Theresa May's husband Philip opens community hall at Sonning church

Stephen Delahunty

Reporter:

Stephen Delahunty

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The Prime Minister's husband opened a new half-a-million-pound community hall at St Andrew's Church in Sonning on Sunday.

There was a special service with about 400 people attending including the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, who dedicated the building and new parish office.

Theresa May, a patron of the church, was due to attend the ceremony herself but arrived in the morning to take communion and hold a private opening for the hall due to general election commitments.

The Prime Minister and her husband have been worshipping at the church in Thames Street since she won her constituency seat nearly 20 years ago.

It was left to Philip May, who is also a patron, to unveil a plaque at the new hall, called The Ark.

Reverend Jamie Taylor said: “We need space for our new outreach programme which will include a pensioners' lunch club and youth club and also for our growing Sunday school.

"The Ark has given us the facilities we need and we now look forward to getting started."

Speaking after the service Philip said: "It was a lovely service.

"When I heard it was the culmination of nearly eight years work I was surprised.

"It’s a great thing, as it offers the whole community a place to come together, and they've have done such a fantastic job.

He added: "I'm sorry she's not here obviously, but as I'm sure you can appreciate it's difficult with the general election."

The church raised £521,000 over the last three years to fund the building of the hall, including two significant gifts totalling £150,000 from the Cayo Foundation and the David Brownlow Charitable Foundation, which were used to pay off a loan the church had taken out to help fund the project.

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