A CRACK RAF bomber pilot is selling his prized vintage motorbike to help save his local church in Somerset.

Bill Southcombe's 1930 Norton CSI is expected to fetch around £25,000 when it goes to auction.

Every penny of the price paid will go towards the purchase of the Old URC Church, in Stoke-sub-Hamdon, built by one of his distant relative.

Bill, 77, has already donated the value of two other bikes to a war chest to save the church.

The church hosts several community projects and Bill fears if could be sold by developers if locals fail to raise £200,000 to save it.

The bike is being auctioned on April 7 at the National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham.

Bill said: "If we fail to buy the church it will be auctioned by the synod to developers probably or left to decay.

"It’s a Congregational church built by my ancestor, Richard Southcombe, for the community in 1866.

"It is 2* listed and in very good condition and was given to the URC Synod in 2016 by the elders. If we are to save it we must pay the synod this year."

Bill is a trustee of Hamdon Community Arts Project (HCAP), which has been founded to buy back the building for £100,000, half its market price, as a community sale.

Currently the church houses a playgroup, a local band and a charity shop.

The church has a 900-pipe organ donated by Julia Southcombe in 1875 which is still in perfect condition.

HCAP organises plays, recitals, music competitions, and the performance of Handel's Messiah.

The business plan for HCAP has earned parish and Somerset County Council support.

Besides the £100,000 needed to secure the church a further £100,000 is needed to convert it.

Bill was an RAF navigator in 1961 and flew three tours with the Vulcan B2 BS. He won Strike Command Bombing Competition, beating USAF B52 and F111s in 1970 and was posted to Phantom FGR2 at Coningsby(6 Sqn), carrying out night ground attack and deployment.

He was later detached to Akrotiri with 6 Sqn to keep the peace after the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey and then posted to RAF Germany on 14 Sqn, then to Leuchars (43Sqn) on Phantom FG1 on Quick Reaction Alert, intercepting Russian bombers in UK air space.

Mike Davis, of H&H Classics, said: "Bill Southcombe’s 1930 Norton is one of the very first Arthur Carol designed CS1 Norton's to have been made.

"It left the Norton works on December 20, 1930, was sold to Mr H G Turner, possibly for racing as it was not registered for road use until 1934.

It was purchased by Bill around 1969 in a dismantled state and was for years left untouched in boxes due to his moving around the country for RAF duties.

Restoration started in 2003 on his retirement.