A village church has received a boost to its fundraising appeal that is set to restore the building and make it suitable for the 21st century and beyond.

Appleshaw Church received £5,000 as one of the finalists in the National Churches Trust’s Friends’ Vote, where it lost out to St Machar’s Cathedral in Aberdeen.

In addition to £10,000 received in a grant last year from the trust, this has covered a significant chunk of Appleshaw’s £180,000 appeal. However, the church is still looking to raise over £75,000 I n order to complete all the planned works.

The appeal leader, Letitia Adams, says the church building is at the heart of the village. “We not only need to carry out urgent repairs,” she said, “but are also working on making the church more accessible and available for a broader range of uses with the community.”

The appeal was launched back in October 2018 in a reception held at the church, hosted by the Bishop of Basingstoke David Williams. The work is split into three phases, which between them seek to address over half a century’s worth of repairs, as well as modernisation work.

The first phase is the least expensive, seeking £45,000 to refurbish the vestry and conduct urgent repairs on the church, as well as pay planning fees for future phases. This work is already underway, with the installation of a toilet and a catering unit nearing completion.

The second phase is the most expensive at £80,000. This money will pay for repairs to the church tower, which is said to be “in a particularly poor state,” as well as work on the roof and a number of internal and external renovations.

The final phase, costing £55,000, will seek to allow the church to be used for a range of purposes, including the removal of pews in the north transept and the modernisation of lighting and heating. The organ will also be renovated to provide musical accompaniment for many years to come.

One of those involved with the church appeal is Bruce Parker, a former BBC presenter who was the first host of the television series Antiques Roadshow. An Appleshaw resident himself, he told the Advertiser: “Our church is the beating heart of the village and I suppose it’s a recognition of that which has encouraged people to be so generous in their support even in these difficult circumstances. What we still need now though, I suppose, is a fairy godmother with deep pockets to turn up and complete the appeal.”

Anyone wanting to help contribute to the appeal should head to https://www.appleshawchurch.com/ to learn more and donate.