Churches and parishioners collect £750,000 Lottery cash to preserve listed buildings
Eight historic churches and chapels in the South West have received a Lottery windfall to help pay for much-needed repairs and to make them more sustainable in future.
Places of worship in Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are to share £751,800 in new Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) cash.
Portbury Church in Somerset is amongst the first of 35 churches across the UK to be awarded a grant through HLF's new Grants for Places of Worship programme.
St John's Church in Yeovil received £162,200, the Church of St Nicholas on Tresco, £106,000, St George the Martyr, in Truro, was given a grant of £64,000, and Ottery St Mary United Reformed Church was handed £99,000.
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The money is to help congregations address a back log of urgent repairs to listed churches and chapels, and supersedes the Repair Grants for Places of Worship scheme.
It will also support and encourage greater community use and engagement, helping to increase the number of people who will care for the buildings in future.
The grants will provide new toilets and kitchens;, create historical exhibitions, leaflets and guide books, commission skills training for volunteer tour guides;and develop digital marketing tools including websites and web-based tools such as apps.
Nerys Watts, head of HLF South West, said; "There is a place of worship in almost every ward, village and town across the South West of England, providing a very powerful visual connection with our past."
Dr Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, which provides expert advice for the programme, said: "There is so much more to this project than just making the physical structures safe and sound.
By providing money for visitor facilities, exhibitions, books and tour guides, the grants are going to help the public enjoy and appreciate these buildings. This is a vital part of keeping our heritage alive."