A CASH-strapped village church has found a novel way to raise money for a refurbishment … by asking its congregation to donate gold, silver or costume jewellery to be auctioned.

And antique expert Carolyn Hawley of BBC's Bargain Hunt and Flog It! fame is to value the goods free of charge and sell them without commission at her auction house.

The televisión celebrity will be visiting St Thomas’ Church, Delph, later this month to examine first hand the parishioners offerings.

Rev John Rosedale, the Saddleworth team vicar, said in two years the 80-strong congregation has raised more than £400,000 for major refurbishment works at the church which is also a village community hub.

He said: “With increased costs we were £60,000 short of the new total and would not be able to pay.

“The call went out for more financial support and one particular response helped us to think again, not cash but unwanted valuables that we could take to auction.

“The Biblical principle for this can be found in the Old Testament, when in rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem the people brought their silver and gold and also furnished the temple.

“The idea was put out to the congregation and Julie Dawson took the bit between her teeth, within hours of the call she had contacted Caroline and she has offered to value what we have and place it in Hawley’s Sale Room November Auction, free of commission.”

The vicar added: “Small items of antique furniture would also be welcome. Any items unsold at auction we will seek to sell via other means – nothing will go to waste.“

Caroline will be visiting St Thomas’ to view and appraise items on Monday, October 26. People who would like to donate an item of gold, silver or costume jewellery should take it to the church between 2pm to 4pm on Sunday, October 25 or contact Rev John Rosedale 01457 874209 who will arrange collection from homes.