The Mayor and Mayoress of Great Yarmouth, along with representatives from Norfolk County Council and the Magdalen Ward borough councillors, Cllrs Trevor Wainwright and Brian and Colleen Walker also attended the service.
The church has made changes to the main worship space in order to transform it into a multi-functional space available for community use. A new kitchen and café area at the back of the church has also been introduced, the toilets, which were first installed in 1957, renovated, including making one accessible, and improvements made to the meeting room and office facilities.
The Revd Matthew Price, Vicar of St Mary Magdalene Church, said: “at the heart of our vision as a parish church is to bring transformation by serving our wider community. These facilities will enhance our ability to do that. Already the new space is being used by Magpies, our parent and baby/toddler group, an expanded version of The Bridge, the church’s weekly lunch club, and Open House, a community drop-in on Wednesday mornings. I am excited about the possibilities for the future. We also want our church building to be a welcoming space for all people and the accessible toilet is a long-overdue development.”
The work, which began in November 2021 and was completed in January 2022, benefited from funding totaling £38,500 from Norfolk County Council’s Social Infrastructure Fund. At the special service, The Bishop of Norwich thanked all those who had been involved in the vision, carrying out the work and offering support and funding, and dedicated the new facilities with a special prayer.
Bishop Graham said, “It was just such a sheer joy to be at St Mary Magdalene Church on Sunday to dedicate (and flush) their new facilities! The day’s Gospel text was all about good news to the poor, release to captives, sight to blind, freedom for oppressed, proclaiming the Lord’s favour. This is a daily lived reality at this estate church as it is in many of our parishes around Norfolk and Waveney.”
Cllr Graham Plant, Deputy Leader of Norfolk County Council and Natasha Hayes, Head of Communities at the County Council, whose department oversees the Social Infrastructure Fund, attended the service and were pleased to see the difference their funding had made.
Cllr Plant said, “It’s been great to see how our Social Infrastructure Fund has been used to create such a fantastic space for the local community. It’s always a good sign when you come to an opening for a new facility and it’s already being enjoyed every week. I’m sure its use will only grow and it will be a real asset for the people of Gorleston for years to come.”
St Mary Magdalene Church is located on the Magdalen estate in Gorleston and runs a food bank, lunch club, community drop ins, a youth club, Mags, and Magpies parent and baby/toddler group during the week. The also offer support to families during school holidays through their FAM programme. The church buildings are also the home to 2nd Gorleston Scout Group, Gorleston Community Choir, Pawzitive Partners dog training and Slimming World.