WORSHIPPERS are busy raising £80,000 to repair and refurbish the roof of a Fleet church.

For years, St Philip and St James, or P&J as it is affectionately known, has faced an enormous problem with its roof.

The church was built in 1966 to replace the old ‘Tin Tabernacle', which some readers may still remember.

The problem is that the wooden church heats up and cools down quickly, which leads to condensation.

Work carried out about 13 years ago solved the problem, but when the new heating system was installed it started all over again.

This time it caused extreme condensation and for some time worshippers have become used to droplets of water falling on their heads during services in the winter months.

Major work on the roof began earlier this year and for a number of months the church was closed altogether. Combined services were held in All Saints Church.

Since the beginning of the year, fundraising has been underway at P&J and All Saints Church to raise the £80,000 for the repair and refurbishment of the roof.

Fundraising efforts have been many and varied.

Pupils at All Saints and Velmead junior schools have designed Christmas cards, which are on sale at both churches. Cakes have been sold after services and at coffee mornings in the Hart shopping centre, while home-made jams, chutneys and runner beans fresh from the garden have all helped to swell the coffers.

Sunday lunches in All Saints Church hall have also proved popular, as have dinner parties held in homes and at the vicarage.

The most recent and ambitious fundraiser was a flower festival weekend at All Saints Church.

Irene Hankin undertook the mammoth task of co-ordinating all the groups, whose displays which illustrated a favourite hymn transformed the church.

The youngest groups to be represented were Squirrels pre-school playgroup and St Philip and St James brownies.

As well as individuals and groups from All Saints and P&J, teams of flower arrangers from Christ Church Crookham, Crookham Mothers Union, the Catholic Ladies Guild, the Methodist Church and the Church on the Heath all made stunning floral arrangements.

Among the dazzling displays were three from local florists, Oasis Flowers, J&L Flowers and Flowers and Things. The flower festival began with an organ recital by Geoffrey Morgan, who until he retired recently, was sub organist at Guildford Cathedral.

He has long associations with Fleet as musical director of the Fleet and District Choral Society.

Instead of an interval, the Fleet Choral Ensemble, conducted by Richard Wigram, sang a group of spirituals.

Hundreds of people viewed the flowers over the weekend and took advantage of the home-made soup and French cheeses provided by church warden Elizabeth Waller and assistant church warden Lynda Hix.

The festival finished with a Sunday Songs of Praise service.

Future fundraising events include a Race Night this month and a Christmas Tree Competition and Festival in December.