A CHURCH held a fundraiser last weekend to raise money for ‘urgent’ repairs and restoration which will cost more than £50,000.

The exterior of St Helen’s in Athersley is suffering from ‘fast deteriorating concrete cancer’, according to Father Peter Needham.

The vicarage’s garden party was held last Friday, followed by a Covid memorial mass and a grand auction on the Saturday, and around £1,000 was raised.

The church also has an online Go Fund Me page open to donations, called the St Helen’s Restoration Fund, which has raised over £600 so far.

Work has got underway over the last two weeks, funded by money the church had already raised, but Fr Needham says more money is needed.

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“We want to have pride in our parish church, and there is, but it could be much better,” he said.

“The church is in desperate need of these repairs and redecoration so that the Athersley community can take pride in it.”

The interior walls - which haven’t been decorated for around 20 years - are visibly deteriorating and serious internal damage remains.

The 15-foot-tall altarpiece - which is quite a rare work of art to be found in small churches like St Helen’s - is also in need of restoration.

Fr Peter said: “Way out in the sticks in the middle of four council estates, you have this work of art.

“Why shouldn’t places like Athersley look after beautiful things like this?

“It shouldn’t only be in the town centre where we have beautiful works of art.”