ESSENTIAL conservation work can now get underway at St Bride’s Parish Church in Sanquhar thanks to a £217,000 National Lottery grant.

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the project will see the church and tower roofs fully re-slated.

It will also allow the church to display some of its rich heritage including ancient carvings, documents, artefacts and the 1695 Kirk Session minute book.

Commenting on the award, Session Clerk Duncan Close said: “We are delighted that we’ve received this support thanks to National Lottery players.

“The parish church is an important place for the majority of the towns folk, and the large seating area allows other events to take place within the church.

“The roof and fabric are in need of serious attention, and with the help of the National Lottery we can ensure the survival of this very fine building for many years to come.

“Local funders have also given full support, and we are grateful to SWEAT and Propel for their important contributions which have allowed this project to get to this stage.”

Volunteers have been trained, and free guided tours will be available once the building work is complete. In addition, a short history of St Bride’s has been written, and together with illustrated leaflets will tell visitors and locals much of the unknown history of the church.

Lucy Casot, head of HLF Scotland, added: “Scotland’s historic and diverse places of worship are so often at the heart of our communities.

“HLF has funded urgent structural repairs and also improved facilities and visitor information.

“St Bride’s roof renewal and open heritage is an excellent example of how HLF can help conserve a much loved building so it can continue to serve its local community.”