Rain can’t stop Great Community Passion celebrating mining heritage

PASSION PLAY: Shopping trolleys became coal trucks for the Great Community Passion. Picture: Keith Blundy.

PASSION PLAY: Shopping trolleys became coal trucks for the Great Community Passion. Picture: Keith Blundy.

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HUNDREDS of people turned to a spot of retail therapy with a difference to commemorate Sunderland’s mining heritage today.

More than 300 people packed St Matthew’s Church in Silksworth to be part of the Great Community Passion.

STILL RELEVANT: Rev Susie Thorp talks on the passion of the community at each trolley station. Picture: Keith Blundy.

STILL RELEVANT: Rev Susie Thorp talks on the passion of the community at each trolley station. Picture: Keith Blundy.

In a passion play with a twist, 14 shopping trolleys had been turned into coal trucks and decorated to depict the 14 stations of the cross.

The event was originally planned to be held outdoors, but was moved inside the church when the rainy weather intervened.

The trolleys laid out to form the shape of the cross were brought into the church after the pews were hurriedly removed in order for the event to go ahead.

Groups decorated the shopping trolleys as coal trucks to take part The Great Community Passion, organised by the Church of England parishes of Silksworth and Doxford in the Diocese of Durham.

We wanted to spark interest, so we encouraged people to be creative with their designs - I think it has been very successful.

Reverend David Tolhurst

Reverend David Tolhurst, vicar of St Matthew’s, said: “The amount of work that has been done by the community in putting this passion play together is quite incredible.

“That is not just the decoration of the trolleys, but here today getting the church ready despite the late change of plans due to bad weather.

“The local colliery closed more than 40 years ago, but people who live here still consider themselves part of a colliery community.

“We thought it would be a good idea to decorate the trolleys as coal trucks.

YOUNG AND OLD: Community visitors examine the art installation at St Matthew's Church. Picture: Keith Blundy.

YOUNG AND OLD: Community visitors examine the art installation at St Matthew's Church. Picture: Keith Blundy.

“We wanted to spark interest, so we encouraged people to be creative with their designs - I think it has been very successful.”

The passion play tells the story of the last few hours of Jesus’s life, using the trolley art installations to depict the story.

Co-organiser the Reverend Susie Thorp, priest in charge of Doxford St Wilfrid, said: “This is a different way to tell a very familiar story, linking it to what it means to us today.

“Jesus’s story of his journey to the cross was 2,000 years ago, so what we hoped to do was to show how relevant it still is to everyone today.

ORGANISERS: Rev Susie Thorp and Rev David Tolhurst at St Matthew's Church in Silksworth, Sunderland. Picture: Keith Blundy.

ORGANISERS: Rev Susie Thorp and Rev David Tolhurst at St Matthew's Church in Silksworth, Sunderland. Picture: Keith Blundy.

“This has really turned into a community-wide activity, it’s amazing.

“When you go and look at the coal trucks, so many people have added ideas to them in their own special way.

“The schools that have been involved have managed to get all their students doing something towards this tremendous community effort - the whole community has been involved and that shows real passion!”

The original idea came from the BBC Great North Passion, which took place in South Shields on Good Friday 2014.

There, shipping containers were used to create installation artworks.

ART INSTALLATION: Shopping trolleys represented coal trucks in the Great Community Passion. Picture: Keith Blundy.

ART INSTALLATION: Shopping trolleys represented coal trucks in the Great Community Passion. Picture: Keith Blundy.

NICE TOUCH: Many of the trolley 'coal trucks' have been personalised. Picture: Keith Blundy.

NICE TOUCH: Many of the trolley 'coal trucks' have been personalised. Picture: Keith Blundy.