NOT even Storm Freya could blow the smiles off the faces at Stoke Lacy's Church's Topping Out ceremony recently.

Parishioners donned their warmest layers to celebrate at the ceremony for the renovation work on the spire of St Peter's and St Paul's Church.

Vernon Amor, MD of Wye Valley Brewery, was the guest of honour thanks to the brewery's generous donation towards the regilding of the weathervane. Vernon toured the site to inspect the great work on the new beautifully shingled spire and to see the improvements inside the bell tower.

While only the Reverend Clive Evans and Stoke Lacy heritage lead, John Davies, were brave enough to go all the way up, parishioners joined them on the first stage of the scaffolding.

Clive and John were well supported by Mike Gammon and his building team to ensure the camera, the bird and the extra, but essential, step ladder got to the top safely.

It was an amazing moment for the SLHP team. Twelve months, ago a broken church. Now, one HLF grant and a hugely successful fundraising effort later, a brand new refurbished spire and tower.

John Davies said "We are ecstatic that this first phase of the project has gone so smoothly and so quickly".

Reverend Clive praised Mike Gammon and his team for being so efficient and for being such great fun to work with. He said, "The getting up was fine, it was the staying upright which was the problem! The cockerel looks fantastic and not surprisingly, once in position, immediately swung into action. It was a fitting way to crown all the excellent work which Mike and his team have been doing."

After this great achievement, the project team are looking forward to the next stage of the project on their "to-do" list as work begins on the nave roof.