Annual Report and Accounts 2017

The Parochial Church Council of the Ecclesiastical Parish of Barnard Castle with Whorlton,

Diocese of Durham

1.       Introduction

This Report has been drawn up in accordance with the Charities Act 2011.


2.      Aims and purposes

St. Mary’s Barnard Castle with Whorlton Parochial Church Council (PCC) has the responsibility of co-operating with the incumbent, The Revd Canon Alec Harding, in promoting in the ecclesiastical parish, the whole mission of the church, pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical.


3.      Objectives and activities

The PCC is committed to enabling as many people as possible to worship and develop their faith in Jesus Christ through our parish life. Through its overview of worship and prayer, mission and outreach work, provision for developing discipleship and pastoral care the PCC acts to enable as many people as possible to be involved in the life of the parish. Services and worship put faith into practice through prayer, reflection on scripture, music and sacrament. Social activities seek to develop the community, and our use of our buildings encourages contact with the community and resources a wide range of community groups.


4.      Achievements and performance


4.1    Worship and prayer

      i.        An Open Door: Barnard Castle Church has a sign outside its front door that reads ‘Church Open: Visitors Welcome’. Whorlton Church has a similar sign. Both churches are visited both by parishioners and those from further afield; all comment on the warmth of welcome experienced both when the church is empty and at services.

    ii.        The service pattern remained unchanged other than that the monthly service of Evening Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer ceased at Barnard Castle in July.

   iii.        Church music making continues to draw in people to sing in the choir and support music making at festivals and special occasions.

   iv.        The ‘Four o’clock service’ has seen a dip in numbers this year but it is noticeable that the service is establishing a small core of families as ‘regular attenders’ and that hospitality after the service is much valued with the congregation valuing one another’s company. The Guiding organisations joined the service for ‘Thinking Day’ in February.

    v.        There were 206 on the Parish Electoral Roll. The usual Sunday attendance is 101 adults (across both churches) and 8 children, numbers that reflect the decrease in attendance at the Four o’clock service (fewer baptisms in 2017 than 2016) and the death of a number of older members of the congregation. The Easter attendance (all ages) was 214 (183 in 2016) and communicants numbered 142 (147 in 2016). In Advent 324 people attended services for the congregation with a further 680 attending school or civic services.  The Christmas attendance (all ages, including Christmas Eve) was 668 (629 in 2016) with communicants 195 (199 in 2016). 

   vi.        Worshipping community: There are approximately 215 people (all ages) in the worshipping community a decrease on the previous year

  vii.        The PCC enables the wider community to view different stages of life through the eyes of faith. This it does through its provision for the celebration of the occasional offices (Baptisms, weddings and funerals) and suitable instruction and pastoral care for those who seek these services. Whereas 2016 had been a bumper year for baptisms 2017 saw a marked increase in weddings and funerals

a)    Baptisms: The number of baptisms returned to a more manageable 19 across the parish.

b)   Confirmations: The parish offered 1 candidates for confirmation. The service took place at Middleton with the Bishop of Jarrow as the Confirming Bishop.

c)    Admissions to communion: there were 9 admissions to communion (3 at church, 6 in school).

d)   Weddings: 13 at Barnard Castle and 1 renewal of wedding vows .

e)   Funerals: 32 funerals were held in church, and there were 32 full services at the crematorium.


4.2    Mission and outreach

Music Making, Schools and Care Homes have become particular focusses for mission.

      i.        Music: The year saw a growth in connections made through the Community Music Group and the Community Choir. Financial assistance from local Councillors, the Diocese and the Marwood Trust enabled the Director of Music to co-ordinate engagement with schools within and beyond the town, to work with local Care Homes and other community music makers and to pull together a hugely successful Community Music event in June. Preceded by a concert in April and followed up by a Harvest tea with Care Home residents and the co-ordination of over 200 musicians for the Christmas Tree Festival this work has connected the church as equal partners to many others in the wider community seeking the wellbeing of all. It has not been difficult to see and announce signs of the Kingdom of God in this work.

