THE congregation at All Saints’ Church, Marlow is celebrating after a £170,000 project has provided massively improved facilities.

It took three months to complete the Narthex Extension at the Buckinghamshire church. “The entrance to the church is now lighter, feels more spacious and for me gives a good sense of welcome. It is very hard to walk in and imagine that it hasn’t always been like it now is,” says Richard Powell, who spearheaded the project. A narthex is a porch often found at the western entrance of a church, separated off by a railing.

“The stairs leading up to the first floor recreates the staircase that was provided when the church was built. In those days it gave access to the balcony that ran around the inside of the main church building.

“The downstairs toilet is accessible for all and anyone that cannot manage the stairs has a facility readily available.

“There are three toilets on the first floor and these will be a great benefit when large events are taking place in the building. It means that when asked ‘where is the loo’ we don’t have to apologise for the facility we are directing folk to.”

The extension has provided the Upper Room – a new upstairs meeting room offering a light and bright office space for up to a dozen people.

Richard explained that in 2012 the PCC decided on three priorities to support the vision of being a welcoming, friendly church reaching out to its community. For that to happen they needed to improve access to the building, to provide kitchenette facilities and better toilets.

The toilets have been twinned with communities in developing countries. “So, as we celebrate here in Marlow it is good to know that we are also helping to make a difference to some of the world’s poorest communities so that they have a better chance of essentials such as a toilet, clean water and hygiene education,” says Richard. “This project really has enhanced the building. It has been a joy to work on it.”