Annual Report and Accounts 2016


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, 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.       All are welcome to attend any of the services in the parish. The Parish policy of seeking to ensure that the church is open during daylight hours is much appreciated: visitors leave positive comments in both the Visitors’ Book and in a comment book by the church labyrinth, and written prayers are left for use in public worship. Votive candles are also appreciated and a sign that the building is used by those seeking comfort and strength through prayer.  The parish service patter has remained unchanged during the year.  

   ii.       At Barnard Castle Mrs Annette Butters has worked to revitalise and broaden the church’s musical provision and reach: work supporting the establishment of a school choir at Green Lane has borne some fruit and occasional choirs and a community music group have welcomed more music makers into the life of the church. The Barnard Castle Carol service pulled together the gifts church members and those on the fringes of church life in a memorable celebration.

 iii.       The informal ‘Four o’clock service’ has seen a fluctuation in numbers that has reflected the large number of baptisms conducted in the year. It still acts as the parish’s main liturgical link with those with young families.

  iv.      The parish celebrated its 150th anniversary – until 1866 being art of the old Gainford parish. The Shared Ministry Development Team researched some of the history of the last 150 years and, through an exhibition highlighted the role of the church in the life of the town at a very successful Heritage Open Day which also saw the Tower opened and the Bell Ringing Team erecting a ‘ring of bells’ in the church. John Emerson gave a commentary to a slide show about ‘Old Barney.’

    v.         The PCC held a number of ‘special services’ in the course of the year both at Barnard Castle and at Whorlton: a ‘Volunteers’ service’ was co-ordinated in collaboration with the Town Mayor and saw the church filled with those giving thanks for the work of volunteers in the Dale. Two joint services were held with Barnard Castle Methodist Church.  In the summer the church joined in the Town’s Armed Forces Weekend events through taking part in the Aviation Day commemoration, an exhibition in church, a renewal of marriage vows celebration and a Parade service. The newly elected Mayor opted to support the church Christingle service which attracted many local dignitaries in support of the Childrens’ Society.

  vi.      Members of the Mothers’ Union attended the Diocesan 140th anniversary celebrations at the Cathedral. Members of the congregation attended the installation of the new Dean of Durham: The Very Revd Andrew Tremlett. A pulpit swap within the deanery took place in July. In September an event was held to remember the 5 Smith Brothers who lost their lives in the First World War:  a short ceremony was held at the war Memorial.

vii.      Bishop Paul led worship at both Whorlton and Barnard Castle in the middle of February.

viii.    There were 202 on the Parish Electoral Roll. The usual Sunday attendance is 95adults (across both churches) and 10 children, down from 108 adults and 21 children in 2015. The Easter attendance (all ages) was 183 (193 in 2015) and communicants numbered 147 (133 in 2015). The Christmas attendance (all ages, including Christmas Eve) was 629 (697 in 2015) with communicants 199 (217 in 2015). 

  ix.      Worshipping community: There are approximately 225 people (all ages) in the worshipping community. Four adults from the congregation died during the year, 5 moved away.  Thirteen adults and 5 children joined the congregation.

    x.     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.

a)    Baptisms: There were an unusual number of baptisms (49) in the parish, a marked increase on previous years

b)   Confirmations: The parish offered 6 candidates for confirmation, 1adult and 5 young people.

c)    Admissions to communion: there were 0 admissions to communion prior to confirmation

d)   Weddings: 3 at Barnard Castle, 2 at Whorlton.

e)    Funerals: 32 funerals were held in church, there were 17 full services at the crematorium.


4.2     Mission and outreach

     i.      Church growth continues to be a major focus for the PCC and SMDT. The Diocesan desire for ‘Parish Plans’ led directly to work with the Town Mayor (Volunteers service/ Christingle and the Armed Forces weekend). The SMDT’s work on the Parish’s 150th anniversary also included a Timeline exercise to help the congregation to reflect on its story. The Vicar’s involvement with the Diocesan Partners for Missional Church programme is shaping an approach to mission that seeks to engage with partners in the community as ‘people of peace’. The PCC have been reflecting on Luke 10 at each of their meetings as mission becomes a priority.

   ii.       Whorlton church held a spring walk and tea which were warmly received. An All Saints Day event at Whorlton was not well attended but creatively offered the chance to reflect on old family photographs. The Queen’s 90th birthday Celebrations were marked by a Flower Festival at Whorlton that charmed the village. (At Barnard Castle a peel of bells heralded the celebration). The popular Hymns and Pimms event was repeated at Whorlton.

