Freystrop Church Picks Up National Award

09 June 2018

Bethel Congregational Church, Middle Hill, has been awarded a £2,000 prize after nominations from across the UK were invited for the annual Serving the Community Awards.

Esme and Graham Utting received the award on behalf of the church at the Congregational Federation Assembly held in Islington, London on Saturday 9 June.  The awards, sponsored by national church insurer Congregational Insurance, recognise the efforts of churches that use the energy, commitment and skills of church members and volunteers to establish and maintain social initiatives within their local community.

The closure of the local arm of Age Concern Cymru in August 2016 was a great loss to the village as it supported the elderly and ran a popular craft club. The Church had been active partners in this Age Concern network and came to a brave decision to take over the running of the group which the closing agency had left.

A weekly craft group session held every Tuesday in the village hall now provides opportunities for companionship, fun and enjoyment for its members whilst they learn new skills. People can meet their neighbours, make connections and through conversation and fellowship a sense of community and continuity is created.  Most of the people attending live in the surrounding area, and for many, the craft group may be their only regular social interaction each week. Some of the creative work produced by the group members is sold or shared and at Christmas time an array of festive decorations were produced and used to decorate the Church premises. 

Mrs Esme Utting, Church Secretary said “We are so pleased and excited to have won this award. It was an honour to be nominated and to realise just how much our community work means to people in the local area.  The craft group has gone from strength to strength in helping to connect people who might otherwise have felt isolated. The prize fund is very unexpected and will be used to further develop the craft group and our Church work across the community”

Margaret Slater, Marketing Manager of Congregational Insurance, commented: “We place a strong focus on supporting community initiatives that really make a difference and unite people. Bethel Congregational Church has a relatively small membership and they stepped up to a big challenge and filled a void within their local community.  With an aging and ever more isolated population its inspiring to see these Church members using creative crafts to help bring people together irrespective of faith or belief”

Yvonne Campbell General Secretary of the Congregational Federation commented: “The standard of nominations for this year’s awards was again extremely high, and each of the 3 churches that received an award today have made a real impact in their local area by responding directly to community need and providing a service that would otherwise have been finished. We are absolutely delighted that so much impressive work has grown out of local congregations and we’re proud to provide Bethel Congregational Church, in Middle Hill with their well-deserved cash prize and hope that this funding boost will enable them to continue this very important work within their community.”


To view short films of this year’s award winners, visit