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Hexham Abbey

News & Views - The Abbey Parish Magazine 

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June 2009              Issue No 95



We still don’t know whether the economy will plummet even deeper into recession or if there are some green shoots of recovery.  What we do know is that human greed, and not just that of high flying bosses, is somewhere near the heart of our problems.  Individuals’ desire for yet more, linked with bankers’ games of chance, and fuelled by the possibility of huge bonuses and low regulation, made for many a bad debt. 

Saint Paul wrote that ‘the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil’ and, of course there are many places in the gospels where Jesus warns against the deceitfulness of wealth and the impossibility of serving both God and money. 

If this current crisis is doing anything, perhaps we are being that little bit more cautious and careful with our finances.  As we look to the future it seems highly likely that we are yet to see the stress on the canvas of society becoming more taut and fraught as the government has less to spend on public services, families struggle with unemployment, and charitable giving falls. 

Is a relentless pursuit of financial gain what we really want?  Or should we be looking to a wider picture that has economic benefits but not at the expense of human livelihood?  Why can’t there be a greater sense of service and vocation to work, rather than looking continually for bonuses and reward?  Why can’t we have a greater sense of contentment and enjoyment with that which we have, without continually looking for something more?  Why should our charitable giving go down at a time when many charities have more demands on their work and care?  

Amidst this gloom and soul searching there is much for which still to give thanks.  This month sees Canon Jack Trimble celebrating 50 years as a priest and we send him and Kay our warmest good wishes, together with our thanks for their ministry and help with the liturgical life of the Abbey.  It is also 50th anniversary of Canon Stanley Prins’ priesting and this will be celebrated at a service in the Abbey, with Bishop Martin, on Wednesday 10th June.  These anniversaries remind us about taking the long view amidst attending to the here and now – or is that just wishful thinking amidst economic cycles and fiscal stimuli? 




Tuesday 2nd June, Visit of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth (trans)

12.00noon Holy Communion


Sunday 7th June                                                    Trinity Sunday

8.30am             Holy Communion                                  

10.00am       Abbey Pr@ise

                      Fairtrade Stall in Abbey

11.45am       Holy Communion (BCP from Common Worship)

6.30pm             Taizé style Evening Prayer

Wednesday 10th June, 11.00am

Stanley Prins 50th Anniversary of Priesting Eucharist with Bishop Martin

Thursday 11th June, Barnabas the Apostle

10.30am Holy Communion

6.30pm  Art Tour Launch  and Preview in North Transept

Saturday 13th June, 3.00pm

Rectory Garden Party (surnames from A-L)

Sunday 14th June                                   1st Sunday after Trinity

8.30am           Holy Communion

10.00am         Parish Eucharist

11.45am         Morning Worship with Baptism

6.30pm           Choral Evensong

Saturday 20th June, 7.30pm

Newcastle upon Tyne Bach Choir Concert


Sunday 21st June                                  2nd Sunday after Trinity

8.30am        Holy Communion                      

10.00am      Parish Eucharist with Baptism

                   followed by a briefing on the Hexham Abbey Project by Fiona Standfield, Project Manager.

6.30pm         Choral Evensong

Wednesday 24th June, Birth of John the Baptist

9.30am Holy Communion

Saturday 27th June  Choir Fund Raising Day on the Abbey Flags


Sunday 28th June                                  3rd Sunday after Trinity

8.30am             Holy Communion

10.00am       Parish Eucharist

6.30pm         Choral Evensong

Tuesday 30th June, Peter and Paul Apostles (trans)

12.00noon Holy Communion


Sunday 5th July                                      4th Sunday after Trinity

8.30am         Holy Communion                                 

10.00am       Abbey Pr@ise

11.45am       Holy Communion (BCP from Common Worship)

6.30pm             Choral Evensong



Friday 3rd July, Thomas the Apostle

9.30am Holy Communion



Sunday Bible Readings in June


7th         am    Romans 8.12-17; John 3.1-17

pm    Exodus 16.4-15; Revelation 2.12-17   


14th        am    1 Samuel 15.34-16.13; Mark 4.26-34

          pm    Jeremiah 7.1-16; Romans 9.14-26


21st         am   1 Samuel 17. 32-49; Mark 4.35-end

              pm   Jeremiah 10.1-16; Romans 11.25-end


28th        am   2 Samuel 1.1, 17-end; Mark 5.21-end

              pm   Jeremiah 11.1-14; Romans 13.1-10



The Way We Were - 100 years ago

From Hexham Parish Magazine, June 1909: The Rector and Mrs Savage will be very pleased if the members and associates of the C.E. Men's Society will spend an informal evening in The Priory Grounds on Tuesday 22nd June…simply an idle evening to walk and talk and smoke.




