PARISHIONERS will pick up their hammers and drills along with their collection money when they head to Malmesbury Abbey next Sunday.

Preparations for the 2014 skate festival start with the 4pm family service.

The half term event, which is in its sixth year, will see the ancient landmark building transformed into an indoor skate park with 120 bales of hay, packing crates and plywood.

Festival organiser Sarah McGrory said: “A lot of people asked us at the start of planning this year’s event, was there still a need for Abbey Skate now we had the new skate park in town?

“Well it’s about more than skating, now it’s about community and family. We have extended the event to include younger ones with the softplay and added a few extra under-eight sessions. But most of all for me this year it is about the support we have had from the skate community at the new skatepark,” she explained.

“They are helping us with set up and organising their opening times to coincide with ours so they don't clash. The event is a prime example of what can happen when people respect one another and are prepared to work alongside one another.”

Hundreds of youngsters from Malmesbury and further afield flock to the abbey to take part in the skate and scooter sessions, some of which are booked up within hours of becoming available online.

The programme also features a soft play session for tots at the start of the half term week, dance workshops, live music, soft toymaking and dedicated sessions on the ramps for wheelchair users .

Vicar Neill Archer said the festival was evolving every year. “At the heart of the event is the message to the young people of Malmesbury that the Abbey is as much a building for them as it is for everyone, and that God and the church community loves them.”

Phil Williams, director of Christian Surfers and Skaters UK, which helps to stage the event, added: ”It's a fantastic opportunity to partner with Malmesbury Abbey, and to provide a great facility to practically serve the communities of skateboarding that do not normally enter a church building.”

Visit for full programme details.