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Update on Ukrainian heritage hub project

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By Fiona Reid
Lockerbie and Lochmaben
Update on Ukrainian heritage hub project

A FUNDING push is underway to complete a small visitor facility, including Ukrainian heritage hub, in an original barrack building at a former prisoner-of-war camp near Lockerbie.

The latest work follows careful restoration, including a new roof, windows and door, at the neighbouring grade-B listed camp chapel, used by displaced Ukrainians held there after World War II, most working in local agriculture and forestry.

Lockerbie Friends of Ukraine, the group behind the project at Hallmuir, have already greatly improved the second building, which has been renovated externally, rewired and plastered inside.

The hut was long-term home of choice for one of the original prisoners, the late Willie Chomonczak, after the camp was closed. He lived there and helped care for the chapel until he retired from his job on the Castlemilk estate, returning to his homeland in the early 1990s.

Additional fundraising is now underway by the Friends in order to complete the internal work on the barrack hut which will include a meeting area, historical display and kitchen.

The earlier chapel restoration and initial landscaping and car park improvements were partly completed through a £52,000 grant from South of Scotland Enterprise.

Hallmuir Chapel has remained a focal point for local efforts to provide vital supplies for the Ukrainian Territorial Army and civilians since the illegal attack on the country by President Putin’s Russian regime.

The Dumfriesshire site was visited by the then Ukrainian ambassador to the UK and other diplomats only months before the conflict began.

Friends of Lockerbie Ukrainians archivist, Peter Kormylo, this week praised progress with the project and expressed thanks to individuals and organisations who have so far contributed and local contractors for going ‘above and beyond.’

He said: “The restoration work so far has been completed to a high standard and is greatly appreciated by those who attend the monthly services, together with the established and new local Ukrainian communities and an increasing number of visitors.

“The site will continue to open on a part-time basis, be run by our volunteers and, depending on the level of interest and funding, develop further organically.

“It will tell the story of the camp and chapel, why the Ukrainians arrived there after the war, describe how many became a valued part of the local community and the ongoing links with Ukraine at this difficult time.”

Dumfriesshire MP David Mundell has been a long-time supporter of the chapel. He said: “The chapel and the neighbouring former barrack building are a perfect combination.

“There is a calming, reflective atmosphere in the chapel and, if sufficient funding can be secured to move forward, the second building will provide further historical context.

“It will also be an excellent small venue for meetings and other events for those with Ukrainian connections and the wider local community.”

n Any businesses or individuals wishing details on how to help sponsor the next work phase at the Ukrainian heritage hub can obtain more information from Peter Kormylo on 07979 274968.

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