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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Reverend rejoices at plan to transform Barrow church into cafe

A PROJECT is taking shape to revitalise a disused church as a community cafe.

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CHURCH REVAMP The Reverend Gary Cregeen believes turning St Aidan’s Church into a cafe will help it stay at the centre of the Newbarns community JON GRANGER REF: 50057503B000

A PROJECT is taking shape to revitalise a disused Barrow church as a community cafe.

The team at St Aidan’s Church in Barrow also plan to revamp the adjoining church hall as part of a £160,000 scheme.

The Newbarns church, which was consecrated in December 1967, has been mothballed since October 2011 due to problems with the roof.

Under the ambitious plans, the building will become a cafe in a bid to provide the estate with a meeting place to enjoy soft drinks and snacks.

Since the church closed, a growing congregation of more than 35 people gather for Sunday worship in the church hall. The hall will continue to host the service, but will also be revamped so greater use can be made of the space.

The hall, which was dedicated in 1952, is a community asset used for parties and family gatherings, zumba classes, indoor balls, Brownies, Rainbows, The Pulse youth club an the Abbey Musical Society.

The Reverend Gary Cregeen, team rector of South Barrow and Rural Dean of Barrow, arrived in town around the time of the church mothballing.

He said he noticed the church was the only place for community gathering in Newbarns and wanted to make it the true hub of the estate.

Mr Cregeen said: “As somebody coming in here new, it gave me the opportunity to take stock as to what was our primary purpose was as a church. And that was trying to envision and inspire people with a project to make the church ‘fit for purpose’.

“The fact that its at the heart of Newbarns, and the church has a heart for Newbarns and its people, means that we want to provide something that can be a blessing to the community.”

Mr Cregeen recognises the challenge of raising the money, but is confident that once the plans take shape and people can be “envisioned”, that they will help. In addition to local fundraising, the PCC is making grant applications.

Mr Cregeen also plans to integrate parts of St Luke’s Church, which is now closed for good, into the building.

A community survey on the plans runs until January 9 and copies are available in Ocean Fish Bar in Lesh Lane.

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