Church ups security after toddler escape

Reverend Eddy Wilkinson outside St Matthews Church Hall, Front Street,, Newbottle.
Reverend Eddy Wilkinson outside St Matthews Church Hall, Front Street,, Newbottle.
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A VICAR has vowed to make safety changes after a toddler managed to run out into the road from a church hall.

As revealed in the Echo earlier this month, two-year-old Lee Wilkinson slipped through unlocked doors and out on to Front Street, Newbottle, while attending toddler group The Little Rascals at St Matthew’s Church.

A bolt had been left off an inside door after a revamp, which Reverend Edward Wilkinson said was down to fire safety.

But after a church meeting following Lee’s escape, a door lock will be fitted.

Rev Wilkinson said: “We had a church community meeting about what happened, and this is what has been decided.

“As part of the refurbishment an exterior door lock is to be fitted.”

The toddler group was suspended and has now moved from the church hall with members claiming they were giving short notice to leave and return their keys.

Group leader Denise Eden, 55, said she faced a rush to get their things out.

She said: “My friend’s son has had to cancel a hospital appointment because we needed the car to move the stuff out of the church hall.

“We went up there with two little cars to try and get as much of the things into them as possible. We would have liked someone with a van to help us really, but we didn’t know anyone.”

Reverend Wilkinson said: “We did not ask them to leave on that day, just as soon as possible.

“Then, when the locks are changed, we told them who to contact so they could be let into the building to collect whatever was left.

“We are not forcing them out, and we do not want people to think we are forcing them out.”

The Little Rascals Toddler group now runs from The Russell Forster Centre, Stadon Way.

Twitter: @Monica_Turnbull