A COUPLE have thanked the army of volunteers who made sure their wedding could go ahead after roads surrounding the church were blocked by snow.

Rebecca McKenzie made it to St Cuthbert’s Church, at Benfieldside, near Shotley Bridge, Consett, in a 4x4 vehicle as the Beast for the East took hold on Wednesday.

Around 30 kind-hearted members of the community cleared the path, while local men cleared the roads using a tractor and a snow plough on a Land Rover.

The wedding, to Daniel Hodgson, who is from Shotley Bridge, went ahead, amid cheers from well-wishers, who lifted their snow shovels to form a guard of honour as the couple left.

The newlyweds, both 25, live in nearby Leadgate and have a three-year-old son.

Mr Hodgson said: “We just want to thank everyone from the local Shotley Bridge community for doing what they did for us, and the people who got Rebecca to the church from Beamish Hall.

“It was a wonderful day. Everyone had a great time.”

The wedding reception was held Beamish Hall Hotel, near Stanley, and on Thursday the newlyweds faced a treacherous journey home as they were towed through the snow by a Land Rover.

As well as contending with heavy snow on the roads, the church, which put out the appeal on social media, also had to bring in emergency heaters after the heating system failed.

Wedding photographer Sarah Thew has started a crowd funding campaign, which is being support by the couple, to help pay for the repairs and has already doubled her £200 target.

She said: “Please give as much as you can to help get some much needed funds for the church's heating bill.”

Reverend Martin Jackson, who led the service, said the church is facing a repair bill of almost £16,000.

He said: “We're really sorry that the heating has failed so catastrophically.

“It's one hole in a cast iron pipe but in the most inaccessible place possible, and follows on from a number of expensive repairs.

“There's no guarantee that there won't be more bursts to follow. So there won't be any quick fix, and we're reviewing options as to how to replace the whole system.

“We are very glad for this support now. We'll share later how we're doing, where we're going and what the big cost will be.

“The church is 168 years old, and the current pipework must have been in place most of that time.”