A community group battling to save a 1,440-year-old church from total closure has been boosted by a £5,000 grant.

St Madoc of Ferns in Haroldston West was closed by the Church in Wales on 31 July 2022.

At its last service every pew was full of churchgoers singing their hearts out.

At one point the church, founded in 583AD was at risk of having its roof removed to become a safe ruin.

However, it was taken over by the St Madoc of Ferns Community Trust, which hopes to maintain public access to the church and use the venue for the benefit of the Haven community as well as reinstating a limited number of church services.

The mediaeval church was founded in 583AD and substantially rebuilt in the 1880s.

The trust is working on a business planand hopes to open the church as a haven of rest and contemplation for summer visitors and pilgrims.

It also hopes to create a heritage centre for historical education and recitals using the unique acoustics of the church are also planned.

Finally, as a part of the historic and spiritual pilgrimage routes in Wales it plans to offer safe overnight haven through collaboration with pilgrim organisations in the UK and Ireland.

The mission has now been boosted by a £5,000 grant from the Community Business in Places of Worship programme, funded by the Benefact Trust and delivered by the Plunkett Foundation.

This is the maximum grant available and was allotted thanks to the tireless work of Alison Gibby, the group secretary and a dedicated local parishioner.

The money will be used to help the group with legal costs in obtaining a lease from the Church in Wales.

Professional surveyors will also be employed to assess the state of the bell cote, the stained glass windows, the problems of damp and extent of the subsidence.

‘This is a massive step forward in our fight to re-establish the church in working order and to create new uses as defined by the objectives of our charity,’ said Alison.