The East Lancashire Railway has received vital and timely financial support of £194,300 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help it recover from the impact of Coronavirus.

East Lancashire Railway train

Lockdown forced the cherished heritage attraction in Bury, Gtr Manchester to cease operations between March and August - depriving it of vital income and plunging its future into uncertainty.

The new funding will be used to undertake essential track maintenance, cover the additional costs incurred with making the railway Covid safe and upgrade its online presence.

ELR Chairman Mike Kelly said: “Thanks to the National Lottery and its players we can now ensure the railway keeps running - providing wonderful heritage days out for visitors of all ages.

“Recent months have been the most challenging in our history, threatening our very existence and after a huge effort by our volunteers and a small cohort of staff we were overjoyed to be able to re-launch heritage services successfully last month.

“This funding helps secure the future of our railway by giving us the means to make essential repairs, upgrade our digital presence and cover the investment we have made to make the railway Covid safe and reassure our visitors we are ‘Good to Go’.

“At the ELR we have the determination to survive and so we are hugely grateful and re-energised that The National Lottery Heritage Fund is supporting us at this crucial time – it’s an important and welcome lifeline to our volunteers and staff who are passionate about sustaining a heritage railway for the benefit of all.”

The funding, made possible by National Lottery players, was awarded through The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Heritage Emergency Fund. £50million was made available to provide emergency funding for those most in need across the heritage sector.

The UK-wide fund aimed to address both immediate emergency actions and help organisations to start thinking about recovery.

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Heritage has an essential role to play in making communities better places to live, supporting economic regeneration and benefiting our personal wellbeing. All of these things are going to be even more important as we emerge from this current crisis.

“Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we are pleased to be able to lend our support to organisations such as The East Lancashire Railway during this uncertain time.”

Shortly after lockdown was introduced, the East Lancashire Railway Support Fund was launched in a bid to raise funds to secure the railway’s future. Total donations to date have now reached £145,000, while it also received a further £125,000 from the  East Lancs Railway Preservation Society.

Like The East Lancashire Railway, other charities and organisations across the UK that have been affected by the unprecedented impact of the Coronavirus outbreak are being given access to a comprehensive package of support of up to £600 million of repurposed money from The National Lottery. This money is supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and spans the arts, community, charity, heritage, education, environment and sports sectors.

Thanks to National Lottery players, £30 million is raised every week for good causes, including heritage of local and national importance. By playing The National Lottery, people up and down the country are making an amazing contribution to the nationwide-response to combating the impact of COVID-19 on local communities across the UK.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Heritage Emergency Fund is now closed for applications. To find out more about how The National Heritage Emergency Fund is supporting the sector at this time please visit:  https://www.heritagefund.org.uk/responding-coronavirus-covid-19

To find out more about the National Lottery Good Causes , visit:  https://www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/coronavirus-pandemic-response

To view the ELR timetable and book tickets visit: eastlancsrailway.org.uk.

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