THE beautiful fellside village of Renwick this week bid a sad farewell to a community activity that first started in April 1992.

John and Olwen Houghton retired to the village from Doncaster in 1987 and, wanting to become part of community life and the local methodist circuit, came up with the idea of a weekly coffee morning in the Methodist church hall - known as the school room.

The aim was to help bring together members of both village churches and anyone living either within the village of Renwick or local area.

The sign, made and painted by John and Olwen to hang on the gates, is still being used every week, 30 years later.

News and Star: John and Olwen Houghton with the original signJohn and Olwen Houghton with the original sign (Image: Supplied)Several villagers who liked the idea, helped distribute letters to homes and farms whilst others brought cups in which to serve the coffee.

The first meeting was a huge success attracting around 20 locals of varying ages and since then, it has, (excluding the Covid lockdown) taken place almost every Wednesday since.

When the village Post Office closed, the school room became its new ‘part time’ home.

Although John and Olwen moved out of the village in 2000 to be nearer family in Carlisle, stalwarts Rose Greenup and Joan Natrass decided to keep the coffee morning going week after week.

Renwick Methodist Church, built in 1905, was seeing a decline in membership and with lowering numbers attending services, the Methodist Circuit Stewards decided not to reopen the church for worship after Covid, but agreed the coffee morning could continue.

It was recently announced that the church and school room would be closed and put up for auction, meaning the building would no longer be available for the weekly village get together.

News and Star: The interior of Renwick Methodist Church The interior of Renwick Methodist Church (Image: Supplied)This week the final coffee morning was held with John Houghton being invited back to join Rose Greenup and Joan Natrass cutting a cake to mark the momentous occasion.

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Although a sad day for the village and the church, those who attended reminisced and remembered those no longer around, the highs and lows of the years, changes to village life, the annual strawberry cream teas event that the Houghtons held in their home and garden and the services, weddings and funerals that have taken place in the chapel - including the weddings of John and Olwen’s two daughters.

At twelve o’clock, the cups were put away for the final time, lights switched off and the door locked.

Although the future of this historic church is now in the hands of the Methodist Church, it is hoped that coffee will still be served, each Wednesday, somewhere in the village.