The future of a Ukrainian chapel opened after the Second World War is assured.
Ukrainian Hallmuir Chapel in Lockerbie has received a grant of over £50,000 from South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE).
The money will enable vital repairs to the Grade-B listed building and improve its hard landscaping and surrounding boundaries.
It will also see the development of a visitor center and further work to promote the chapel – with collaboration to be undertaken with the South of Scotland Destination Alliance.
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Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie said: ‘I am delighted Ukrainian Hallmuir Chapel has received a grant from South of Scotland Enterprise, to continue its important work supporting the people of Lockerbie and Dumfriesshire.
“The chapel opened in the years following World War II to support Ukrainian soldiers working in the local community. 75 years later, it will now also be a place of refuge and support for those displaced from Ukraine who are now arriving in Scotland.
“This funding will enable the restoration of the chapel building and the opening of a visitor center, so people can learn more about their important work and history.
“I hope this support means that communities can continue to gather at Ukrainian Hallmuir Chapel for many years to come.”
The chapel has been undergoing repairs and fittings in phases since 2018, but progress has been hampered by winter storms and the Covid pandemic.
The Chapel was not eligible for any government grants or subsidies, which left their team less than halfway to an £80,000 goal in the summer of 2021.
However, in October 2021, the chapel successfully approached the economic and community development agency SOSE for support.
The building was first turned into a chapel by Ukrainian prisoners of war in the years following World War II, when more than 400 Ukrainian soldiers were sent to work on nearby farms and forests.
Many Ukrainians chose to stay in the Dumfriesshire area after the war, church services are regularly held for locals.
The chapel has become a focal point for collecting humanitarian aid for those caught up in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Mike Ostapko of Hallmuir Chapel said: “It has been a long process to get to where we are today, and we have faced several unprecedented challenges along the way.
“Closing our doors to visitors during the pandemic has made fundraising particularly difficult, but we knew we could not abandon such an important pillar of our local Ukrainian community in Dumfriesshire.
“We are pleased to have now received funding from SOSE to initiate repair work to restore the chapel.
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“It has proven to be a vital location for fundraising during the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and we hope it will continue to be an important location for years to come.”
SOSE Chairman Professor Russel Griggs hailed the chapel as an “asset to the local community”.
He said: ‘It’s vital that we do all we can to help preserve buildings like this, which are steeped in history and serve a very important purpose for the people who use them.
“Our funding will help ensure the safety and longevity of the building so that it remains a key part of the local community for years to come.”