Holy Baptisms

Sunday 10th May              Lewis Shepherd

                                       Daniel Wills

                                       Owen Dodd

Sunday 17th May              Emma Nicholson



Sunday 3rd May                Matt Mansell and Katherine Bell

Saturday 16th May           Jolyon Goodwin and Lisa McBurnie

Saturday 23rd May           Paul Rock and Rachel Bradley


Christian Burials and Cremations

Joyce Farrell, died 30th April.  Cremated 8th May 2009.

Kay Brewster, died 30th April.  Buried 13th May 2009.

Emily Nixon, died 2nd May. Buried 12th May 2009.

John Perfect, died 2nd May.  Cremated 15th May 2009.

Rosemary Foston, died 5th May. Cremated 12th May 2009.

Robert Dodd, died 8th May.  Cremated 15th May 2009.

Shirley Clarke, died 13th May.  Cremated 22nd May 2009.

William Forster, died 19th May.  Buried 26th May 2009.

Dennis Rounthwaite, died 18th May.  Cremated 29th May 2009.




If the carved faces in Hexham Abbey could speak, just imagine what stories they could tell us of the countless people who have sought sanctuary in this place over the years. This timeless theme was the focus of a performing arts project that took place over three weeks at the end of April and the beginning of May as a collaboration between Corbridge, Hexham and St Joseph’s Middle Schools and the Abbey. 

The aim of the project was to offer some Year 7 children a creative and intensive learning opportunity in an area of the performing arts in which they excelled. The theme of the project was chosen to mark the 1300th anniversary of the death of St Wilfrid who first secured the sanctuary rights for the Abbey at Hexham. 

90 children in total took part in the project. Three performing arts workshops – in music, art and drama – were held in the Abbey. All the workshops lasted two days and brought together ten children from each Middle School who were set the considerable challenge of working together to create an artistic response to the theme of sanctuary. 

The results were exceptional and revealed a maturity beyond the years of those involved. 

The musicians created a piece of music that reflected the emotional journey of a person seeking sanctuary. It opened with erratic and discordant phrases to represent the chaos which might lead a person to seek sanctuary. Gradually the music came together and achieved a rising streamlined sound to show the renewal and peace of sanctuary. It ended with a positive and uplifting melody and variations to portray the calm confidence to look ahead. 

The art workshops began by the children designing their own image of sanctuary on a small square panel. They then went on to create 8 further squares to reflect the Abbey as a place of sanctuary, using a variety of mediums such as pastels, mono-printing and ‘frottage’, where rubbings taken in the Abbey were used in a collage to create one of the Abbey’s carved faces. 

The drama workshop depicted different stories of sanctuary – from a glimpse into the turbulent past of the Border Reivers, to imagined scenes of people seeking sanctuary in the Abbey today which was particularly poignant. 

All the hard work of the children and staff culminated in the evening of Friday 8th May when invited friends and family attended an exhibition of the art work and a performance of the music and drama. It was an amazing evening. The Abbey was full and yet the children were unfazed by the sense of occasion. The music, art and drama were incredibly moving and at the end of the evening I felt as though the children had really captured a sense of the safety and peace the Abbey has offered to countless people down the centuries.


Toni Bush


The Heart of Godly Play


Creating Sacred Space

Building and working in community

Learning religious language

Using religious language to make meaning

(taken from the Godly Play UK website)





If you would like to experience Godly Play and have time to reflect on it, here is an opportunity.  Joanna Anderson will be leading a ‘Godly Play Taster Evening’ on Tuesday 14th July, 7.30pm – 9.00pm, in the Abbey.  This is a chance for adults to gain more insight into Godly Play, experience a full session, and have time to share their impressions.

Numbers are limited to 20, so please contact Joanna through the Abbey Centre, 01434 602031, to reserve your place.





