REPAIRS totalling almost £300,000 at a Cliviger church are nearing completion.

Work to eradicate dry rot from St John the Divine, in Burnley Road, Holme Chapel, is due to be completed by the end of November.

Parishioners have raised around £280,000 to tackle the problem.

The church’s vicar, the Rev Keith Henshall, said his congregation was looking forward to its first Christmas in the church since 2010.

Widespread problems were found in the Victorian eastern side of the church during emergency work in 2011.

Mr Henshall said: “The final stage of the refurbishment has begun and we’re hoping to get the keys back at the end of November.

“The fundraising and the way the local community has rallied round has been fantastic.

“The building, which is Grade Two listed, is in two parts; the main part is Georgian, built in the 1790s, while the Victorian extension came along a century later.

“We had already raised £130,000 to sort out the emergency repairs when we discovered further dry rot.

“We’ve collected about £150,000 on top of that so it’s well over a quarter of a million pounds-worth of work.”

Since the damage was discovered in May 2011, church services have been held in the church house at the nearby St John’s CE Primary School, with some events at St John the Evangelist, Worsthorne, Cliviger’s sister church.

Mr Henshall said: “English Heritage gave us a significant proportion of funding but that had to be matched by ourselves.

“That has been down to a lot of hard work from our members and we are so grateful to friends far and wide who have sent donations. The primary school has held non-uniform days, we’ve had sponsored walks, the annual duck race and some very kind interest free loans, as well as the Scarlett Stride.”

The Scarlett Stride is a 12-mile walk held annually by villagers, named after the Crimean War hero, General Sir James Yorke Scarlett, who is buried at St John’s.