A BOURNEMOUTH church is reflecting on a landmark year after completing a long-running fundraising project and seeing their pastor complete his time with the church.

Cornerstone Church has been making use of the extended facilities at Holloway Avenue, West Howe, after raising around £400,000 in three years.

The project began with around £60,000 after making savings during a period of interregnum in 2014 and following the appointment of pastor Brian Wiggins, the community has worked tirelessly to raise the funds required to carry out the work.

The improved and extended facility includes an improved foyer area, two additional meetings rooms and significant improvements to the toilet facilities to ensure they can be accessed by wheelchair users.

Overall the total floor area of the building has seen an increase of more than 25 per cent, compared to what the church had available prior to the start of the project.

The church community has raised all the required funds through various events, with a sole large grant donation of £40,000 from Talbot Village Trust.

The renovated church has been in use since August and pastor Wiggins, who is officially set to call time on his role at Cornerstone tomorrow, said: ‘‘The grant has allowed us to provide much needed resources for the community, as the creation of the two small rooms has meant we can now use the space for one-to-one advice sessions, and for other community support groups to meet.

"For instance Cornerstone Church is now home to Frontline Debt Advice, which is a free weekly service open to members of the public. The space has also been used to host a family fun day, as well as fitness classes and a weekly youth club.

"Before the work began to extend our premises, these support groups and events could only be accommodated in a very limited way.’’

Church Secretary Mary James said the renovated church had provided a vital asset for the community.

"It has been a tremendous success story," she said.

"West Howe is one of the most deprived areas in Bournemouth so it is great that we have been able to achieve this.

"Our pastor retired on December 31. In his time here he has done an incredible job in driving efforts forward and getting the funds required.

"We have been very fortunate and we are very excited because a lot of good things are happening."