STRIDES have been made in reaching a fundraising goal of more than £250,000 to restore and reorder a Grade I-listed historic church.

The collection for Darton All Saints’ Church - which has sat on the corner of Church Street and Barnsley Road for more than 500 years - was officially launched in November and has already garnered £30,000 towards the goal of £266,156.

According to Fr Tim Stevens, the building - which was consecrated in 1517 - has numerous indoor issues preventing it from being used by the community as well as it could be.

The target has been estimated from quotations given for the works needed to make the church more useable - and the congregation celebrated collecting more than ten per cent of their target in just the first few months.

“This is all from people generously donating and from the fundraisers we’ve done,” said Fr Tim.

“It really is impressive how much has been raised in such little time and all from the generosity of local people - and me doing silly things like walking 30 miles in my robes.

“The progress we’ve made does give me a positive outlook that we will one day achieve our target.”

Plans for the church aim to restore the building to its 16th century state but with modern day usability.

The single most costly part of the restoration is the moving of the 600-pipe organ, estimated at a cost of £83,000, as it is currently hidden away where it can’t be heard properly. Other plans include the restoration and cleaning of a marble effigy of John Silvester, a legendary Tower of London blacksmith from Kexborough, which was sculpted in the 16th century by Peter Scheemakers.

The monument is largely hidden by the current placement of the organ, and is ‘precious and deserves to be restored’, according to Fr Tim.

Another key part of the project is to remove the temporary altar platform which was installed on a temporary licence of 15 months, but has now stood for more than five years.

Next up on the church’s fundraising event scheduled is a performance by internationally-renowned cellist, Orlando Jopling, who Fr Tim approached to put on a show to help raise money.

Orlando - who has done similar concert fundraisers across the country to help with numerous causes - will perform at Darton All Saints this evening at 7pm with tickets available on the door.