ONE of Ribble Valley’s oldest churches could close unless at least £25,000 is raised this year.

The vicar of St Andrew’s Church in Slaidburn, the Rev George Darby, said it cost that amount to maintain the Grade One Listed building last year.

He said a similar figure is needed again this year or the church, which has been existence for almost 1,000 years, could be forced to shut.

In 2013, £3,000 in insurance payments were made, £5,000 paid out for minor building repairs and £3,000 for heating and lighting. A year ago the church’s 162-year-old organ was cleaned for the first time in more than 60 years, at a cost of around £7,000.

The organ, which was installed in 1870, was was used in the Great Exhibition in London of 1851. The present church was built in 1450, replacing the original Norman building.

The Rev Darby, who has been at the church for more than two years, said: “For nearly 1,000 years, St Andrew’s Church has been a place of worship at the centre of our village.

“Beyond worship it has been a significant place in the lives of villagers for many generations.

“The beautiful building sits at the edge of the village and its stone tower is a noted landmark from all directions. If you can help in anyway then please do so.

“If you should decide to do anything it will contribute to the upkeep of St Andrew’s but if we neglect our stewardship of the church we could lose it.”

The pews date from the 17th and 18th centuries. There is a rood screen, from the 1630s and another screen in the south aisle.