CHESTER Cathedral has received a grant of £884,000 from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help the organisation recover and reopen.

Nearly £400 million has been awarded to thousands of cultural organisations across the country, including Chester Cathedral in the latest round of support from the Culture Recovery Fund, the Culture Secretary has announced.

The cathedral was forced to take drastic measures to ensure the viability of the organisation since the start of Covid, to minimise the gap between income and expenditure.

Staff levels were reduced, reserves expended and loans taken to cover losses incurred through 2020.

This award will enable the cathedral to reopen and reconnect with the city and its communities.

The venue is this week open as a Covid testing site for people without symptoms.

Over £800 million in grants and loans has already been awarded to support almost 3,800 cinemas, performance venues, museums, heritage sites and other cultural organisations dealing with the immediate challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Our record-breaking Culture Recovery Fund has already helped thousands of culture and heritage organisations across the country survive the biggest crisis they've ever faced.

"Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back through their doors - helping our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in the better times ahead."

Dean of Chester, the Very Revd Dr Tim Stratford, said: “It is great news that a grant of up to £884,000 is to be made through the Cultural Recovery Fund to Chester Cathedral.

"This will make a huge difference whilst we prepare to open our doors to visitors again.

"I hope this means that the cathedral will be able to make a great contribution as the cultural, heritage and spiritual heart of Chester in the way we did before Covid, benefitting both the local community and its economy as well as enriching the lives of visitors.”

Ros Kerslake, CEO of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Spring is definitely here, bringing not only sunshine but that sense of optimism and hope for the future.

"We are all looking forward to heritage places and other visitor attractions reopening and I am very pleased that we have been able to support DCMS in delivering this vital funding to ensure the UK’s heritage sector can rebuild and thrive, boosting local economies, creating jobs and supporting personal wellbeing.”

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: “The value of our heritage sites and the people who run them has been amply demonstrated, as they have provided an anchor for so many of us through the dark days of the last year.

"Vital grants from the Culture Recovery Fund have helped them survive and will now help them recover, as the places we all cherish start to reopen in the months ahead.”

The funding has been awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England as well as the British Film Institute and Arts Council England.