VISIONARY plans, securing the future of one of Worcester’s oldest places of Christian worship, are set come to fruition thanks to a £221,500 cash windfall.

St Helen’s Church, on Fish Street, has been awarded the cash boost from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Previously, development funding of up to £28,400, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, was awarded to All Saints Church on Deansway, whose community uses the building, to progress its proposals for St Helen’s.

The ambitious project will see essential restoration work carried out to its 13th Century stonework, as well as funding new resources – including interactive displays, timelines and videos - that would bring to life the church’s rich Medieval and Civil War history.

All Saints currently uses St Helen’s to host weekly services, a Christians Against Poverty (CAP) job club and a music themed toddler group.

Over the coming months, lottery funding will help provide a packed programme of new activities including tourist trails, history days, art exhibitions, health and wellbeing events, lectures, and concerts.

Reverend Dr Rich Johnson, Vicar of All Saints, said: "We are absolutely thrilled to have secured this funding. It’s a huge vote of confidence in our vision for St Helen’s, which will enable us to embrace and serve the needs of our city for generations to come."

It is believed the site of St Helen’s has been a place of Christian worship since at least the early 7th Century, pre-dating the monastery which later became Worcester Cathedral.

The oldest part of the existing building – the North Wall – dates back to 1288 but most of St Helen’s was rebuilt in the 15th Century before undergoing another major restoration in the late 1800s.

During the Second World War the church served as a soldiers’ club before an agreement was reached for it to become a branch of the county council’s Record Office in 1957.

But in 2003 it was revived by the congregation of All Saints Church as a place of worship, prayer and community events.

Vanessa Harbar, Head of HLF West Midlands, said: "We’re delighted that, thanks to National Lottery players, we can continue to support St Helen’s Church in securing this building for the future and sharing its fascinating heritage with visitors and local people of all ages."

Repairs to the stonework will begin early next year but the church is already gearing up to train a team of history ambassadors that will bring to life the story of St Helen’s fascinating past for school children and tourists.