ACTRESS Hannah Gordon, star of Upstairs Downstairs, The Persuaders and My Wife Next Door, is joining a cast of 70 for a marathon Bible reading at Shipston's St Edmund's Church.

They will be attempting to read the Bible non-stop over four days from September 20 to 23 to raise money to help restore the historic church windows.

St Edmund's aims to raise £30,000 from the event and has already signed up 70 volunteers to read for 10-minute sessions starting at 4pm on September 20 until 6pm on the 23. Refreshments will be laid on to keep the readers going.

It is hoped to recruit some 400 volunteers for the event, including those helping to serve refreshments, time-keeping and acting as stewards. Local landowner Sir John Owen is another to have added his name to the list.

Many local businesses have made pledges to sponsor the event, including Greys opticians, Turners the grocers, the North Cotswold Jeweller, Holley's Time in Hand, and David Hunt Lighting.

Church secretary Susan Perry said: "The event has captured the imagination of the town. People who don't normally go to church are offering to read. Others are spontaneously giving money in the street towards the appeal or offering to make the refreshments during the weekend.

"There is a lot of goodwill and people wanting to help."

Shipston Primary School has set aside the final fortnight this term for a window project with their displays on exhibition at the church during the marathon weekend.

The idea for the marathon came from churchwarden Colin Bilby who read that a village in Huntingdonshire had successfully raised £20,000 for their church through sponsored Bible reading. His wife Janet is a relative of Hannah Gordon.

Flyers with a sign-up form can be found in St Edmund's. Anyone who would like to take part can call the Rev David Thurburn-Huelin on 01608 661724 or Susan Perry on 01608 662748.