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Funding secures future of WWII chapel

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By Fiona Reid
Funding secures future of WWII chapel

THE future of the historic Hallmuir Ukrainian chapel near Lockerbie has been secured.

South of Scotland Enteprise (SOSE) has provided a grant of over £50,000 to conduct vital repairs to the grade-B listed building, as well as make significant improvements to its hard landscaping and surrounding boundary.

The funding will also help to develop a small visitor centre and raise the profile of the chapel, with work also being undertaken in collaboration with South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA).

The chapel has been undergoing £80,000 of repairs and developments in phases since 2018, but progress has been hugely hindered by the impacts of the pandemic and a series of winter storms.

As they did not qualify for any government grants or subsidies, they approached SOSE for support.

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 made fundraising particularly difficult, but we knew we couldn’t give up on such an important pillar of our local Ukrainian community in Dumfriesshire.

“We are pleased to have now received funding from SOSE to get repair work underway to restore the chapel.

“It has proved a critical location for collection of donations during the ongoing Ukraine conflict, and we hope it will continue to be an important venue for years to come.”

Professor Russel Griggs, SOSE chair, said: “Supporting community-led projects like the Hallmuir Ukrainian Chapel is as important to SOSE as supporting businesses.

“The chapel is an asset to the local Lockerbie community, and it is vital that we do everything we can to help preserve buildings such as this, which are steeped in history and serve a very important purpose to the people that use them.

“Our funding will help to ensure the safety and longevity of the building so that it remains a key part of the local community for years to come.”

Hallmur was first re-purposed as 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 forestry.

It has remained a venue of great importance over the years to the many Ukrainians who chose to stay in the area after the war, and still regularly hosts church services for locals.