DIGNITARIES and clergymen from across the North-East and beyond have helped a church celebrate its 150th anniversary.

More than 150 people attended a special mass at St William’s Roman Catholic Church in Trimdon Village, County Durham, yesterday (Saturday, June 7).

Sue Snowdon, the Lord Lieutenant of Durham, Councillor John Robinson, chairman of Durham County Council, and Phil Wilson, MP for Sedgefield, were among those present at the service, led by the Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, Seamus Cunningham.

Held the day before St William’s Day, so as not to clash with Pentecost Sunday, the mass was part of a year long series of events and services to mark the anniversary.

Earlier this year, children from St William’s RC Primary School presented a blessing from Pope Francis during a mass led by parish priest Father Shaun Swales.

This time around the youngsters performed a dance, as well as contributing items to a time capsule, which will be buried in the church.

Trimdon and Thornley councillor Peter Brookes, chairman of the 150th anniversary committee, said: “It was a great day and wonderful to see so many people come together to celebrate the anniversary and pay their respects to our Catholic forefathers.

“We were supposed to have a garden party afterwards and had marquees set up ready but, unfortunately, the rain was too heavy so we had to stay indoors.

“We didn’t let it dampen our spirits though and everyone rallied round to move the benches and clear a space in the church. A good time was had by all.”

Many former members of the congregation who have moved to pastures new also returned for the service.

Among them was Dom Cuthbert Brogan, who is originally from Trimdon and now an abbot at Farnham in Surrey.

Representatives from other nearby churches of many Christian denominations also attended, including John Burton, the constituency aid for former Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

Other activities taking place to mark the 150th anniversary include a concert by a male voice choir and a pilgrimage to York to see St William’s tomb.

A plaque listing the names of all the parish priests who have served the parish from the 1860s onwards has also been put up in the church.