Breathing new life into 800-year-old church

The Northern Echo: Rev Canon Caroline Dick and project worker Pam Barmby with parishioners at St Michael and All Angels Church, Witton Gilbert (6608970) Rev Canon Caroline Dick and project worker Pam Barmby with parishioners at St Michael and All Angels Church, Witton Gilbert (6608970)

A CAMPAIGN to restore a historic church and bring it into wider use is well on the way to success.

The 800-year-old St Michael and All Angels Church, in Witton Gilbert, near Durham City, received Heritage Lottery Fund cash as part of a £262,000 project.

Already, the roof has been repaired, a new toilet installed, a kitchen-meeting room and a cafe space created.

Further work is planned on the flooring, heating and seating.

Additionally, the church’s Breathing Space health and well-being project has helped more than 400 people over the last year, including the elderly, the homeless and addicts.

The project takes advantage of the church’s location next to a nature reserve to offer art and relaxation activities, along with lessons about wildlife.

Vicar the Reverend Canon Caroline Dick said: “The building has been transformed over the past two years, which has enabled the Breathing Space project to take flight.

“We always said that we wanted our work to include people on the margins of society and we have done that. The project has been a success and we have every confidence moving forward.”

Project worker Pam Barmby, who is soon leaving to live abroad, said: “The aim is to improve health and wellbeing and we have used the stillness of the beautiful 800-year-old church to bring that about, offering something that is often lacking in modern life as well as engaging with the outside areas surrounding the church.”

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