 iii.       Whilst very few children attend regular Sunday worship the church’s main work with Children and Young people continues to be through its involvement with Green Lane CE School. A small team continue to lead weekly ‘Godly Play’ sessions and the school’s Foundation Governors are active in school life. Alongside the schools well established visits to the church for services a collaboration between the church Director of Music and the school resulted in a performance of Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Coat in church by a 48 strong choir of adults and children before a congregation of 140.

  iv.      The Vicar now leads Collective Worship weekly at both Green Lane CE School and Montalbo. Changes in the leadership of Teesdale School have also opened up the possibility of leading assemblies once in a while at the secondary school.

    v.      In the Autumn term the school Christian Ethos Committee decided to investigate the possibility of preparing whole classes to receive communion before confirmation. An exploratory trip to St. John’s Shildon is planned to inform the committee’s decision making.

  1. 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 £65,250 in parish share, in addition it gave 5% of its income to other causes. The PCC joins with other churches in town to provide Lent and Advent lunches in support of Christian Aid and to collect during Christian Aid Week. The local churches have now raised over £4000 towards a target of £5,000 for work promoting sexual health in El Salvador and Honduras: this sum will be matched by EU funding 3:1.
  2. A Labyrinth event was held at Barnard Castle in June. A small event based on the Bowes’ Museum purchase of St Luke painting the Virgin and Child by Bouts presented an opportunity to engage with the museum in a new way.
  3. The Durham FoodBank continues to be well supported by the congregation. Changes to banking provision for the Credit Union militated against the need for a regular office provision in the town so this came to an end.


4.3     Developing discipleship

     i.      The Pilgrim course continued to be used for developing discipleship in the parish. The Churches Together Lent lectures were given by Judith and David Walker Hutchinson. Throughout the Autumn a small group used a bespoke study called ‘we are here now’ in an attempt to step back from parish life and to ask where we see God at work in the church and (indeed) wider community.

   ii.      The Deanery Confirmation service took place at Barnard Castle on Ascension Day and was led by the Assistant Bishop David Stancliffe.

 iii.      Dinner Group talks have been given by the Town Mayor (Sandra Moorhouse), representatives of The Samaritans, Revd Alison Wallbank (Assistant Priest in the Upper Dale) and Karenza Passmore (Film and Faith) amongst others. The group meets at The Red Well, Harmire Road and attracts a range of people.

  iv.     Barnard Castle church provides a regular Junior Church for the small number of children who attend morning worship: Frances Stenlake and Kim Harding faithfully prepare material to enable there to be age appropriate learning for children in church. The Smuffies Under Five group continues to offer a place for carers to meet with their young children.

    v.     A major Stewardship exercise was completed using ‘Giving in Grace’ material from Liverpool Diocese.


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 renewed its safeguarding policies. Safeguarding appears on all PCC agendas as a matter of course.

   ii.      Social events in the course of the year (arranged by the Parish or the Friends of St. Marys) have included church meals, Harvest events, a Ceilidh, organ recitals and concerts. The Castle Players performed Pride and Prejudice in the parish hall. The Dalesiders performed a Christmas concert at Whorlton Church which was well received.

 iii.       All of the town’s care homes host regular acts of worship for residents – two members of the Shared Ministry Development Team now share in this ministry.

  iv.     A dementia awareness session was held after morning worship at Barnard Castle in May.


5.      The wider church:

Churches Together: 2016 saw the closure of the United Reformed Church in Hall Street. It was decided, with limited support from the Roman Catholic parish and the withdrawal of The Friends through lack of numbers that Churches Together should no longer organise itself through a committee. In 2017 there will be two joint acts of worship through which joint work will be promoted.

Deanery: The parish appoints three lay members to Deanery Synod. The synod has spent a considerable amount of time framing a deanery plan. Continued problems balancing the Diocesan budget suggest a further reduction in clergy numbers and a possible merger with Darlington Deanery.  The deanery welcomed Revd Eileen Harrop to work in Gainford & Winston (50%) and alongside Bishop Auckland parish (50%) and its work with the Auckland Castle Trust.


