THEY came with their keepsakes and private sentimental gifts to help a cash-strapped village church to raise money for a major refurbishment.

The loyal congregation and friends of St Thomas Church Delph donated gold, silver, costume jewellery and pieces of furniture to be valued by the expert eye of Caroline Hawley.

And after viewing the myriad of items, the blonde-haired antiques guru of BBC‘s Bargain Hunt and Flog It! declared: “There are some really exciting items.

“It is such an eclectic mix and personally, I’m particularly taken with a Victorian hand-made leather hatbox complete with silk top hat, truly wonderful.

“There are some lovely finds. And I’ve become fascinated by Saddleworth itself since my first visit when I gave a presentation to a local ladies group.

“I can already see some brilliant auction items,“ she said. "I am taking them away to conduct proper research into their background and history before preparing proper valuations to ensure the church maximises on the generosity of its wonderful people.”

Caroline said she plans to include all the items in a special section highlighting to the church’s extraordinary efforts at an online auction at Beverley racecourse in the new year.

“There is sure to be worldwide interest,” she declared. “ I am seriously hoping the church will be able to add to it’s growing restoration fund.“

Rev John Rosedale, the Saddleworth team vicar, said Caroline had agreed to value the goods free of charge and sell them without commission.

In two years the resolute congregation has raised more than £400,000 for the church which includes a community hub.

“With increased cost we were £60,000 short of the new total and we are hopeful the fantastic generosity of the congregation will help boos that figure,"he said.

Church warden Bill Maxwell said: “There are some really unusual and different items people have generously gifted us - everything from George the third spoons to even a crumpet warmer. It’s been a very gratifying effort by our loyal congregation and we are looking forward to see what their generosity raises at the auction."