A CHURCH project designed to get schoolchildren gardening has won national recognition and brought investment into a County Durham town.

Saint John’s Church initiative Shildon Alive!, in Shildon, has been handed an award by the Church Times and a cheque of £1,000 to continue its work involving hundreds of youngsters.

Volunteers were given the Green Congregation title at the Green Church Awards in London.

In a message to the finalists, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “Responding to climate change is an essential part of our responsibility to safeguard God’s creation.

“The dedication and devotion of those shortlisted for the Green Church Awards is extraordinary and their recognition well deserved.”

Paula Nelson manages the project which has seen schools in Shildon and more than 800 children and young people get involved with gardening.

Adult volunteers have now been trained in leading sessions and plantings.

These sessions have included work such as ‘the bear bench’ in the Timothy Hackworth Park which has sparked interest in the town.

Commending the project’s success, Shildon town councillor Samantha Townsend said: “I feel amazingly lucky to live in the same town as Shildon Alive.”