A CHURCH is celebrating the best Christmas present ever after reaching a massive fundraising target for much-needed restoration works.
Holy Trinity Church, in Seaton Carew, is now looking forward to a busy 2014 after securing £190,000 for urgent repairs.
The church, which dates back to 1831, launched its On a Wing and a Prayer campaign after the stonework started crumbling from being exposed to the elements for generations.
Now after more than two years of appealing to grant organisations and countless fundraising activities by parishioners, they have reached their target.
Appeal co-ordinator Carol Cliffe said: “We appealed like we’d never done before and filled out a multitude of forms.
“Eventually, one by one, the pieces started to fall into place.
“The final few grants and pledges came in and added up to exactly the amount we needed.”
The appeal team originally set out to raise £150,000 to improve the church one wing at a time and also repair the roof.
But that rose to £190,000 after the building was examined and the quotes came in.
Carol added: “It then felt like a mammoth task. I know I wasn’t the only one feeling rather desperate about how to raise the amount and we suspected we would have to try to borrow the shortfall.”
The appeal received a major boost last year when the Heritage Lottery Fund agreed to give the project £56,000 from a pot for urgent repairs to historic places of worship.
But it was on condition that the church was able to raise the rest of the money.
Other generous grants came in from church trusts and Durham Diocese.
Parishioners also did their bit holding balls, concerts, fairs and church member Julie Cordiner wrote a book about the history of Seaton Carew and Holy Trinity.
But Carol said the fundraising will continue until the work is finished in case any more unexpected expenses crop up.
Project leaders are currently having to find another supplier of the stone which has delayed the start of the work. It is now hoped to start in February.
Carol added: “We hope however that all of the work will be completed well before our next church birthday so we can use the birthday weekend in September as a time of thanksgiving and celebration.”