Four years after campaigners began raising funds to repair a village church they have reached their target.

Yesterday, the congregation of St James Church, in Coundon, was celebrating a £50,000 grant towards its Under The Roof Appeal.

On the same date in 2002, parish priest Father Gary Nicholson climbed on to the church roof carrying a leek.

The stunt signalled the start of a fundraising drive to raise £300,000 to replace the church's leaking roof and refurbish the rest of the building.

With £140,000 from English Heritage and cash from other organisations and supporters, most of the project has already been completed.

In 2004, a new roof was built but, as the work was being carried out, a large piece of the decorative dome ceiling above the altar collapsed.

The next year, enough money had been raised to replace the dome with a feature ceiling decorated with a night sky scene.

The congregation wants to make the Grade II-listed building more accessible to residents of all ages and abilities from the village and surrounding area.

The latest £50,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant will pay for a kitchen, social space and toilet.

A learning porch will also be created, by glazing off one side of the building, for education projects and exhibitions.

Father Nicholson said: "We hope previous and new groups will come into St James and use the space, which should be ready by next summer.

"Schools can visit and learn about the church, local heritage, our churchyard conservation garden and exhibit work.

"It will bring a new life to an already beautiful building and provide a wonderful facility for the whole community."

The campaign has included a number of fundraising events in the village, with the congregation and villagers raising £40,000 for the appeal.

Father Nicholson said: "People have been remarkable - they have raised £10,000 for every year of the appeal which is amazing because it isn't an affluent area.

"This latest grant is wonderful. In four short years, we have climbed what seemed like a mountain initially, and though we will need a bit more money, it will be for mainly cosmetic improvements."