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Bangor blossoming

19 July 2013

NOT often does one hear of a church, after being closed for 15 years, being brought back to life and working hard to become a fully "grown-up parish". Even more unusual is that the church, St Tudclud's, is in a Welsh-speaking village in Bangor diocese, with bilingual services.

It closed in 1994, but was reopened in 2009 by popular demand from the villagers of Penmachno, who were tired of having roving services in schools and pubs. An important catalyst in the reopening, I am told, was the military funeral held (by special permission) for a young Royal Marine, L/Cpl Martin Richards, who had been a member of the village community.

They found the church just as it was when it had been locked up in 1994, and they have since been working on it. The gallery floor has been strengthened, the altar rails removed, and the kitchen improved. There is a small shop in the church, and a self-service coffee machine that is much appreciated by visitors and bike-trail users, as well as by members of the community. With two services a month, and prayers on Wednesdays, the church has become the venue for all manner of events, many of them fund-raising for the church restoration.

The latest improvements have been to the windows. The Victorian east window of Welsh saints was broken, and Meridian Glass, of St Asaph, undertook its restoration, the Conwy Rural Partnership contributing generously towards the cost. Though some of the broken glass had been recovered, parts were missing, and it needed old photographs and memories from the long-term residents of the village to piece together the design.

While that was going on, it was decided to do something about the vast south window, filling up the gap where a south transept once stood, and generally considered an eyesore. A local artist, Yvonne Amor, came up with a plan to create a faux window of painted perspex (pictured). This was supported by an award of £700 from the Conwy Arts Service. Ms Amor created the design, inspired by a number of psalms, and people from the village all helped to paint it.

The result is spectacular, Geraldine Thomas says; and the Bishop of Bangor, the Rt Revd Andrew John, recently came to bless both windows. Mrs Thomas is one of the steering group that is now working to restore St Tudclud's to being a "grown-up parish" with an electoral roll and a PCC.

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