PARISHIONERS were flushed with pride as a new accessible toilet and baby change facilities were opened at St Mary's Parish Church, Barnard Castle, last weekend.

Work to incorporate the facilities at St Mary's is part of the church’s programme of improvements which aim to make the building more welcoming and hospitable to visitors.

The Reverend Canon Alec Harding, vicar of St Mary's, said: “It may seem obvious, but helping people to feel comfortable in church is an expression of care and love.

“Not every mediaeval building has an obvious space for modern facilities but back in the 15th century, King Richard III built a porch onto the church which has proved ideal for our purposes.”

Part funded by grants from local county councillors Richard Bell and Barbara Harrison, the facilities were installed by Anthony Nixon furniture, a local firm based just 200 yards from the church.

Cutting a ribbon to open the facility Councillor Bell commended the church on the improvements made to the building and underlined the importance of public buildings being accessible to all.