Churchgoers in Hartford could receive one of their best Christmas presents ever as an appeal to restore their historic organ moves closer to completion.

The Hill & Son organ at All Saints Church in Hartford is due to be restored.The Hill & Son organ at All Saints Church in Hartford is due to be restored.

Around £10,000 is still outstanding on the fundraising programme, but the parish church of All Saints hopes to hit its target in the next few weeks, possibly by Christmas, and work on the organ is expected to be ready by the end of the year.

The church has been on the bank of the River Great Ouse since 1180 and the organ has played a key role in services since it was installed in 1874.

Rector, the Rev Geoff Boucher, said: “The opportunity to have the organ fully restored and enhanced by such an excellent organ builder is a great gift to us and very exciting, and we are blessed to have a good start in funding the work.

“We hope that individual parishioners and families who come to the building, occasionally or regularly, will each make a contribution and so be a community which provides the next generation with an instrument which continues to accompany baptisms, weddings and funerals, as well as the regular offering of worship on behalf of the parish.”

The organ was built by Hill & Son of London and installed in the church in 1874 - for a cost of £205. Now the restoration will cost £25,475, plus VAT. Donations of more than £15,000 have been made so far and the VAT can be reclaimed, leaving parishioners hopeful of meeting the shortfall in the next few weeks.

The church said the organ had given “excellent service” for nearly 150 years and was in need of renovation so that it would be available for many years to come.

Eminent organ consultant Nicholas Thistlethwaite advised the church on the work needed and Bower and Co of Norwich have been awarded the contract for the work which will take about three months to complete.