A BID to raise almost £60,000 to help secure the future of historic bells at an East Staffordshire church has reached the halfway point.
Reverend Andrew Ridley revealed that the appeal to raise the five figure sum to help buy a new steel bell frame at St James' Church, in Barton, had now surpassed the £30,000 point.
Rev Ridley, who also oversees St Mary's, in Dunstall, and St Michael and All Angels in Tatenhill, told the Mail how efforts to improve the bell ringing facilities were "taking time" due to the historic nature of the church building and the current wooden frame.
He said: "The project is based around the fact that bells need a new frame.
"The current wooden one is very old and needs to be replaced with a steel frame,
"Most church bells are now surrounded by a steel frame.
"However, the current frame has historic value and we are now in the process of trying to find out what we are going to do with it when we decide to make the change."
Records show that the bells at the church date back to 1739.
Rev Ridley added: "We cannot just discard it and we have to keep it in the church somehow to make use of its historical value.
"It weighs around four tonnes – so no matter what we do it is going to take quite a bit of work."
Funding has poured into the church from several different areas, including the recent Barton Gardens Festival.
"We are ever so grateful for all the funding that people raise for us," Rev Ridley added.
"I have been here three years now and the plans to do something about the bells has been running since before then.
"We need to make sure that the bells are fit for purpose.
"We want to ensure they can remain a major part of the church at the same time as being modernised so that they can be used by youngsters who want to become the next generation of bell ringers."
More information can be found online at www.stjames barton.org.uk/