AN anonymous donor has pledged £1,000 to York's Arts Barge, taking the project a step closer to becoming a reality.

The generous donation came on the project's YorkHive crowdfunding page, and stunned the organisers who say they are thrilled with the boost it gives to their campaign, and are desperate to thank their mystery backer.

The Arts Barge's Hannah West was at the computer when the surprise notification arrived from the crowdfunding site. She said they wanted to give the donor "a massive thank you".

She said: "We'd really like to find out who they are. We'd love to thank them personally.

"We'd like to invite them down to the barge to show them how it's going to work. It'd be nice to give them an idea of what they have contributed to, and what the vision is.

"I'd like to take them for a pint."

The Arts Barge brought its boat, the Selby Tony, into the Foss Basin earlier this year but now needs to raise around £23,000 to start transforming it into an arts centre.

With generous "in kind" donations from architects DSP and Mudfords, money raised through its own events, and pledges made through YorkHive, it now has £17,000.

In addition to the anonymous donation, Hannah added that another boost came when a Fulford man contacted the team about a piece of the barge's history.

The man said he had a bell in the garden, bought at a car boot sale years ago, engraved with the words "Selby Tony 1957", and wanted to donate it to the project and reunite it with the barge.

Hannah said: "It's such a coincidence that the bell was here, because the barge isn't from York, it's from Selby."

The challenge now is to raise the remaining funds before the crowdfunding appeal expires, as pledges given through York Hive will not be realised unless the whole total is pledged.

They are about to start approaching businesses for support, and are hoping for more supporters to come forward to stage fundraising events on their behalf.

The regular Gypsy jazz nights are continuing at Victoria Vaults every other Wednesday, the next on April 13; and a benefit gig is being held at the Post Office Club on May 6.