HOUSEWIFE Kathy Moss was outraged when she heard that the crumbling pinnacles on her parish church were to be demolished.

She was delighted to discover that dozens of her fellow villagers at Bladon shared her concern.

After all, St Martin’s was not just the parish church but known internationally as the burial place of wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill.

Within a few weeks, a petition had attracted more than 3,000 signatures and a public meeting voted strongly in favour of raising the £5,800 needed to save the pinnacles.

Twelve months later, in 1982, the five-strong appeal committee was celebrating success.

Mrs Moss, of Manor Road, Bladon, said at the time: “The appeal has been really worthwhile. We received letters from all over the world encouraging us.

“It was a tremendous achievement. I think it was good for the village and united it.”

There was little doubt that without the swift action of villagers, the pinnacles would have disappeared from the Bladon skyline.

Although the church and graveyard were visited by thousands of people every year, there was no cash to pay for the restoration work. Operation Pinnacles then got into full swing.

Mrs Moss said: “Villagers promised to give a certain amount each week and other local people were excellent, giving money and help.

“Passersby and tourists gave generously and we had money sent to us from abroad.”

A mile of pennies outside the church stretched much farther than organisers could have hoped, netting £1,500, then Mrs Moss set her sights on greater – and higher – tasks.

With her 13-year-old niece, Nicola Walker, she embarked on a 24-hour vigil on top of the church tower, raising more than £150. Villagers kept them supplied with hot drinks and food.

Mrs Moss said afterwards: “We feel very tired but pleased with ourselves. We did not sleep terribly well but we were at least warm and dry. Bladon looks really beautiful by night.”

Villagers organised art exhibitions, coffee mornings and sales to boost the appeal.

Everyone was delighted when the appeal was concluded, allowing work on ‘Operation Pinnacles’ to start, but celebrations were muted – villagers toasted their success with nothing more than a coffee morning!