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Historic abbey opens doors to business community

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Seventh Century Hexham Abbey – one of the earliest seats of Christianity in the region – is set to be transformed to host a prestigious gala dinner attracting more than 200 guests.

Newcastle Building Society, whose Hexham branch is directly opposite the Abbey at the heart of the town, has been announced as the headline sponsor of the event, which will raise funds vital to the Abbey in maintaining its historic buildings and its work in the community.

The event, on Friday November 15, will also foster relationships between the Abbey and the regional business community, showcasing the Grade I-listed church in all of its historic grandeur.

Canon Dr Dagmar Winter, Rector of Hexham, said: “It is wonderful to have generous support from Newcastle Building Society in staging what promises to be an incredibly special event for the Abbey and for Hexham.

“Our guests will enjoy a unique opportunity to join colleagues and friends for an unforgettable evening of entertainment, food and drink in this wonderfully atmospheric, special place; one of the North of England’s most magnificent historic churches and a place of faith, welcome and charity at the heart of the Tyne Valley for 1,345 years.

“The Abbey cannot operate without the generosity and goodwill of the North East community, and the proceeds from this landmark event will contribute towards preserving this historic place and our team’s vital work in the community.”

Tickets are limited for the gala dinner, which is one of several fundraising initiatives for the Abbey, which is seeking to raise £1m for its roof appeal.

Hexham Abbey is one of the earliest seats of Christianity in England and there has been a church on the site since Etheldreda, Queen of Northumbria, made a grant of lands to St Wilfrid in the year 674.

Of Wilfrid’s abbey, which was constructed almost entirely of material salvaged from Corbridge’s Roman ruins, the Saxon crypt still remains, as does a 7th Century bishop’s seat and numerous historic artefacts.

In 2014, the Abbey regained ownership of its former monastic buildings and subsequently, with the aid of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, developed them into a permanent exhibition and visitor centre, function spaces and community meeting rooms. Today, Hexham Abbey is a busy parish church and a destination renowned for its heritage, its welcoming visitor centre, café and shop.

Hannah Samuel, manager of the Hexham branch of Newcastle Building Society, said: “It is a real pleasure to support this wonderful event. We are deeply committed to our local community and the Abbey’s place at the heart of Hexham is vital to the local area.

“This is an outstanding opportunity for people to join together in a breathtaking setting for what promises to be a unique event. The Abbey is our neighbour at the heart of Hexham and we are very proud to be able to support it.”

Tickets for the event are available now, £900 for a table of 10 and £95 for individual places. Contact Kerry McCabe, tel 07803 524 945