Restoration gains Heritage Lottery Fund Success

Gracehill Old School Trust (GhOST) have just been granted a Stage 2 pass from HLF. This is vital to the full-scale restoration of the old primary school.

The Grade B listed school which dates back to the late eighteenth century is situated in the centre of Gracehill, Northern Ireland’s first designated Conservation area and the only complete Moravian settlement in Ireland. The award-winning village has received many accolades over the years including a European Europa Nostra award. Most recently the village has been involved in a joint bid with other European settlements for World Heritage Status

Alongside the Church, the old school is one of the most significant buildings in the village.   Its central status has evoked strong support amongst the village leading to the creation of the Gracehill Old School Trust (GhOST), a charitable building preservation trust.   With advice from the Association of Preservation Trusts and the support of Ballymena Borough Council they have developed plans for the building and sought funding to make those plans a reality.

The grant will enable the Trust to purchase, restore and ultimately reopen the building for the community.  Plans for the building include an after school activity club, café and a historical exhibition detailing the history of the village and the School. The Trust is also planning a series of events and activities to encourage school and members of the public to learn more about the history of this unique village.  An exciting programme of heritage open days, tours and educational activities is being developed as part of the HLF grant.

Speaking after the announcement David Johnston, Chairman of the Trust said

“We are absolutely delighted to have received this incredible support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The grant is a huge boost to Gracehill and Ballymena that will allow us to complete the purchase of the Old School building and undertake a significant part of the restoration. We will need to raise additional funding but the Heritage Lottery Fund is the core funder and without them we simply could not have progressed.

I must also thank Ballymena Borough Council for their professional support and significant financial contribution to the project as well as the many members of the community who encouraged us to continue over the last five years.

Personally I would also like to pay tribute to the dedication and enthusiasm of the trustees of GhOST and thank them for their resolute support. We have been working hard and we feel that we have an exciting scheme, which not only has the support of the wider community but also is viable and sustainable. This project will certainly assist the local area but we believe that given Gracehills unique history and international connections the potential for regional benefit is significant”

Explaining the importance of the award, HLF’s Kevin Baird said, “Gracehill Old School is a key building in the village that deserves to be rescued and opened up to as many people as possible. Once a central part of the Moravian settlement and now a community space for the whole village, this historic building and its fascinating history will be given a new lease of life.”

DETAILS of HOW TO SUPPORT GhOST

If you would like to support the Trust or can help in any way we would like to hear from you. The Trust can be contacted by email at johnstonni@aol.com or by writing to the honorary secretary, Mrs Pamela Irwin, 6, Church Road, Gracehill, Co Antrim. BT42 2NL.

Donations can also be sent to the above address and there is also the facility to give on-line.  Thank you for your support.

About Heritage Lottery Fund

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) enables communities to celebrate, look after and learn more about our diverse heritage.  From our great museums and historic buildings to local parks and beauty spots or recording and celebrating traditions, customs and history, HLF grants open up our nation’s heritage for everyone to enjoy. Since its conception in 1994, HLF have supported 18,000 projects allocating over £3.3 billion across the UK. In Northern Ireland we have awarded over £100 millio

For further information, please contact:

Nicky Price, Heritage Lottery Fund – Tel: 020 7591 6046, email nickyp@hlf.org.uk

Website: www.hlf.org.uk

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