A time for looking back - and forward

Norman Barker and Canon Owen Page at the celebrations
Norman Barker and Canon Owen Page at the celebrations

A WEEKEND of celebrations were held at St Mary’s Church, Todmorden, to mark the 20th anniversary of its rededication.

A wine and cheese preview event on Friday evening began a weekend in which visitors were invited to visit the church to enjoy refreshments, some entertainment and displays which told the story of how around £350,000 was raised largely by church members in just five years to ensure the renovation went ahead, re-opening on September 7, 1992, in time for the following day’s feast of St Mary, after whom the church is named.

A major aim was to make the church building as accessible to the community as possible, an aim which has been achieved and will be built on, said Vicar of Todmorden, Canon Owen Page.

Canon Page welcomed back to town Canon Peter Calvert, who was vicar at the time as a special guest on a weekend which culminated with the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Rev Stephen Platten celebrating a choral communion at the church and staying for a Jacob’s Join lunch.

The Saturday of the celebrations was marked with an open day which included a coffee morning, afternoon tea and an exhibition which told the story of how the church was remodelled with the aim of making it a hub of the community right in the heart of the town.

A well-attended buffet supper in the evening was followed by short talks from Canon Calvert, who recalled the ups and downs beofre and during the reorganisation and reconstruction work, and Canon Page, who discussed the role of nostalgia and the task of looking forward to the church’s role in the future.

Canon Page said: “The weekend went fantastically well. Every bit of it was a great sccess. Around 100 people called in to see the exhibition or relax with us and another 80 were there in the evening, where Incredible Edible Todmorden members prepared us a meal. On Sunday, Bishop Stephen came and we also welcomed the uniformed organisations - beavers, brownies, rainbows, cubs and scouts - to the service which saw about 200 people filling the church.

“We looked at the reasons for the work being done 20 years go, making the church more of a community building, as now, with all the community groups using it, and the future, where we want even more people to use it.”

Canon Calvert said: “It doesn’t seem like 20 years ago. I remember when the roof was off and a wall down, someone said ‘don’t sneeze or the lot will fall down!’”