We have invited a number of articles this month about the Credit Crunch and its impact on various aspects of life. 

Bishop Paul Richardson, Assistant Bishop of Newcastle, begins our thinking by arguing that an urgent debate is needed in advance of a General Election about the state of the public purse.


According to Google, at the worst of the recession large numbers of people will lose their jobs in the months ahead. Unemployment figures could well reach 3 million before the economic recovery predicted for next year starts to have an impact.  

As well as causing unemployment, the recession has hit pensioners and anyone dependent on savings. It has made life more difficult for small businesses trying to get loans and for anyone trying to sell a house.  All this is well known. What is only just beginning to be appreciated in the wake of the budget is the state of the public finances. The figures disclosed by the Chancellor in April mean that after the next election, no matter who wins, we are going to be faced by massive cuts to public spending and by tax increases. 

At present the major parties are not saying where the cuts will fall but it is important that we have a debate about this before the election. Do we look for further reforms rather than increased spending to bring improvements to the NHS? Do we cut back on university expansion? Will the two major parties honour their commitment to link pensions to earnings by 2012 or 2015 at the latest? Can we afford to fund pensions in the public sector at the present rate?  

Following the revelations about MPs’s expenses there is a good deal of disillusionment with politics and politicians. Such disillusionment will only deepen if we have a phoney election with no discussion of the real issues. Churches should force the question in the coming months. We are living through a period that will set the direction of our country for years ahead.


Mike Worthington, who lives in Hexham and is the chairman of a regional voluntary network, reflects upon additional pressures for voluntary organisations at this time.


‘Surviving NOT Thriving’ is the title of a piece of work the Voluntary Organisations' North East Network (VONNE) is undertaking, to try and assess the impact of the recession on voluntary and community organisations and their beneficiaries.  Early findings from a survey of the sector tell us that: 

  • 55% of respondents are already seeing a downturn in their funding and are predicting further decreases this year.

  • Half of all organisations who replied to the survey are predicting an increase in service provision this year.  A third are struggling to cope with increased demand.  Mental health charities, advice services and hostels are turning people away as demand outstrips resources.

  • One quarter predict they will make staff redundant this year.

  • Two thirds believe their beneficiaries are ill-equipped to cope with the impact of the recession.

  • Funders are making increased reporting demands on the sector, creating an increased administrative burden – and deflecting time and resources from service delivery.

  • Respondents from the new unitary authority areas of Northumberland and Durham expressed concern at the potential negative impact on Third Sector funding. 

It is likely that the situation faced by the sector will worsen before it improves, as reductions in public sector funds begin to bite, with the consequent negative knock-on to the voluntary and community sector.  The sector needs to prepare for a tough year financially in 2010/11.  Beyond this, it is difficult to predict. 

So, whilst the sector is not panicking, you can see why we say we are surviving, not thriving.  However, it is clear that services are reducing, projects will go to the wall, staff redundancies will occur.  And the voluntary and community sector services are, for the most part, available to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our society.  The VCS “reaches the parts that others can’t reach”. 

Is there a silver lining?  Well, VONNE and others will campaign for funding to retain essential services.  The voluntary sector has a history of innovation and lateral thinking.  It is likely that those who do more than survive the recession will be those organisations which can adapt to changing circumstances, have broad-based funding arrangements and are led by strong, politically aware Chief Executives and trustees.


This leads us on to consider the effect on charitable giving.  George Hepburn, a former member of the congregation who is soon retiring from being the Chief Executive of the Tyne and Wear Community Foundation, offers some thoughts.

To our surprise, donations to the Community Foundation have been as strong and generous as ever over the past 6 months.  We have received gifts that would be exceptional, even in more prosperous times.  They include a donation of £100,000 to mark the 10th Anniversary for our Women’s Fund and two new funds from personal donors to help young people develop their skills and to take up outdoor activities.

Among our corporate supporters both Eaga and BNS Telecom, based in Prudhoe, have increased their level of support this year.  So from where I sit, it is not clear that the credit crunch is affecting charitable giving. 

I am much more worried that the demands on small charities will increase over the next couple of years, especially in areas where unemployment will rise.  We must avoid the kind of disaffection that was seen on some of our housing estates and rural communities in the '80s when unemployment was at its peak.  A new grants programme at the Community Foundation with government funding will provide nearly £1m for groups seeing increased demand because of the recession but much more will be needed. 

