HOLY Trinity Church in Ilfracombe is setting up a Friends group to help it pay its bills. It costs £62,000 a year to keep the building in good repair and the burden falls on members of the congregation, many of them retired.

HOLY Trinity Church in Ilfracombe is setting up a Friends' group to help it pay its bills.

It costs £62,000 a year to keep the building in good repair and the burden falls on members of the congregation, many of them retired.

The Friends of Holy Trinity Parish Church will seek to share the load by organising fund-raising events and generally helping the work of the church.

The group is baeing launched at an open afternoon to be held in the 14th century church on Saturday, May 23 from 1pm to 4pm.

Churchwarden Chris Knox said: "We do not get any help from church authorities and we have to raise money from donations, legacies, collections and fund-raising events like table top sales and Trinity Fair.

"But each year it gets more difficult to raise the full amount.

"We believe we have a duty to continue the work of our forefathers in maintaining this ancient building for use by today's community of Ilfracombe and for future generations.

"The church has been used for more than 800 years for baptisms, weddings, funerals and Sunday services. The list of rectors goes back to 1261.

"To encourage more people to take an interest in preserving this ancient building, we are setting up an association to watch over the church building and its ancient treasures for posterity."

Enrolment forms for the Friends will be available at the open day, along with information about the history of the church. Tea and biscuits will also be served.

The first fund-raising event to be arranged by the Friends will be a concert in the church in July featuring the Cedars Show Band from Barnstaple.

For more details about the Friends, call Jeanne Hardwick on (01271) 865296 or the church office on (01271) 863467.