A CHURCH in urgent need of repair has been thrown a lifeline by the National Lottery.

St Mary’s Church, in Sand Hutton, is a Grade-II listed building built in 1840. The building is on the Heritage at Risk register, and its distinctive tower and spire "require urgent repair".

Now the church council's Tower and Spire Restoration Project, which aims to preserve the church and its heritage and to create new facilities to attract more people, has received a boost of £19,700 in development funding from the Lottery.

This initial grant been awarded to help St Mary's undertake specialist investigations and to progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.

Rector Chris Wingfield, chairman of St Mary’s PCC, said: "We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. St Mary's Church has been at the heart of this community for 175 years and it is great to know that we are a step closer to preserving it and its heritage for future generations."

The intention is to carry out urgent fabric repairs to the tower, spire, lower walls stonework, roofs, rainwater goods and drainage.

In addition, the church council want to provide new toilet facilities, a kitchenette and improvements to disabled access through the south porch doors.

St Mary’s Church was designed by English architect Anthony Salvin and features several stained-glass windows by Charles Eamer Kempe.

The project aims to deliver essential conservation work, but also to bring the church into wider use and raise awareness of its heritage.

Heritage afternoons or evenings are planned, where people come to view and share artefacts and information on the history of the villages, local area and community.

National Lottery Heritage Grants applications are assessed in two rounds. A first-round pass is given when they endorse outline proposals and earmark funding. Detailed proposals are then considered by the Lottery at second-round and, as long as plans have progressed according to the original proposal, an award for the project is confirmed.