A small catholic church in Northern Ireland has been named as this year’s Church of The Year.
The National Churches Trust has awarded St Macartan's Church, The Forth Chapel of Augher, County Tyrone, with its top prize for its involvement of local people and volunteers.
‘We absolutely did not expect it,” Mary McGee from the church told Premier.
“We were so overwhelmed even to leave County Tyrone and head to central London and have a look at the beautiful city of London. We definitely did not expect it.”
Hosted by The National Churches Trust, the prizes were awarded at a ceremony in central London, celebrating churches and the people looking after them.
St Macartan’s took home the highest award for its “outstanding contribution to both the congregation and wider local community”.
“They just seem to have everything together,” David Knigths, director of engagement at the National Churches Trust, told Premier.
“They make really great use of volunteers, they have proper maintenance of their building. They make their church really hospitable for people coming in. And then also they serve whatever the community local community needs. And so, all of those things came together. “
The church dates back from 1838-1846 and was once the cathedral of the Clogher Vaelly.
It had also recently undergone a revamp of its Clarke Studio stained glass windows, installed in 1922.
McGuee continued: “We're set on a literary trail here in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, and we have a local writer rose Cavalia, actually buried or interred in our graveyard. So we have a little bit of you know, her writings we have some of the William carton writings, which we include in our guided tour.
“And we talk a lot about the history of our church as well about our community which is cannon McGahan set, as you can imagine, here in Northern Ireland, we have seen joy and sorrow. And we add all of that into our guided tour. So we have a lovely story, and I hope we tell it well.”
The Trust also awarded prizes in three other categories to churches across the four nations.