A CHARITY has launched a fundraising campaign to raise the money needed to buy a former Methodist Chapel, with the view of creating a new community hub.

The Miners Lamp’s Crowdfunder follows a petition by Prudhoe Town Councillor Russ Greig, who is a trustee at the charity, to ‘save’ the building from development .

The Ebenezer Methodist Chapel, in West Wylam, Prudhoe, has been marketed for sale by Foster Maddison and is billed as a ‘development opportunity’ – subject to planning and the lifting of covenants.

“The Ebenezer Chapel is under threat. You can help us save it for the benefit of the community,” said Russ.

“The Ebenezer Chapel was built in 1874, shortly after the Mickley Coal Company took over the colliery at West Wylam in the 1860s. The chapel has played a significant role in the lives of the community and served the mining community of West Wylam until the colliery closed in 1961. Ebenezer Chapel remained following the demolition of the old colliery cottages and continued as a chapel until 2015, when it held its last service.

“We must look to the future, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic will mean the social and economic effects will be felt for many years.

“We can see the Ebenezer playing a vital part in our communities resilience and recovery to this impact through services which the Miners Lamp currently provide but also want to expand.

“The Ebenezer will give the Friends of Eastwood Park the space needed to increase community services and support on issues such as debt, housing, mental health as we are supporting many of the towns children and young people.”

In a social media post, the organisation appealed for public donations and said it was seeking grant funding in an attempt to secure the building for future generations.

At the start of the pandemic, the charity saw a surge in demand for its food bank and pay-as-you-feel market and through grant funding, was able to secure cash to upscale its services and provided free meals for the elderly and vulnerable, as well as schoolchildren facing holiday hunger.

If the fundraising bid is successful, the charity would retain its Eastwood Park home, but also take on ownership of the chapel.

The closing date for offers is March 11.

Superintendent minister of Tynedale Methodist Circuit, Rev Paul Dunstan, said: “We are hoping to sell the building to somebody who will be a responsible owner in the future.We would love to see a good community use of the building.”

Rev Dunstan also said that the Ebenezer was not the last Methodist church in Prudhoe, citing Prudhoe Methodist Church, and that the Methodist Church had to make good use of resources through the charity commission.