MAJOR roof repairs at a Wirral church can now go ahead after a funding boost of more than £200,000.

Investigations identified the need for major repairs St Andrew's Church in Bebington with more than 50 per cent of the roof slate covering to be replaced plus stonework and gutter repairs.

For some years rainwater has been entering the Grade-1 listed building through failures in the roof coverings and drainage systems causing decay in structural timbers and damage to historic artifacts, pews and floor coverings.

The overall cost of the work is £416,000, but it can now get underway, thanks to £223,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and is expected to finish in November.

The church has been at the centre of Bebington life for more than 900 years, with much of the existing building dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries.

Over the years it has played a major role in local community life.

In the seventeenth century, it was responsible for the poor of the parish and in 1718 St Andrew's School, founded in 1655, used the belfry as a classroom.

Commenting on the funding boost, the Rev David Vestergaard, rector of the church, said: "We're delighted that we have received this support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

"The church has been at the centre of the community for centuries, witnessing to our faith and impacting on many local family lives, and it is great to know we are close to preserving it to help us continue our work and witness for another century".

The HLF grant will also enable a Community Heritage Project to be implemented.

A spokeswoman for the project said: "The Church is keen to share the many features of the building’s heritage and its longstanding role in the local community.

"A package of measures is proposed that will include regular opening times to provide access to a heritage exhibition, guided tours and church records, a heritage website plus educational fun trails for youngsters.

"There are many personal stories of people associated with the church across the years that have enriched this heritage and are of interest to all ages.

"The church would really like to hear of your life events that have involved St Andrew's and can be contacted on 0151 645 6478 or further details are available on the church website:"