    ii.        The opportunities to serve Green Lane CE School, Montalbo School and Teesdale school have stretched beyond ‘vicar’s assemblies’ (although these continue to take place).

a.    Music making has opened the schools to wanting to take part in church based activities: as this offer has increased support has come back to the church, so much so that all three schools held Carol services in church this year.

b.    At Green Lane CE School the ‘Big Story’ provision has led to it being used to train children for Admission to Communion: a small working party from the school and church visited a service at St. John’s Shildon, worked up a proposal for school and church to consider and then oversaw its delivery: a Communion service was held in school led by Year’s 5 & 6 in November with 6 children being admitted to communion at this event. A further service for Year 4 children will take place in the Spring term of 2018.

c.    Foundation Governors at Green Lane CE School played a key role in promoting a joint church/school twilight event with + John Pritchard investigating the role of religion in schools and what we mean by a church school’s Christian Ethos.

d.    Green Lane CE School bade a tearful farewell to Head Teacher Mrs Paula Ford at the end of the summer term. Mrs Ford has been a strong advocate for church/ school links, and has overseen a number of Outstanding Ofsted reports both at the school and in the Nursery and Teacher Training provision on site. Acting Head Teachers Nic Linsley and Alison Hartley oversaw the leadership of the school through the Autumn term (which included yet another excellent Ofsted inspection) as interviews for a new Head Teacher took place. The school will welcome Mr Rob Goffee as Head Teacher after Easter.

   iii.        Care Homes: As engagement with Care Homes through music making has increased there is an increased desire for residents to have the opportunity to ‘come to church’. The practicalities of this are considerable and need the help and goodwill of Care Staff but this has been forthcoming (subject to the restrictions of limited access to transport etc.). Older residents value attending ‘their church’. This, alongside the possibility of enhancing Care Home services through inviting congregation members to attend and help lift the singing, provides a way to embrace more people with hospitality of the Kingdom.

   iv.        Missional Leadership for Growth: The Vicar was part of the first cohort of clergy to attend MLG conferences. From this a small project arose: to go door to door on the new estate on Darlington Road offering residents information about the church and  a small prayer on a fridge magnet. A subsidiary leaflet offered the capacity of the church to help residents celebrate the completion of their new estate through working with church members to create an event of their own choosing.  Despite much trepidation the door to door visits took place on Pentecost Sunday. A team of nine were welcomed warmly on the door step and ‘covered’ the estate in half an hour. No further follow up was requested but the sense of acting ‘in the name of the church’ and of mission beyond the church doors was valuable.

The SMDT welcomed members of a team from Hartlepool to a discussion about mission in Barnard Castle

    v.        The PCC seeks to be as generous as possible in support of the wider mission of the diocese. This year it was able to give £68,512 in parish share, and in addition it gave 5% of its income (£5,220) to other causes.

   vi.        The Parish is one of the main contributors to the Durham FoodBank based at The Well is West Auckland. Donations are collected in church and delivered to The Well for distribution.


4.3    Developing discipleship

      i.        Bible study and fellowship were offered through a Lent series of studies, talks on the Book of Amos (given by David Walker) and an Autumn series that used ‘Godly Play’ stories to reflect on the themes of scripture.

    ii.        In Lent a ‘book exchange’ enabled parishioners to access Lent Books and church pew sheets included suggested forms for prayer.

   iii.        The Generous Giving Officer (Ms Rachael Philipps) visited the parish to preach in July.

   iv.        The PCC and SMDT continue to use the Dwelling in the Word practice at all of its meetings.

    v.        Some Sundays have been set aside to incorporate ‘silent prayer’ in place of the intercessions as a means of offering ourselves for God’s purposes in this place.

   vi.        The SMDT issued members of the congregation with postcards on which to record how they had noticed God’s activity in their daily lives. These were then used to create a display in church.