Unlike the factory closures that hit the headlines, cuts in funding to local charities are much more subtle and tenacious.  They are a result of withdrawal of government and local authority funding which seems inevitable over the next few years.  It will take several years to work through the implications of the last twelve months and to face up to the financial, economic and moral consequences.

Over that time, we are likely to rely more than ever on the generosity of individuals and companies to help those most in need.  I am pleased that so far, people in the North East are responding so well and being prepared to dig deeper because they are only too aware of the difficulties that their neighbours face in the immediate future.


Larry Bush, who worships at the 10am service, works for Tradecraft and is particularly concerned about how the recession will effect some of the world’s poorest producers.


For many of us the words ‘credit crunch’ summon up images of sheepish-looking City bankers apologising for irresponsible banking practices and construction and car manufacturing sites laying off thousands of employees. 

However the current economic downturn is a truly global phenomenon and the implications are often even worse in other parts of the world. 

This really came home to me a few weeks ago when I heard a coffee farmer from Kenya talking about what has happened there. Food prices have typically doubled over the past year and for the average family 70% of their income goes on food and essentials for the family. As a result most families have had to cut down on the number of meals per day and parents may only eat one meal a day in order to provide for their children. 

It's a stark reminder that we may think we have it bad - and it's true there is real hardship here in the UK - but the level of hardship is on a different scale altogether in many parts of Africa, Asia and South America. 

The coffee farmer talked about the fact that Fairtrade is providing a life-line and is enabling thousands of families to keep going on a reasonable income. It's a reminder to us not to cut back on supporting Fairtrade the extra pennies it costs us to buy Fairtrade tea, coffee, bananas, biscuits and crafts makes a massive difference. Now more than ever. 

Rick Toerner, who was a member of the congregation for two years, is now back home in the States and reflects upon the effects of the Credit Crisis in America. 

After returning to Cincinnati, Ohio, from England I accepted a position with Cincinnati Area Senior Services, a senior services organization that provides basic services to home bound seniors such as meals, guardianship services and protective services to exploited inner city senior citizens. 

The credit crisis has severely affected these types of people who have very little to begin with.  Many are living on very little, Social Security benefits and off modest retirement accounts.  When the stock markets suffered daily losses many of these people saw their monthly income reduced even further creating a dire situation even direr.  People were being forced to make decisions that many of them were not prepared to make: how they would be able to afford food; medications; rent or other meagre comforts they have enjoyed. 

More people in Cincinnati are turning to social agencies to help for basic necessities with some agencies seeing increases as much as 40 to 50% in requests for help.  Agencies such as the one I am working for are not able to handle such increases in requests and are forced to turn people away or put them on a waiting list.  We rely on monies from the local city and county government who are struggling themselves and have had to cut funding for social services to balance their own budgets. 

Although there is some relief in sight for the recovery of the economy, the need for assistance to these people and other people in similar situation will continue for many years, but funding for these programs will not increase, leaving people at even more of risk for a sustainable quality of life which we try to give them through Cincinnati Area Senior Services. 

James Arkless, a member of the PCC and Friday Zone youth leader, considers his own future and feels that he is treading water at the crossroads. 

How often in life do you get the sense of being at a crossroads?  It can be personal matters, family events, changes in work.  They are moments of great opportunity, and times when we maybe need to stop, look and listen to discern how to make the best of them. 

When the queues first formed outside the Northern Rock, before the term ‘credit crunch’ was coined, few of us probably realised where it was all leading and how much it would touch us all.  My personal plan for the autumn of 2008 (never mind 2009) was to start seriously looking for a new job.  As it turned out of course I was fortunate to have one at all, and the idea of moving is on the back burner for a while until things improve. 

What have I done in the meantime?  Apart from ‘treading water’ if you like, the delay in my plans has given me time – unexpected time - to reflect on where my life is taking me, and to challenge my assumptions about that direction of travel.  As yet I have come to no conclusions, but the process is certainly interesting. 

I’m sure I can’t be alone in this.  Many people are putting plans on hold, and whilst they do so they have time to think.  Perhaps we will make better choices in the wake of this crisis – for crisis it is, in the true and original sense of the word (ask a Greek scholar!).  Perhaps we may even discover a thing or two about ourselves.



