When John Autherson got the job of nominating a volunteer at Hutton Rudby Methodist Church, he found it impossible – so he chose the entire Community Hub Team.
The hub – John is chair – is a stunning example of how hard work can transform not just a church but an entire community.
Hutton Rudby – a picturesque, very rural village on the edge of the North York Moors – had few facilities and poor transport links, which meant that many locals, especially the elderly, and stay-at-home mums, risked becoming isolated.
So four years ago the church council decided to grasp the nettle.
They raised £125,000, gutted and rebuilt their church, and put in modern underfloor heating and insulation.
Now it offers Hutton Rudby a seven-days-a-week community facility using the same energy as it did one day a week.
‘It was a major job,’ said John. ‘We were helped by a number of what I call ‘God instances’ – things you think could only happen with divine intervention. For instance, as we were thinking about the project, a structural engineer just started coming to church.’
Around 300 people of all ages use the hub each week, served by between thirty and forty helpers.
There’s a library, computers with IT support, a children’s play area, and a coffee bar. Local organisations offer children’s story time, a backgammon club, and a pensioners’ table tennis league. There’s even a radio station
broadcasting daily music, local history, and faith-based shows. People listen from all over the world, many of them Hutton Rudby émigrés, or the families of current residents.
‘There were more ‘God instances’ there, too,’ said John. ‘We were investigating paying for music and a chap came in and said, “I live down the road, and I work for the Performing Rights Society – can I help?” Astonishing, really.