Hallmuir Ukrainian Chapel has been provided with a grant of over £50,000 by South of Scotland Enteprise (SOSE) to conduct vital repairs to its Grade-B listed building, as well as make significant improvements to its hard landscaping and surrounding boundary.
The grant 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 repairs and developments in phases since 2018, but progress has been hugely hindered by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and a series of winter storms.
The Chapel did not qualify for any government grants or subsidies, which left them less than halfway towards its target of £80,000 in summer 2021.
However, in October 2021, the Chapel approached SOSE for support, and the economic and community development agency was eager to ensure the building’s repair and development was prioritised.
The building was first re-purposed as a chapel by Ukrainian prisoners of war (POW) in the years following World War II, when more than 400 Ukrainian soldiers were sent to work on nearby farms and forestry.
The Chapel has remained a venue of great importance over the years to the many Ukrainians who chose to stay in the Dumfriesshire area after the war, and still regularly hosts church services for locals.
Seventy five years later in 2022, the Chapel has become a focal point for gathering humanitarian aid for those who are caught up in the current conflict taking place in 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 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.”
Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie said:
“I’m delighted that the Hallmuir Ukrainian Chapel has received a grant from South of Scotland Enterprise, to continue its important work supporting people in Lockerbie and Dumfriesshire.
“The chapel first opened in the years following World War Two to support Ukrainian soldiers working in the local community. Seventy five years on, it will now also be a place of sanctuary and support for displaced people from Ukraine now arriving in Scotland.
“This funding will enable the restoration of the chapel building and the opening of a visitor centre, so that people can learn about their important work and history.
“I hope that this support means communities can continue to come together at the Hallmuir Ukrainian Chapel for many years to come.”