Northumberland County Council has granted us permission to go ahead with plans for the refurbishment of the retreat house.
When Fr Mark and his fellow priests mobilised a group of volunteer artisans and labourers from Consett and its surroundings back in the early 1960s to help them to convert the disused outbuildings into a modern residential retreat house, the last thing they imagined was that their successors would be undertaking a huge refurbishment project 50 years on, but so we are!
In the intervening years, the groups who come and the retreats they undertake have changed and the building needs to adapt to accommodate those changes.
Where once a whole parish would fill its rooms, now smaller groups are looking for greater flexibility. As well as large meeting rooms, people want social space to gather and smaller rooms for one-to-one sessions and counselling.
The large kitchen no longer serves its purpose, so a smaller, simpler one will do. The bedrooms need a makeover to make them more comfortable, and we need more bathrooms on the upper floor.
We plan to increase the facilities for disabled people, installing eight en-suite rooms on the ground floor, as well as a much needed lift, which has already been ordered and will be installed next month.