The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, visited Middlesbrough and the Cleveland Hills in the north east of the Diocese of York on Monday 27th November.

At Marwood Church of England Infant School, Great Ayton (pictured), he joined pupils for their morning worship and then visited all three classes, and made his own contribution to the school's project for peace which is inspired by the hymn "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me", in which pupils, staff and governors are painting words, pictures and ideas on stones which it is hoped will form a permanent public feature in the village on a site to be identified with the help of the Parish Council.

Archbishop Stephen met members of the Trinity Group, made up of two representatives from each of the school's classes, which plays a leading role in the spiritual aspects of the school's life. Marwood School has been described by Ofsted as 'the hub of the community' and in its Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools as 'a welcoming Christian family community with a strong spiritual and moral compass.'

Archbishop Stephen enjoyed a light lunch at the Pomegranate Persian Tea Room in Great Ayton, whose owners Hamideh and Massoud Qafouri sought asylum in the UK and now spread the word of Iranian cuisine in the community of which they have become a valued part.

Travelling to a former hub of Cleveland industry at Skinningrove, Archbishop Stephen visited the recently re-launched 'Land of Iron' museum which stands on the site of Loftus Mine, the first mine to open in Cleveland, and celebrates the legacy of ironstone mining and the broader industrial heritage of the region. The area now known as the Tees Valley was the powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution and the British Empire; her 83 ironstone mines dispatched iron worldwide, forming the fabric of railways and bridges across Europe, America, Africa, India and Australia.

Fr Adam Gaunt, Chair of Trustees at the Land of Iron, and Marie Woods, Chief Executive, showed the Archbishop how the museum preserves, promotes and celebrates the heritage of the iron and steel eras and to tell the stories of the people who made Cleveland the economic force it was. As well as touring the areas of the Loftus Mine that are still accessible, the Archbishop toured a new state-of-the-art exhibition that features artefacts and items that highlight the area’s industrial and social histories.

Archbishop Stephen continued to the James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, to meet Chaplain the Revd Lisa Opala and spend some time visiting staff and public around the wards before sharing an evening meal and a meeting with church and community members at Holy Trinity Church and the Trinity Centre, North Ormesby. The Revd Bridget Woodall, vicar of Holy Trinity, presented the Archbishop with a wreath made by children from the church.

Archbishop Stephen Cottrell said, "Middlesbrough and Cleveland are such great places to live although for some people life can be tough - I've enjoyed seeing town, country and coast, and getting a better picture of the proud history of the generations of people who came here and did so much to build and to power the industrial past. But the present is full of hope and promise too - I've met children and parents, health workers and community leaders, creative and entrepreneurial people all helping to shape a vibrant and caring future in Cleveland, and it's hugely encouraging to see the church and faith communities playing their part in that."

Photos of the day can be found on the Diocese of York’s Flickr: