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'More' the merrier after cash appeal.

Generous parishioners have helped a church fundraising drive amass pounds 55,000 in just six months.

More than half the cash needed to pay for urgent repair work at St Thomas More's Church, Beechwood, Middlesbrough, has been raised.

Parish priest Father John Lumley, said: "Since the launch of the appeal support has been fantastic, and, sometimes, from quite unexpected sources.

"It's astounded me the way parishioners have risen to the challenge. A lot have given pounds 500 pledges for themselves or their families, and raised the money."

"We've managed to do a good part of the repair work with the money we've raised," he added.

"We've done extensive work on the roof, windows and disabled access.

"The next phase is similar work on the church hall, which has been closed for over a year.

"The focus will shift to get it up and running in the new year.

"It's been unsafe. We don't have a venue for fundraising and it means a lot of the life of the parish has stopped, like bingo, children's groups and the wider community using it - footballers, slimming clubs, dance groups. It's a community resource out of action."

A fundraising committee was set up to deal with the church's plight.

Among those to swell the coffers was Father John's nephew Paul Jeffers, 27, who scaled the heights of the UK's three highest mountains to raise funds for his uncle's church.

He and his friends Robin Bradbury, 46, and Andrew Walsh, 28, climbed the three highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales in 25 hours.

Other events that have contributed to the fund include a race night and a Christmas coffee morning.

The next major event planned is Rocking in the Aisles 2004, where priests will perform at Middlesbrough Theatre on January 9 and 10.

For more information and tickets call Martin and Julie Allinson on 01642 598216.

* To offer support to the church repair fund, contact St Thomas More's Presbytery, Kirkham Row, Beechwood, Middlesbrough, phone 01642 814794.
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Title Annotation:News Local
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Dec 18, 2003
Words:332
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