CONGRATULATIONS to a Beaminster church which has won a prestigious award.

St Mary's Church has been awarded a gold eco church award which is one of just 12 such awards in England and Wales and it is the first church to receive the award in the Diocese of Salisbury.

The award, which was given by A Rocha UK, a charity aiming to mobilise Christians and churches in the UK to care for the environment, comes after three years of effort by St Mary's eco committee which included a change to more environmentally friendly heating, eco events, litter picking, toilet twinning and a plan to be zero carbon by 2030.

Dr Gill Perrott signed her parish and its medieval church up for the eco church scheme. She said: "I am really delighted and want to give a big thank you to the ECO Church team for their support & hard work in achieving the Gold ECO Award.

"I am also grateful to our long-suffering church members who have put up with my pleas for ECO items and projects."

Revd Canon David Baldwin, team rector of the Beaminster area team ministry, added: "I'd like to congratulate Gill and all her team on this fantastic achievement. As our local 'eco warrior' she has changed not only the Church but also our whole way of life in Beaminster. We are now more fully active stewards of God's creation."

In making the award to St Mary's Church, the A Rocha assessors said: "It was wonderful to hear how deeply embedded your church is in your local community; with strong links to your local MP and local council too. It is so clear that your church mission is outward looking and serving the community as well as forward looking and that is reflected in each of the survey categories too.

"Thank you for sharing so many inspiring examples; we took particular note of your tree planting endeavours especially as an example of great community networking and as an illustration of the link between involvement and mission."