A VILLAGE church is much more welcoming to parishioners now thanks to a major makeover.
After five years of planning and fund-raising, St Andrew’s Church in Hartburn has been transformed so it can be at the heart of community life for many years to come.
Church officials worked with Diocesan Architect Robin Dower on the changes, which include a geothermal under-floor heating system to maintain an overall pleasant temperature throughout the year without having to spend an unaffordable amount.
A disabled access ramp has been installed inside the church and this has removed the tricky drop onto a step immediately from the porch door into the knave.
What used to be the old boiler house now contains a disabled-access toilet and a kitchen/servery has also been put in place.
Funding for the project came from a substantial bequest by a former parishioner, successful grant applications and activities such as film nights and fetes.
Churchwarden David Moon said: “It has taken a while, not only in agreeing what we were going to do but also in getting it through faculty – the Church of England’s planning process.
“But now that it has been completed, we’re delighted with the changes and everyone who attends the church has commented on how much of a difference has been made.
“We wrestled with committing to the expense for the heating system when we could have replaced the existing oil-based system for a much lower amount, but we decided to go ahead with it as it will preserve the building for the long-term by providing a constant source of warmth.
“Walls which have been affected by damp for decades are starting to dry out. The works involved the replacement of the dark parquet floor with ceramic tiles, which have a light stone effect, and an unforeseen consequence has been the significant lightening of the church interior.
“All the new facilities will help our aim for the building to be used throughout the week for community events and activities, not just on a Sunday morning.
“Our heartfelt thanks go to Robin and the contractors who have executed such fine work. Also to all who have made contributions to the project, whether large or small, and the volunteers.”
The organ had to be taken apart and it was placed into storage to make way for the kitchen/servery area. Where to put it now is next on the list. Smaller items were carried back into the church before the first service since the refurbishment, which was conducted by the Bishop of Newcastle – The Rt Revd Martin Wharton.
A candlelit supper is taking place in the building on Friday, October 19, from 7.30pm. For more information, telephone 01670 772253.