Around 165 visitors queued down the street in Langley Park recently to see an abandoned former chapel re-open its doors – as a booming new business.
The chapel, in Front Street, has been empty for two years. But it’s been brought back to life after a £250,000 revamp by a husband-and-wife team of Durham physiotherapists.
The transformation has created a real buzz in the village – so Vicky and Mark Smith decided the best way to celebrate its opening was to invite everyone in.
The new centre will not only host their business, but is also providing a home for other therapists offering services ranging from counselling to Chinese medicine, and classes including yoga, Pilates and meditation.
“We expected about 100 people to come along to our open day, but there were so many more!” said Vicky, who has been a physiotherapist with the NHS and the corporate world for 25 years.
Mark has also been a physio for many years, working in North East hospitals, with local sports teams and in the private sector.
The couple, who live in Durham, set up Taylored Fit Physio four years together, and had been looking for a site for their business for a while when they spotted the chapel.
“It was much bigger than we’d planned – and it really needed a lot of work,” said Vicky.
“But we thought it was a fantastic building with so much space, and we also loved Langley Park so we thought it would be a real boost to the community to open our business there.”
Mark and Vicky won funding for their grand design from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
“That made a big difference to the project,” said Vicky. “When we bought the chapel, it still had its original vestry and pulpit, so we’ve preserved the spirit of the old building while giving it a much more contemporary twist.”
Vicky and Mark have already created a job for a full-time receptionist at the chapel, which will now be home to eight other therapists.
As well as expert physio, customers will be able to receive sports massage, try craniosacral therapy, musculoskeletal podiatry and therapies including cupping, Reiki and even crystal healing.
“We’ve had a fantastic response from other therapists and teachers who wanted to join us at the chapel,” said Vicky.
Special guests on the open day included Mark and Vicky’s existing customers, and also their four children – Ella, 11, twins Chloe and Zack, 8, and Josh, 6.
“We call them the Smithettes, and we wanted them to be there because they’ve been so patient with Mum and Dad spending so much time working on the chapel!” said Vicky.
“They’ve played a real part – they drew pictures on the walls for us, and helped us put together a time capsule to hide in the building.”
The couple now hope the chapel will continue to be a busy hub for the Langley Park community.
“We’d like to thank everyone who came along to see the chapel,” said Vicky.
“We were really pleased to see so many neighbours there on the day as well as our customers, and we hope the chapel will now go on to be a thriving hub for Langley Park for many years to come.”