THOUSANDS of pounds have been raised towards an ongoing project to develop a landmark Evesham church into a new tourist attraction for the town.

Plans to develop the historical St Lawrence's Church in Evesham's Abbey Park by a leading heritage charity, which maintains the building, are moving forward after £16,500 was raised.

But the project needs a total of £32,000 and needs local support if it is to succeed in raising the full amount.

The Churches Conservation Trust, a national charity protecting churches at risk, maintains the Grade I Listed building and spent £200,000 on repairs to the exterior in 2013.

Originally built in the 12th-century, St Lawrence’s already attracts over 40,000 visitors a year from abroad and all over the UK.

The plans for development will see a new welcome hub added to the building and a suite of interactive interpretation created to engage visitors with the stories of the church and its link with the historic Abbey.

So far the Saintbury Trust and John Martin’s Charity have donated to the cause and the remaining funds will hopefully be raised through grants from local benefactors, trusts and foundations.

George Le Roy, volunteering officer for St Lawrence’s, said: "St Lawrence’s is a brilliant heritage resource for Evesham.

"This project aims to attract new audiences and strengthen Abbey Park’s position as a top notch example of living history. Our goal is to ensure a warm welcome and fascinating and enjoyable visit awaits all visitors to the church, whether local or from further afield."

The project also provides new opportunities for local people to become involved in the church and the history of Evesham as volunteer welcome hosts, event managers and community co-ordinators.

A special programme of activities is planned to introduce visitors to the new facilities on Saturday, September 13, as part of Worcestershire Festival of Churches and nationwide Heritage Open Days.

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