4.4    Pastoral Care

Through its activities and events the PCC seeks to create and support healthy relationships through which individuals can flourish both within and beyond the church.

      i.        Safeguarding of children & vulnerable adults: The PCC helped organise a Safeguarding Training event, renewed its safeguarding policies and ensured that Safeguarding appears on all PCC agendas.

    ii.         ‘Health and Safety’ is now a regular item of PCC agendas.

   iii.        The Friends of the Richardson Hospital enabled church members to take advantage of First Aid Training.

   iv.        The Vicar and a small team offer regular services in the local care homes. The Director of music also offers the chance for a ‘sing a long’ to residents and the Community Choir/ Music group occasionally rehearse at a Care Home enabling a bridge to be built between the homes and the church. A particular highlight was a request for a special service of celebration to mark the opening of the Charles Dickens Lodge: this took place in the lounge attended by residents and many members of the church congregation.


Social Events

    v.        Social events in the course of the year (arranged by the Parish or the Friends of St. Marys) have included church meals, Harvest events, organ recitals and concerts. The Castle Players performed ‘Victorian Values’ in the Parish Hall, North Country Theatre performed ‘Nightmares in Norfolk’. Barnard Castle Church hosted a ‘Poppy Appeal’ event and Guitar Festival concerts. Whorlton congregation organised a Hymns and Pimms event and a walk to Wycliffe (followed by tea and cake!) The Dalesiders offered a concert in Whorlton church.

   vi.        Barnard Castle Church hosted the Northern Group of Cambridge University Graduates for a conference, the U3A for a tour of the organ and the Northern Dales Richard III Group for a conference.

  vii.        The Biennial Christmas Tree Festival engaged 50 businesses and groups in sponsoring trees, embraced a number of schools and community music groups in providing musical support and welcomed increased numbers through the church doors to enjoy the spectacle. Despite there being no charge for entry the event was successful financially with generous support from the wider community. The Festival ended with a Wassail concert complete with a specially brewed Church Ale.

viii.        Heritage Open day was marked with a talk on the church organ by the Director of Music and access to the Church Tower to view the ringing chamber and clock room. The Bell ringers rang ¼ peels on the BBC Music day and in memory of a former bell ringer, Private Stanley Wilkinson who was killed in the First World War on 24th October 1917.



5.      The wider church and ministry:

a.       Barnard Castle Parish Church and Barnard Castle Methodist Church united for two services of worship in 2017.

b.       Revd John Moore was made a Freeman of the Barnard Castle in recognition of his service to the community at a ceremony in Barnard Castle School Chapel in  September. Rory Balfour (an ordinand) began a Sunday placement with the parish from Cranmer Hall in the Autumn.

c.       Churches Together: Meeting twice in the context of worship Churches Together planned its regular series of events (Lent and Advent lunches in support of Christian Aid, the Women’s World Day of Prayer Service, a Good Friday walk of Witness and the Christian Aid Week collection). The second of its meetings welcomed Ms Emma Peake from Christian Aid to mark the completion of the joint El Salvador/ Honduras project. Churches raised £5000 towards women’s sexual health projects, a sum matched by £15,000 from the European Union.

d.       Deanery: The parish appoints three lay members to Deanery Synod.

      i.        The Deanery year began with planning for the Diocese-wide Talking Jesus event: this saw the Archbishop of York, accompanied by Northern Bishops and their teams engaged in mission in almost every parish across the Diocese. Synod met with

+ Julian from Blackburn, established a programme of events and saw these through to a celebratory service in Durham Cathedral at the beginning of Lent.

    ii.        Safeguarding Training was offered in the Deanery at an event held in Barnard Castle Parish Hall.

   iii.        Synod learned of the possibilities of the Northern Heartlands project through a talk given by Graham Young.

   iv.        Synod discussions focussed around the possibility of Barnard Castle and Darlington Deaneries merging. A synod was held in Staindrop alongside Darlington synod members. Chapter members also met jointly in Gainford and parishes were consulted on their views. Parishes were by no means unanimous in welcoming the proposal. The issue has been passed back to Bishop’s Council, synod understanding that, if no merger is to take place, a Deanery Plan that addresses the likely reduction in stipendiary clergy numbers becomes ever more pressing.

    v.        The deanery had a presence at the Eggleston show in September.

   vi.        During the year Revd Claire Gibbs moved from the Gaunless Valley parishes (where, as curate, she had overseen the vacancy) to become Priest in Charge of the Stockton Country Parishes. The deanery was delighted to welcome the appointment of Revd Brian Whitley to the Gaunless Valley, his licensing taking place in September.

