A CHURCH congregation is rejoicing after receiving funding to carry out essential repairs to their listed building.

Plans to restore Christ Church Ainsworth, which have been one year in the making, have taken a huge leap forward.

A grant of £36,000 from Viridor Credits Environmental Company will enable the church to fix its tower, carry out repointing, underpin a wall and strengthen its foundation, among other tasks.

The overall cost of the repairs to the Grade II listed church is in the region of £120,000.

The congregation has been fundraising, and praying, for the project since last May, in a bid to secure it for future generations.

Rev Dave Thomson, the vicar of Ainsworth, said: "The grant from Viridor Credits is a godsend, an answer to our prayers.

"Without the grant and an unexpected legacy, we faced years of fundraising, during which time our beautiful village church building would deteriorate further.

"Now we have the grant, we are hopeful the work can be completed this year.

"Fundraising continues though. We still need to find a small amount of match funding for the grant. Apart from that, maintaining an old building like ours is like painting the Forth Bridge – something always needs doing!"

Within the Church of England, every church building must be inspected by an architect or chartered building surveyor approved by the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) every five years.

These routine inspections early last year revealed that there were elements of the existing church, which was built almost 200 years ago, that would need to be repaired.

They also found that deteriorating stonework needed repairing and one of the walls must be stabilised if the building is to have a long-term future.

The congregation has since obtained permission from the Diocese of Manchester to go ahead with the work.

Members of the church have held discos, a luncheon, cake sales and other fundraising initiatives but work was impeded by the lack of funds.

Now the building work can commence thanks to a huge £36,000 grant awarded from Viridor's Landfill Communities Fund.

The church is one of several historic buildings within the Ainsworth Village Conservation Area and has been at the heart of village life for centuries.

The present building dates from 1831, although a church has stood on the spot for at least 500 years.