The completion of £500,000-worth of repairs to a 900-year-old church roof means “it’s no longer raining inside”.
A routine, five-year inspection of Wisbech parish church in Cambridgeshire during 2017 uncovered a leaking roof, rotten timbers and cracked masonry.
Church treasurer Val Spriggs said she was “almost paralysed with fear” when she heard the size of the repair bill.
With the roof restored and rebuilt, she felt “very emotional on the day the scaffolding came down”.
Grade I-listed St Peter and St Paul’s was placed on Historic England’s At Risk Register after the extent of the damage was revealed.
Mrs Spriggs approached the architect behind the inspection for advice and he said he would help with a National Heritage Lottery Fund bid.
To help the application “stand out”, they offered a programme for local school children to learn more about the building, its context and history.
As a result, pupils learned how to write news reports and made and illustrated a church guide, for use by children, aided by a journalist from the Fenland Citizen.
The team of parishioners, jointly led by church warden Trevor Wright, also wanted to “add loos and a kitchen”, so the ancient building could be “a church for the future” and used by the community for events or fundraisers, added Mrs Spriggs.
The bid was successful and eventually the church received about £700,000, including more than £400,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and more than £300,000 from other grants, plus a bequest from parishioner Anne Carlisle.
Building work began in April 2021 and the roof has recently been completed, with other works around the church being finished off.
The priest-in-charge, Rev Canon Matthew Bradbury, said: “It’s no longer raining inside the church.”
He paid tribute to the “diligence and flair” of Mrs Spriggs and the skills of the restoration’s craftsmen.
The church continues to work with pupils from the Orchards Church of England Academy, who are regular visitors.