Revd Frances Cooper was ordained Deacon in Durham Cathedral and was appointed to serve her title in the parishes of Gainford and Winston.

  vii.        Parishes continue to offer as much share as possible towards the Diocesan Budget but this year’s offer was a reduction on that offered in 2016.

viii.        The Archdeacon of Auckland (The Venerable Nick Barker) retired from his post in the summer: deanery members were able to join with the diocese in thanking him for his ministry at a service in Durham Cathedral.


6.      Warden’s Report – Barnard Castle.

 i.          The Barnard Castle church west wall remains a serious concern as the outside of the wall has many cracks and water ingress is apparent. Organ equipment is housed high up on the west wall and any water ingress in this area could have serious implications for the functioning of the organ. The Church architects have been consulted and plans have been submitted to the DAC for work to be carried out. An HLF Lottery Bid is in preparation to help with the cost of this work.

  ii.          The stained-glass windows at Barnard Castle have been inspected and a specialist report produced by Jonathan and Ruth Cooke.  This report indicates that some urgent repairs are required.

 iii.          Repairs to the entrance to the carpark have been carried out. The cost of the works were covered by a grant from the local councillors.

 iv.          Work re-laying concrete outside the vestry door has also been completed.

  v.          Illegal parking within the church car park remains a problem. Legal opinion has been sought but rectifying the situation is fraught with legal issues and could be costly, so no major action on this has been deemed to be practicable.

 vi.          Several "church cleaning days” were arranged during the year and cleaning took place not only inside the church but also outside as many of the gutters and gullies become blocked with leaves and litter.

vii.          There is a need to improve display facilities for use at services that involve the use of projection equipment.  Costs to accomplish this have been sought and the DAC have been involved in this process.  Work on this continues as Faculty permission is sought.

viii.          Church vessels, documents and equipment have been checked. A new key inventory has been carried out.

ix.          The Parish Hall remains in the care of the Parish Hall Association. An electrical report on the whole building has been carried out and its recommendations fully implemented. The Main Hall has been redecorated.

x.          The wardens conducted a full review of Health and Safety provision.  Health and Safety is now a fixed item on PCC agendas. A Fire Drill was held on July 30th 2018.

7.         Warden’s Report – Whorlton.

    i.          The holly tree that threatened the electrical power lines to the rear of the church has been pruned by the electric company and the wood removed with the permission of the vicar.

  ii.          The jackdaw nesting material has been removed from the belfry.

 iii.          Volunteers continue to improve the condition of the churchyard

 iv.          The organ developed a few problems during the year, but these were rectified.

  v.          Work on the Church roof by was completed by Stone Services Ltd but during work, it was discovered more work was required to address damp at the East end of the Chancel.  This work was undertaken. As a result, the church was not available for Easter but services continued in the village hall. All work has been carried out successfully.

 vi.          During the year, the vicar indicated that the churchyard was nearly full and it was agreed that the formal process of closing the churchyard should begin. The Head of Durham County Council Bereavement Services visited the churchyard and certain conditions must be met before DCC will take on the care of the churchyard. These include repairs to the stonework adjacent to the lychgate and a check on the safety of memorial stones.

vii.          A check on grave memorials revealed that 23 headstones (out of a total of 323) are in need of some repair work, though none of them could be regarded as a high risk.

viii.          A civil burial ground, to be located behind the village hall has received Planning Permission

ix.          The PCC supported a request from the Civil Parish for the north-western corner of the churchyard wall to be chamfered to allow more room for access to the proposed civil graveyard. The request will not affect any graves or grave spaces.

  x.          The Village Hall is in the care of the Whorlton Village Association.