At a time when Frances Dower is ordained Deacon, we explore Ordination, the exploration of a ‘calling’, the training involved, what it is like for family members, and what happens at the actual service. Articles for inclusion should be sent to Jane Musto, the Abbey’s Administrator, ideally about 200 words and by e-mail, before 20th June.



in the Monastic Workshop



Saturday 10.30am - 4.00pm

Tuesday 10.30am – 4.00pm



Fairtrade coffee, tea and drinking chocolate

Home made soup with roll and butter,

sandwiches, cakes and scones

All profits raised will go towards the work and ministry

of Hexham Abbey.




Kay Brewster

Kay will be sorely missed by many of the Abbey family.  In Abbey Teas she was hard working, cheerful and welcoming to all. Always efficient as the provisions shopper, she was also outstanding as the Christmas lunch organiser.  Kay was a regular Steward and will be much missed on the rota.  She was a special friend to many, with a huge sense of fun and compassion, with an interest in all those around her.


Emily Nixon

We were greatly saddened to hear of the death on 2nd May of Emily Nixon, a very longstanding member of the Abbey Family going back over 80 years.  She lived all her life in the same house in Kingsgate Terrace, Hexham and in her earlier years it was the Abbey Institute Chapel where she went every Sunday, regarding it as the humbler sister of the Abbey itself. 

Before her marriage Emily worked for a dressmaker before training for the nursing profession.  Perhaps her experience as a nurse helped her later to be an exceptionally helpful and caring member of the Mothers' Union.  However it was as a Sunday School Teacher that she first showed her commitment to Christianity.

As a staunch member of the Mothers' Union, Emily served in many ways including as Treasurer for a number of years.  She also frequently visited the sick and was concerned about their needs.  A member of the Mothers' Union Prayer Group, she could always be relied upon to produce an appropriate prayer when it was needed. 

Emily was interested in everything that was going on at the Abbey, not just the M.U. At Abbey Festivals for example she used to help serve coffee in concert intervals and latterly she helped with Tots' Praise on a Wednesday morning.  She was a regular attender at weekday Eucharists as well as on Sunday.
Emily was a devout Christian who played a full part in the life of Hexham Abbey.  She will be greatly missed. 

Prue Phillipson/Joyce Christie


Rosemary Foston 

One of the privileges of being Town Mayor is to appoint someone who has performed outstanding voluntary service in the Town as Steward and Bailiff of Hexham.  Rosemary cared for others in many, many ways throughout her life – her husband Eric during his long illness, her work through bodies such as the Red Cross, St Raphael's Guild, Milecastle, Age Concern or just because they were friends, neighbours, fellow parishioners.  In recognition of all this I appointed her Steward and Bailiff in 2008.  Had she realised what was afoot, she would never have accepted as she hated the limelight, but the Recor and I lured her to the ceremony and were sure she was pleased (once the shock had worn off!). Certainly everyone else was, for she had a special place in so many people's hearts, as witness the packed Nave at her funeral in the Abbey which she served devotedly in so many ways. 

Mary and I are so pleased to have known, loved and laughed (for she was always great fun) with Rosemary, because she was just a lovely person.

J B Jonas


This year's Pilgrimage will take place on Saturday 1st August.  The opening worship will begin at Hexham Abbey at 11.15am.  We shall then walk via St John Lee, where there will be a short act of worship and time to have a picnic (tea/coffee will be provided), to St Oswald's Heavenfield, arriving for a closing act of worship at 4pm, followed by tea.  In recent years some people have travelled part of the route by car.


 The PCC met on Tuesday 19 May for its first meeting since the Annual Parish Meeting on Sunday 19 April.  17 members were present and there were 5 apologies for absence.

A brief summary of issues:

·        We welcomed three new members:  Fiona Kelsey (Elected PCC), Fiona Finnon (Churchwarden) and Rev Joanna Anderson

·        Officers for the Council and representatives for the parish were elected

·        The new policy regarding Sunday morning fundraising sales had settled in

·        We are hoping to attract two young people to attend council meetings

·        Standing Committee and Staff have responded to Diocesan guidelines on precautions we might need to take in case of Pandemic Flu

·        A start was made on considering how we will respond to the need to increase our income, or reduce our expenditure, or both

·        Initial arrangements were made which will enable the PCC to register with the Charity Commissioners, a necessary route for a parish of our size.

