A CHURCH which plays an important part in Sanquhar community life has had a funding boost.

St Bride’s Parish Church in the town has received more than £5,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

This will help kickstart the St Bride’s Church Roof Renewal and Open Heritage Project, which has also been supported by church members and the wider community.

The project will make the iconic building watertight, enabling it to remain as a place of worship in the Royal Burgh as well as numerous community uses.

These include school assemblies, Riding of the Marches services, and visitors from near and far who are captivated by the church’s heritage.

An initial £5,100 has also been awarded to help St Bride’s progress its plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.

Essential conservation work will be carried out by stripping the entire roof, repairing woodwork, and fitting new slates and leadwork.

Volunteer guides will be trained by Sanquhar Heritage Society to enable tours of the church to be undertaken.

While school assemblies will continue to take place — as the only building in the area that can seat 200 people — selected pupils will also be able to play the church’s magnificent Hilsdon Pipe organ.

There has been a church on the site since 600AD, while the current one was built in 1823/24 and contains several very interesting and historical artefacts.

It is intended to have these items on view to the public, for the first time, in a Heritage Corner, while stained glass windows by a well known Glasgow firm will retain their unique appeal.

Duncan Close, session clerk at St Bride’s, said: “We’re delighted that we’ve received this support thanks to National Lottery players.

“The church has played an important part in the lives of local people for centuries, and it’s great to know that we are a step closer to preserving it for another century.”