A MEDIEVAL church has received a grant of £54,000 for repairs to return it to its former glory.

The Grade I listed St Mary's Church, in Riccall, near Selby, needs work carrying out on its belfry and masonry.

But thanks to English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund, the church has been awarded £54,000 out of a total of £1.6 million which has been given to places of worship in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Tony Allitt, chairman of St Mary's Appeal Fund, said the grant was the culmination of a lot of hard work from the vicar, the appeal fund committee and the villagers, but that there is still more money to be raised.

He said the main area for concern was the church's belfry where the stone work has been eroded over time. The tower is currently supported by an internal wooden framework but this will only last a couple of years. Repairs also need to be carried out on the clere storeys - the stonework around the high windows in the nave.

In total, the work will cost around £105,000.

The church started its fundraising appeal last April.

Mr Allitt said: "I have to emphasise that the people of Riccall have been absolutely marvellous with their support.

"We've had various functions and auctions and entertainment evenings.

"Everybody, whether churchgoers or not, has all pitched in."

There were even donations from as far afield as Canada and Australia from villagers who have emigrated but heard about the fundraising.

Mr Allitt said the appeal collected £18,000 before the grant was approved so now the total stands at £72,000. But there is still more than £30,000 to raise.

To this end, events are still being held.

The next one is on March 24 when the Selebian Singers will hold a concert at the church, starting at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £5 and include wine and nibbles.

They will be available on the door, from Parochial Church Council members or from the village's Regen Centre. Children are admitted free.

Minster gets largest grant

HOWDEN Minster has also been a winner in the funding bonanza.

The 13th Century minster has been awarded £296,000 - the region's largest grant.

With its 135ft high tower and light coloured stonework, it dominates the East Riding landscape for miles around. But repair bills have escalated.

The money will be used to replace badly eroded stonework on the south side of the nave, which is vulnerable to acid rain. Roof repairs will also be carried out.

Maddy Jago, English Heritage's planning and development director for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: "Howden Minster is typical of the problems faced by congregations.

"It is a magnificent building, but one with a hefty repair bill. Finding the resources in a small town to make ends meet is a colossal challenge."