·        Parish policies were reviewed and approved.  Some changes were made to the Governance policy.  A copy will soon be available on the parish website.

·        Progress is being made towards the housing of the Anglo-Saxon Chalice in a higher-specification display case.

·        3 names had been added to the Electoral Roll

·        The major topic was about the inclusiveness of our church.  We considered ways in which our practice is good, and in what ways we felt we should be more inclusive.  Our thoughts were guided by a summary of the book Space for Grace by Giles Goddard

·        Support was given to the suggestions to continue with a Christmas Fair, now it has had four successful years, and, in principle to a Gala Dinner in 2010.

Your comments on any of these issues would be welcome to the PCC Secretary, David Ratcliff, 22 Rye Terrace, Hexham – hexrats22@aol.com.

Full details of the meeting in the minutes posted on the noticeboard in the South Transept (round the back!!).  Next meeting:  PCC 21 July



 2009 is a very special year for Hexham – the 1300th anniversary of the death of the founder of the Abbey, St Wilfrid.  Wilfrid had great vision for this place and made two major visits to Rome, enduring shipwreck on his return from one of them.  His visits were made specifically to represent the importance of Hexham as a Christian Centre in the North of England, and he pleaded with the Pope to give it full recognition.  As such he was Hexham’s first ambassador.  Without Wilfrid, no Abbey.  Without Abbey, no Hexham. 

To commemorate this special anniversary the Abbey Choir has been invited to sing in Rome, and a four-day visit is planned.  We have received an incredible welcome from institutions within the city and are singing at All Saints, the Anglican Church in Rome, the Anglican Centre, the Church of the Order of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem and of Malta, and in St Peter’s Basilica itself.  A group of about 40 singers and leaders are making this exciting journey.   

Whilst there, as with all our visits, we carry the name of Hexham far and wide, and strive in our relationships with audiences and congregations and in our singing to set high standards and give people a glimpse of the very special character of Hexham.  The Rome trip is our most ambitious and highest profile tour to date.  Until now all the costs of the tours have been met by parents themselves, supported by the choir’s own funds.  The cost this year is beyond the reach of individuals – over £400 per person – and so we are fundraising and seeking grant support so as to provide a bursary of about £150 per singer. (The Rector’s Allendale Challenge raised over £1300 to support our bursaries for both the Girls’ and the Boys’ trips). 

Could you please help us in one of the following ways:

·          Support the major fundraising day on Saturday 27 June by making cakes - lots and lots! - before the day.

·          Come and buy cakes on that day, and hear the choir outside and singing around the town.

·          Bring your car for a very special summer wash and brush up on that day.

·          Donate a raffle prize for the raffle which will run through the summer.

·          OR EVEN . . . please make a direct donation to this unique venture – envelopes, with Gift Aid declarations, are available on the tables in the Abbey, or phone David Ratcliff (608882). 

Thank you for whichever way you might be able to help.

David Ratcliff, for the Choir Tour Organisers


MUSIC IN THE ABBEY kicks off the 2009 season with a wonderful concert by the Newcastle upon Tyne Bach Choir who will be performing Duruflé's Requiem.  Conducted by Eric Cross and accompanied by Michael Haynes on the Phelps Organ, the concert takes place in the Abbey on Saturday 20th June 2009, starting at 7.30pm.  Tickets at £12/£9 can be purchased from the Hexham Abbey Shop.  Free of charge to everyone under the age of 18 years. 

The next concert in the series features the Abbey's Young Musicians on Saturday 4th July at 1.00pm. This popular annual concert showcases the talents of some of the younger musicians associated with the Abbey.  Admission is free with a Retiring Collection.


Peruvian wooden crosses depicting stories from the Bible in vivid colours.  Prices start from £7.50.  Also icons of various shapes and seizes from £4.99 and a range of Celtic leather goods starting from £2.50. Do take 5 minutes to come in and have a look around.


Beaumont Street, Hexham Watch out for…

Our new ranges of table linen & tote bags and Bronnley fragrances and toiletries.

New gift ideas for all the family!

Come in and have a browse – very competitive prices.

All profits raised go towards supporting the ministry of Hexham Abbey