A DECADE-LONG project to restore a unique village church to its former glory will be completed midway through next year, officials have said.

The success of the refurbishment project at St John the Evangelist church in Shobdon was put in doubt when contractors Capps and Capps were placed into liquidation last month.

But church officials have now appointed Madleybased firm IJ Preece to take over the scheme at a cost of around £25,000.

Trustee of the Shobdon Church Preservation Trust, Andrew Gilliat, said the aim is to have the project completed by June.

“It’s going to be hard work to meet that plainly, because so much of the work is having to be done in cold weather,” said Andrew.

“You can’t do masonry when the temperature drops below minus five degrees centigrade and also some of the plastering work that needs to be done can’t be done if it’s icy cold.”

The Grade I-listed church is world renowned for its earlier Gothic revival interior and regularly attracts visitors from across the globe.

Work started 10 years ago to repair the church but inspections revealed a number of complications.

Funding from English Heritage and the US-based World Monument Fund (WMF) topped £750,000 but the local community has pitched in too, contributing £120,000 so far.

However, the demise of Capps and Capps combined with the capping of a government scheme to return VAT has cost the project in the region of £60,000.

Officials estimate around eight weeks of work is needed to bring the project to completion which they hope will coincide with the village’s food and flower festival.

“It’s a particularly special building,” added Andrew.

“We get thousands of visitors each year and they come from all over the world.”