A CHURCH which has been a place of love, worship and friendship for 150 years is marking the milestone with a special flower festival.

St Andrew’s Church in Dawson Street, Crook, was built in 1868 and quickly established itself as a vibrant community hub.

It originally started out purely as a methodist church but in 2009 members of the united reform church joined the friendly congregation. And when other methodist churches in the area had to close, such as Tow Law and Wooley Terrace in Stanley Crook, their congregations were also welcomed.

As the 150th anniversary approaches, the church is hosting a series of celebratory events, along with guest preachers with a special connection to St Andrew’s.

This weekend, the building has been transformed into a floral masterpiece inspired by the church’s rich heritage and the important role it plays in community life.

Co-ordinated by Kathryn Hume, of Forget Me Not Flower Designers and Flower School in Bishop Auckland, it features more than 20 colourful displays created by Ms Hume, church members and other talented volunteers. Their creations celebrate everything from weddings, Sunday service and the choir, to Sunday school outings, craft groups, Rainbows and Brownies. There is also a display commemorating the First and Second World Wars.

Ms Hume said: “The central theme is the church calendar, so we looked at the different seasons and celebrated them with our choice of colours and textures. We then looked at the groups who use the church and the people who make it special.”

Dorothy White, who has worshipped at St Andrew’s for more than 50 years, worked on a display with her friend, Edna March, inspired by the church’s welcoming atmosphere.

“The church is very welcoming,” she said. “All the people you meet over the years and the friendships you make here shape your life. It’s wonderful.”

The festival was opened last night by Baroness Hillary Armstrong and Jean Cowing JP. It remains open today, from 10am to 4pm, and tomorrow, from 1pm to 3pm. Admission is £3 for adults and free for children. There will also be stalls, refreshments and a raffle.