AN appeal to save a Herefordshire church tower from toppling down has smashed the half way mark - thanks to an unexpectedly generous grant.

An £8,000 cheque from the Historic Churches Preservation Trust has been written out to St Faith's Church, Dorstone.

About £47,000 is needed to fix the tower's serious structural faults. The pledge brings the appeal to £28,000.

Appeal supporter Patricia Smyly, said: "Dorstone PCC was thrilled to receive such a generous grant.

"This was especially welcome after the disappointment of being turned down by English Heritage and means that it may just be possible for all the proposed work to be done in one operation instead of in stages, which would inevitably involve considerably more expense."

She said the Historic Churches Preservation Trust receives an average 2,000 applications a year and is only able to help 400. The average grant is a fraction of that given to St Faith's at £2,500.

Latest funds for the Appeal have also come from an Azur Fashion Show, the village's Christmas play and sports shirts donated by Stuart Foster of Castle Barn.