8. Structure, government and management

Members of the PCC are either ex-officio, elected or co-opted by the Annual Parochial Church Meeting [APCM], in accordance with the Church Representation Rules. The PCC may also co-opt up to two members (based on an elected membership of 12). In 2001 the PCC decided to adopt a rolling 3-year membership for elected members with a one-year absence before reconsideration for election, (date of completion of representation is shown in brackets below) The number of elected positions, currently 12, is governed by the number on the electoral roll. At its Annual Meeting in 2011 a motion was passed to limit the number of elected positions to an upper figure of 12.


As Charity Trustees PCC members are mindful of the Charity Commission’s Guidance on public benefit and, in particular, the specific guidance on charities for the advancement of religion. There are 19 members of the PCC

During the year the following served as members:


Incumbent & Chairman            Rev. Alec Harding

Readers                                   Mr. Astley Fenwick, Mr David Walker



Mr Dave Bailey (first elected April 2014)

Mr John Moore (first elected 2016)

Mrs Sandra Sumner (first elected 2016)

Mrs Joan Kemp Ambler (co-opted for one year from 2017)


Deanery Synod     Mrs Frances Stenlake (elected April 2017)

Mrs Annette Butters (elected April 2017)

Mr Astley Fenwick (co-opted 2017)


PCC Secretary      Mr David Walker

PCC Treasurer     Mr Robert Stenlake (elected 2017)


Elected Members (12 places)

 (Until APCM 2018)

Gordon Long

Susan Long

Malcolm Makepeace

Jennifer Gibson

John Rawlins

Catherine Wilkinson

(Until APCM 2019)

Alan Beaty


Until APCM 2020

Robert Stenlake

Annette Butters

Louise Hosey

Julian Taylor


The full PCC met 9 times in the year January to December 2017 with an average attendance of 12.5 (66%). The PCC operated through a number of committees, which met from time to time between full PCC meetings and reported back at the PCC. These were:


 8.1 Standing Committee: This is the only committee required by law. It has power to transact the business of the PCC meetings, subject to any directions given by the Council (e.g. authorise payments beyond those set in the PCC's budget.) The Standing Committee is comprised of the Incumbent, churchwardens, treasurer and secretary.

8.2 Fundraising and Social Committee (FunSoc) This committee's prime responsibility is to organise such social and fund-raising activities as the full PCC may direct.

8.3 Stewardship Committee: This committee meets occasionally and takes a lead in building regular Christian Giving into the life of the congregation and supports the work of the Treasurer and the Parish Office Team.

 8.4 Whorlton Committee: This committee looks after matters concerning the Whorlton area of the parish.

 8.5 The Shared Ministry Development Team: The Parish is a Shared Ministry Parish and was commissioned as such by the Bishop of Durham in September 2004. The SMDT work together to promote and encourage the various ministries of the congregation. The current team comprises Revd Harding, Allan Jones, David Walker, Joan Kemp-Ambler, Fiona Douglas and Beverley Pilcher.

8.6 Windows on the World: The PCC established a small working group to take forward an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for work on Barnard Castle Church.



Sidesmen appointed at the APCM 2017 were  

Dorothy Brown, Stephen Carter, Barbara Fletcher, Mike Hanby, Iris Hillery, Allan Jones, Joan Kemp-Ambler, Malcolm Makepeace, Keith and Margaret Miles, Ursula Munnerley, John and Sue Peat, Sandra and David Sumner, Bessie Surtees – Dawson, Allan Thomas, John Trevett, John and Jenny White, Colin and Hilary Dunnighan, Louise Hosey, John Rawlins, Ray Alexander, Dianne Mitchell, Catherine Wilkinson, Rosemary McGarr, Sue Harris and Doreen Moore