A PROJECT to build a new parish centre in Gerrards Cross got off the ground last Sunday when £1.3 million was pledged to the scheme in just one day.

St James, Gerrards Cross, and St James, Fulmer, raised more than half the target of £2.25 million in a single day of pledges from churchgoers.

The Rector, Paul Williams, described the sum as "wonderful", but pointed out that it was just the first step towards collecting the total funding for the scheme.

The proposed new building would include a 500-seater auditorium, two large rooms for youth and children's groups, stage, lighting and sound systems, a creche and catering facilities.

Mr Williams said: "Our prayers have been answered and the response from the congregation has been magnificent.

"Not only are we well over half-way to our target of £2.25 million, but the project has also attracted support from most of our members.

"We shall go into the New Year full of enthusiasm."

The new building would be host to a wide range of activities including mother and toddler groups, parenting and marriage courses and concerts and plays.

Ten per cent of all the money raised will be given to causes outside the church, including Toybox, a local charity that supports work with street children in Guatemala.

Duncan Dyason, director of Toybox, said: "We are very excited here in realising that a local church is prepared to get behind a local charity.

"One of the strong points of Toybox is that local people come together to support work for people in other countries."

The next steps are to draw up the detailed requirements of the plan, taking into account views expressed by church members.

Mr Williams believes there is a need for the hall, which he hopes will serve the the whole village, not just members of the church.

He added: "The new centre will be designed to meet the needs of a growing congregation and enable us to have new opportunities to serve the wider community."

"We require modern, flexible space for a wider range of youth activities, adult teaching and community programmes.

"We shall keep in close contact with the Community Association to ensure that a new building at St James will complement the facilities at the Memorial Centre."

The new hall would replace the existing three buildings on the site, Main Hall, Cedar Hall and Green Hall.