Grant makes urgent repairs possible for Katherine Jenkins' former church

St David's Church, Neath

Classical singer Katherine Jenkins has spoken of her delight at a grant being made to a historic Welsh church where she used to be a chorister.

St David's Church, Neath, will receive £199,300 towards the cost of renovating its tower and repairs to the chancel and Lady Chapel.

The grant makes up a sizable portion of the church's £500,000 appeal to cover the cost of the repairs.

Jenkins is a former chorister at St David's and held a fundraising concert at the church in May.

She said: "I am delighted that St David's church has received this development funding to take out much needed repairs. I have been very proud to support this beautiful church over the years and have been closely involved in helping the congregation to secure its future. I fondly recall the many opportunities I had to sing at St David's when growing up in Neath, which played a big part in my development as a performer."

Canon Stephen Ryan, Rector of Neath, said he was thrilled by news of the grant.

"Everyone in the community will be delighted as St David's is one of the town's best known landmarks and we have had a huge amount of local support for renovation since launching our £500,000 appeal to save the church tower. This grant will be a big boost towards that target," he said.

In Bedwas, St Barrwg's Church will receive £180,300 to cover the cost of repairing its roof and upgrading facilities, including the addition of a toilet and kitchen. The money will also enable the church to eradicate an infestation of death watch beetle which forced its closure. The church will reopen once the infestation has been dealt with and the repair work completed.

Alex Glanville, head of Property Services for the Church in Wales said, "This new grant is fantastic news for this important landmark building. The building will be restored but also be available for a wider range of people and activities – it will really take the church forward in the heart of the community for the future."

Reverend Peter Crocker, vicar of St Barrwg's, added, "It is so sad that St Barrwg's has had to be closed all this time but given the condition there was no option. This grant gives us the chance to re-open the church both for worship but also for use by everyone in the area – as a congregation we are very excited by the possibilities."

A public meeting will be held on 28 August to give members of the local community the chance to have their say about how the building can be used in the future.

St Barrwg's and St David's are among 35 across the UK to be awarded a grant through Heritage Lottery Fund's new Grants for Places of Worship programme.

The programme replaces the Repair Grants for Places of Worship scheme and will fund not only repairs but improvements to church buildings that will allow them to widen their usage within the community.

Jennifer Stewart, Head of HLF Wales, said, "There is a place of worship in almost every ward, village and town across Wales, providing a very powerful visual connection with our past. Not only will our awards secure the immediate future of these particular buildings, it will also empower congregations to adapt them, where necessary, so they can be enjoyed more widely throughout the community and in turn enable them be more sustainable for the future."