6.      Wardens’ report Barnard Castle:

     i.        Following the latest quinquennial report, there were requirements to do essential repairs on the roof of the church tower.  A substantial grant was obtained from the Listed Places of Worship fund to achieve these repairs and the work was carried out and completed in 2016.

   ii.         A ‘Beetle’ inspection of the woodwork took place in the tower and fortunately no infestation of any kind was found.  However, the recommendation was that once the tower repairs were completed, the ceiling in the clock room would be removed (which is in a poor state of repair) to enable a more thorough investigation to take place. This work is yet to be done.

 iii.         A requirement of the Ecclesiastical Insurance is that a comprehensive check is made to the tower lightning conductor.  This not only failed its test, but was not up to the required standard.  This was rectified and we now have a certificate indicating that the lightning conductor is both fully functional and also meets the required standard.

  iv.         The 20-year-old sound system within the church was showing signs poor performance and, as the equipment was old, suffered from interference from modern day equipment (mobile phones etc.).  Several donations were received following an appeal and a new system was installed giving much better performance and reliability.  In particular, the lectern microphone was converted to a radio system allowing the microphone to be used with the lectern relocated if necessary.

    v.         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.

  vi.         Annette Butters, who took up the organist’s role in November 2015 has made a substantial contribution to the music, not only within the church, but beyond as well.  As a result of her considerable efforts, Annette has been promoted to “Organist & Director of Music”

vii.         Various works were carried out by Durham County Council (DCC), including:-

a.    Attending to overhanging branches of the willow by the vestry door.

b.    Attention to trip hazards on the north path from the main church door to the vestry.

c.    Repointing work on the western wall of the church yard.

viii.         The pricket stand money box was damaged by vandals and has now been repaired.

  ix.         Church vessels, documents, keys and equipment have been checked.

    x.         The Barnard Castle church west wall remains a serious concern as the outside of the wall has many cracks and water ingress is very apparent from the inside as paint is flaking badly.  Also, some of the 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. This is an ongoing project and is hoped to be addressed in 2017.  The west wall paint is in a state of serious decay and as a temporary measure this was cleared and was coated with suitable paint.

  xi.         The Parish Hall remains in the care of the Parish Hall Association. The Association was granted permission by the PCC to install solar panels on the roof.  These have now been installed and are fully operational. Legal documentation concerning the permissions has been filed.


7. Warden’s report Whorlton

     i.         Work on some of the trees in the churchyard was completed at the beginning of the year

   ii.         The PCC appointed Mr George Stastny as the church architect and authorised him to carry out the church Quinquennial Inspection. Mr Stastny’s report was presented to the PCC which addressed its major issues and a specification for works was put out to tender in the Autumn.

 iii.         Stone Technical services won the tender process for works on the church roof and on the chancel arch. Villagers responded generously to a Harvest time appeal for funds towards the work, raising over half the cost of the work.

  iv.         Faculty permission was sought and granted for the church’s chalice and paten to be loaned to The Bowes Museum for an exhibition of the work of Bill Chaytor, the silversmith.

    v.         The wardens alerted Northern Electric of the danger posed by a holly tree in the churchyard to the power lines stretching from Whorlton Hall.

  vi.         Whorlton Hall has also been informed of the poor state of the fence at the eastern end of the churchyard.

vii.         An inspection of the leaded windows in the vestry was carried out by Stained Glass specialist Ruth Cooke. The advice received was that no remedial work was required.

viii.         Volunteers continue to help keep the churchyard in good order and the church clean. Thanks go to them and to Miss Jean Tallentire who offers her services in playing the organ.

  ix.         The organ was tuned in time for the Christmas services.


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.

During the year the following served as members:



Incumbent & Chairman            Rev. Alec Harding

Readers                                  Mr. Astley Fenwick, Mr David Walker


Mrs Ann Woodward (till April 2016)

Mrs Margaret Miles (till April 2016)

Mr John Emerson (elected April 2013)

Mr Dave Bailey (elected April 2014)

Mr John Moore (first elected 2016)

Mrs Sandra Sumner (first elected 2016)


Deanery Synod      Mrs Frances Stenlake (elected April 2014)

Mr Astley Fenwick (elected 2014)

Mr Keith Miles (elected April 2014)


PCC Secretary      Mr David Walker

PCC Treasurer      Mr Robert Stenlake (co-opted 2016)


Elected Members

(Until April 2016)

Sue Peat

Robert Stenlake

Louise Hosey (co-opted)


(Until APCM 2017)

Debbie Steel

Jean Tallentire

Catherine Wilkinson

(Until APCM 2018)

Gordon Long

Susan Long

Malcolm Makepeace

Belinda Thompson

Joan Kemp-Ambler

Jennifer Gibson

John Rawlins

(Until APCM 2019)

Alan Beaty




The full PCC met 10 times in the year January to December 2016 with an average attendance of 13-14 (62%). 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.



Sidesmen appointed at the APCM 2016 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.