OFFENDERS paying back their crime in the community have finished an eight-year project at a local church.

In 2003 the playgroup at Hallfold United Reformed Church in Hall Street, Whitworth, asked Lancashire Probation for help levelling ground and building an aluminium shed for storage.

Since then, teams of up to 10 offenders have spent their Saturdays at the church learning how to plaster, fit doors and windows, gardening, masonry work, rebuilding garden boundary walls, roofing and slate construction skills.

The link-up has even led to church elders and offenders drinking together to mark the end of their sentences.

Probation supervisor Chris Penny said: “This started off as just another project, the church elders were willing to accommodate us and it was clear that there was a lot of work to do. joinery, plumbing, stonework and groundwork.”

A plaque has been unveiled by the Whitworth Mayor Dave Bradbury at Hallfold United Reformed Church.