Events to mark big birthday

A PONTELAND church is inviting residents to join the congregation for its 40th-anniversary celebrations this weekend.

After an initial Presbyterian service was held in Ponteland Memorial Hall in 1963, by the end of that year the former Darras Hall Station building had been repaired and adapted for worship.

In 1969, the site of Darras Hall Station and sidings were leased from the Estate Committee and the congregation decided that a new building should be constructed.

The first service in the new Ponteland United Reformed Church (URC) took place on July 22, 1973. Over the years, its ministers have been the Reverend David Hannen, Rev Kevin Watson, Rev Philip Gray and Rev Joan Ross, the current minister.

On Saturday afternoon, details of its history, as well as activities and important events that were and currently are held in the church, will be on display. They will include plenty of photographs.

There will also be information about the groups that use the church – from a ballet class and exercise sessions for the over 60s to Brownies, Guides and the WI.

Two metal seats at the front of the church have been installed to mark the occasion.Afternoon tea, including some home-made baking, will be provided from 2pm onwards. On Sunday, A Service of Celebration will be held from 10am.

It will be led by Rev Ross, accompanied by Revs Gray and Watson.

Church secretary Carol Gabriel, who has been in the congregation since 1968, said: “There is a buzz around the place at the moment, particularly among the 20 or so of us who have been members of the church since it opened.

“The weekend is a good opportunity for some local residents to find out more about what goes on in the church.”