AFTER years attempting to save their beloved chapel from disrepair, churchgoers in Charfield have seen their prayers answered tenfold.

Charfield Congregational Church was hoping to find the necessary funds to fix up the sanctuary and spruce up the facilities.

So trustees and members were flabbergasted when construction firm Woodstock Homes offered to give the building a £150,000 overhaul in exchange for the field next to the church.

Central heating, a state-of-the-art kitchen, office and storage space, disabled access and brand new chairs are only a few of the transformations in stock for the small congregation.

Jo Palmer first came to the church 14 years ago when she offered to help with the Sunday school. She has made it her mission to keep it afloat ever since.

"We are very excited about all this," she told the Gazette. "It has been quite a long battle. We have great plans for the building. We have sold most of the pews and will be getting new chairs.

"The space will now be much more usable and bigger. We will have central heating and will widen the entrance hall for disabled people and mothers to leave their prams. The building firm will also build two houses for us to rent out."

It is now hoped that the vital remodelling will help turn the church into a social as well as religious hub, with local groups using its facilities on a regular basis.

A coffee shop for young people could also be on the cards.

John Waldock joined the board of trustees back in 2007 and was delighted to finally see the chapel receive a full upgrade.

"We are not at all intending to be in competition with the Village Hall but it would be nice for groups to use the new space," he said.

"We would also like to have a coffee shop for youngsters to stay off the streets in winter.

"The work is starting in April and it will be done hopefully in July. We are hoping to hold a reconsecration service in mid-November."

The small congregation’s already extensive charity work would also benefit greatly from the renovation work, according to Mrs Palmer.

She added: "We took part in the Shoe Box Appeal and filled over 200 boxes last Christmas and our target for next year is 300 boxes. With the new space we would like to become a centre for the appeal.

"We already support Water Aid, CRY, Macmillan and Blythswood Care and more space would attract more members and we could focus more energy on charity work."