“It was fantastic to experience lots of people gathered together, praying for what the future holds and wishing the whole project well,” said Bishop of Whitby Paul Ferguson after cutting the first turf for the new St Hilda’s Church and Community Centre on the corner of Mersey Road and Roseberry Road, Kirkleatham, Redcar, on the 11th February.

The new building will replace the 1970 church that had to be demolished due to serious structural issues; despite this setback, the church will be back with a new and flexible building to help its outreach and involvement in its community.

“People here in Kirkleatham have done great work getting this off the ground,” added Bishop Paul.

“There is fantastic potential here for people to use this new centre for worship and for community events and so on.”

Funded in part by proceeds from the development of part of the old church site,by a grant of £80,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund and by £100,000 from The Mercers' Company, the new St Hilda’s will host a cafĂ©, drop-in centre, social activities, healthy issues clinic, foodbank, benefits advice and signposting, parent and toddler group, youth group and charity shop, as well as facilities available for hire and for use by other local groups.

Vicar of Kirkleatham the Revd Matt Strand said, “The new church will make it clear that we’re part of the community and not hidden away in the corner!

“It will be a community centre with a church as part of it – we believe as Christians that we’re not here to separate worship from the rest of life.

“We hope that Bishop Paul will be back to open the new church later this year, and that we can then get on serving our community.”

Kirkleatham continues to be served by its historic Parish Church of St Cuthbert, but in recent months the community of St Hilda's has been meeting for worship at The Dunes on Low Farm Drive.

The new building will be constructed by Wharton Construction of Darlington, and is expected to be ready by early November 2020.