell tower has suffered water erosion and weathering in recent years and requires a significant overhaul, including metal strengthening.
To donate to the fund, visit www.justgiving.com/allsaintschurch-cleadon or send a cheque, c/o The Treasure and paid to All Saints Church.