£300k answer to church's prayers
THE prayers of a church congregation desperate for a home of their own have been answered after the Welsh Government blessed them with a £300,000 award.
Baglan Community Church took over an old social club last year but struggled to find enough money to fulfil its vision of turning it into the thriving heart of the village.
Now the money from the Community Facilities and Activities Programme will allow it to renovate the ground floor and provide a multipurpose room, youth room, coffee shop and curtain walls.
The church outgrew its original home in Baglan Community Centre and bought the former Baglan Social Club in Lodge Drive when it closed down and was put up for sale.
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Its bid for Welsh Government cash was originally turned down but has been approved second time round. Pastor Neil Tallamy said: "I had a phone call only ten minutes ago and I'm absolutely ecstatic.
"I'll be straight on the phone telling people about it. The money means we can get on with a lot of the work we want to do very soon, and the rest can be finished at our own pace.
"It's going to be fantastic. We're doing a lot of work ourselves. A lot of our own money is going to refurbish the upstairs to provide concert facilities as well as a church hall, and we have already put a lift in."
Mr Tallamy said the church hoped to be able to move into the social club by early summer, possibly June, with the community elements opening once the work was completed.
"We're desperate to be able to get the building up and running," he added. "It has been frustrating, not being able to move at the pace we would like to but now we are really excited."
Aberavon AM David Rees said: "I am delighted this project has been chosen to receive funding and I would like to congratulate all those involved in the application.
"I hope the new facility will go on to work in partnership with, and complement, the work done by other facilities in the area, including the chill out centre located close by."
Baglan councillor Peter Richards said: "It will be great to see a building which has been standing empty come back into full use once again.
"This money, in addition to the £114,000 granted by the Welsh Government for modernising the library, will see major improvements in Baglan," he added.