A community will come together on Sunday to celebrate the success of a six-year improvements campaign.
School pupils, local groups and parishioners were all involved in the £57,000 project to upgrade the grounds of St Mary’s Parish Church, in Church Row, West Rainton, while also
highlighting the village’s rich history.
The scheme’s culmination will be marked at the church’s annual Big Lunch from 1pm.
Weather permitting, hundreds of villagers are expected to picnic in the grounds while listening to music from a steel band and enjoying other attractions such as a display of animals. It
will officially open at 1.30pm with pupils from West Rainton Primary School leading a procession underneath a balloon arch along the church’s improved path.
At the side of the path are new information boards outlining the village’s past.
Church secretary Annabel Burns said: “It is all about celebrating our past while looking to the future.
“The work was completed in the winter but we thought it was best to wait until the summer to celebrate its completion.
“We are really pleased with the way the path looks as it was quite dangerous before with potholes.”
The church worked with the school, West Rainton and Leamside Parish Council, West Rainton and Leamside History Group and West Rainton Youth Group to complete the project.
About £34,000 came from Durham County Council’s community chest with the remainder provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
As part of the scheme, 5,000 copies of a new West Rainton and Leamside Discovery Trail were printed.
Researched and published by the history group, the leaflet pinpoints 26 areas of interest to visit in the adjoining villages.
Group chairman Gail Hudson said: “It’s full of interesting facts about street names, pubs from the past and how the church ended up with a piece from the Great Pyramid of Giza.”
The Big Lunch concludes with a church service at 4.30pm to mark the feast of Pentecost.