ST Laurence's Church in Ludlow has raised an amazing £20,000 in just six weeks.

The money will be used for a lighting project that it is hoped will start during September.

At the last count the figure was £19,600 and it is hoped that this can be increased if VAT can be reclaimed through the Listed Places of Worship Scheme.

But the church is not counting its chickens and has called for a final push to reach the £22,000 target needed to pay for the project.

It is being undertaken as part of a Vision programme that identified improved heating, lighting and sound as key priorities.

The first phase of this, including a new interim boiler, was completed earlier this year and 2015 has been earmarked for the installation of a new sound system.

However, for now the priority is better lighting ahead of the arrival of the autumn and winter.

It has been calculated that the work on the lighting system should pay for itself within about four years with the biggest saving being a £4,000 annual reduction in the electricity bill, added to by an estimated £2,000 a year saving in maintenance.

This will be achieved by the replacement of all of the existing lights with energy efficient LED lighting.

By far the biggest cost of the scheme will be the replacement of the tower lights at a cost of £7,000. The new lights in the nave will cost £3,200, £2,500 in the chancel, and £875 in the chapel.

During the period when the work is being done the side organ and Lady Chapel will not be accessible. Services in the Lady Chapel will be moved.

The 2014 fund-raising comes after £40,000 was raised to improve the heating including the replacement of the boiler.

A new gas fired system is now fully operational that is 90% efficient compared with the 40% efficiency of the old one which will save tens of thousands of pounds a year.

But this will only be the first step as the gas fired heating will within a few years become just a back up with environmentally friendly biomass fuel takings its place.

Work on the heating, lighting and sound system is being undertaken alongside a much bigger project to repair the church that attracts 100,000 visitors to the town every year.

In the spring work was completed on a £300,000 repair to the roof. A series of rooftop walks were organised to enable people to see what has been done.

The church is keen to stress that the Vision project is not about looking back but delivering a future in which St Laurence's is not just a place of worship but also a vibrant community facility.

It is already used by a playgroup and other organisations. Plans for the future will enable the building to stage concerts and other entertainments.

In the coming years a number of innovative changes will be made including replacing the existing pews with more modern seating.