WORSHIPPERS are facing a £70,000 repair bill after their church ceiling caved in.

The Rev Gill Dyer, vicar at St Nicholas’ Church in Sabden, said the close-knit community had been left in shock.

Rubble and dust cover the altar, nave, aisle and pews after a large section of plaster crashed to the floor.

It has left a 'gaping hole' in the ceiling that daylight can be seen though. The 160-year-old church in Stubbins Lane has been closed for safety reasons.

Rev Dyer said: “People are very upset and very disappointed because lots of work was done on the church about 10 years ago.

"It is a very iconic and well loved building in Sabden so it has affected a lot of people.

“We are holding services in the church hall at the moment which is not ideal.”

Dozens of events including two weddings have had to be cancelled.

Sabden councillor, Richard Newmark and his bride-to-be, Tricia Cunliffe, were one of the couples due to get married there next month.

They have been forced to move their service to Whalley Parish Church.

The couple, who will have Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans as a best man, have invited all the Sunday morning congregation to the ceremony on August 21.

Coun Newmark, who is on the church's parochial council, said: “It is sad because it is my local church.

"I wanted to get married there because it’s where I was confirmed and my mum and dad were both parishioners.”

Coun Newmark, whose daughter, Chloe, 26, was rose queen at the church said the steeple and clock tower were also in need of £25,000 repair for dry rot.

Church warden, Bernard Parfitt, said that the insurance will not cover the ‘wear and tear’ damage, and the diocese have not been in touch.

Church leaders have started a fundraising campaign for donations to fix the roof.

Eight years ago £170,000 was raised by parishioners to secure the external roof, and that remains in good condition.

The damage now has affected the inner ceiling, with high winds coming through vents thought to be to blame.

In 2009, parishioners launched a bid to raise £25k to repair the spire on the Grade Two listed parish church.