REPAIR work has started on a Gwent theatre after it hit its £18,000 fundraising target over the weekend.

Just five weeks after it announced the risk of closure was looming, Blackwood Little Theatre has raised the necessary amount for essential works on its leaky 70 year-old roof.

Supporters dug deep into their pockets on Saturday to meet the target, raising more than £3,500 at a gala night to cap the incredible turnaround.

The theatre still needs to raise a further £10,000 to replace electrical lighting equipment and the stage, which have both suffered irreparable damage as a result of holes in the roof.

But fundraising co-ordinator Janine O’Callaghan said the support given to the theatre had been overwhelming.

“I just remember sitting with my head in my hands in such worry, but in a short space of time we have had the whole amount come in and the realisation that we actually did it and the work would be going ahead," she said.

“It still isn’t over and we have to continue fighting and fundraising for the rest of the money, but the battle feels half-won.”

The group had originally aimed to raise £16,000 in five-weeks - in an attempt to access a £30,000 grant promised by Caerphilly County Borough Council - but it increased as costs rose.

Proceedings at the gala on Saturday included an auction hosted by actress Connie Fisher, and a production of popular TV show The Vicar of Dibley.

An appeal video backed by Game of Thrones star Ross O’Hennessy gave the fundraising campaign a kick-start, and led to support from other high profile names including the Manic Street Preachers.

Ms O’Callaghan added: “Seeing the community come together has been fantastic. We have had online comments and donations from people in New Zealand, Canada and Portugal, which has been really special.”

Local AM Steffan Lewis visited the site on Monday. He said: “The public responded to their appeal to raise thousands with amazing generosity and it is terrific to see that the work has now started to restore the theatre to its former glory.

“I’m delighted see how much progress they’ve made with the essential repairs to the roof and am confident it has a very bright future ahead.”

Several ideas are said to be in the pipeline for further fundraising activities, including a ghost hunt and a skydive by theatre trustees James Fleet and Emma Chambers.