New service for parishioners

THANK heavens!Parishioners at St Mary the Virgin Church in Otley are being offered a different kind of service today.No longer will worshippers have to make a mad dash home if they find themselves caught short.

THANK heavens!

Parishioners at St Mary the Virgin Church in Otley are being offered a different kind of service today.

No longer will worshippers have to make a mad dash home if they find themselves caught short.

For after 900 years, the medieval church finally has running water and a toilet – at a cost of around £48,000.

Before the renovations, men, women and children alike used to have little choice but to go home if they needed to use the toilet.

Serving refreshments was only possible if dedicated helpers brought in the water and took home the washing up.

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But to the delight of its users, the church has now been brought into the Twenty-First Century –

The parishioners will now have all the benefits of a modern kitchen, disabled toilet and new heaters.

The church marked this momentous occasion with a special service of blessing and thanksgiving for the new facilities and decoration led by the Bishop of Dunwich, the Right Reverend Clive Young.

Giving the sermon yesterday , he said: "The parish has modern facilities in a modern church.

"It is hospitable, welcoming and everybody can relax. It is a community building.

"There has been commitment to see that water flows into this church and flows out again."

Priest-in-charge Reverend Joy Rapley was only too pleased with the new facilities.

She said: "It is great. We have a kitchen and we have an outside disabled toilet.

"People come to a wedding or a funeral and they might have come from a long way – it was very difficult when there are no facilities.

"There was no running water – we had to bring the water for a cup of coffee and take the washing up home.

"We could have things going on all day – like the flower festival – and people would just have to rush home and back again.

"There are no public toilets nearby."

Work for the new kitchen and toilet was started in August, and was made possible by the people of Otley raising around £22,000.

The rest of the cost was covered by Parochial Church Council funds.

In addition to the kitchen and toilet, the path lights have been reconnected and an overflow pipe has been installed to stop water from the pond flooding the path.

St Mary's has also been totally redecorated inside – the first time since the 1950s.

The decoration, which cost around £8,000, was paid for by the Otley Church Preservation Trust.

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