KIDDERMINSTER's Severn Valley Railway is one of 445 heritage sites across the country set to receive a lifesaving cash boost from the government to help it survive the coronavirus pandemic.

The SVR will receive £906,000 to help it through the next six months. The money will pay for staff salaries and fund enhanced security measures to protect the railway's heritage assets.

These will include CCTV and fire detection systems, as well as fire and intruder alarms.

Kidderminster Shuttle: MP Nigel Huddleston being interviewed at the Severn Valley RailwayMP Nigel Huddleston being interviewed at the Severn Valley Railway

It comes after one of the SVR's buildings near Highley fell victim to an arson attack during the coronavirus lockdown.

Chairman of the Severn Valley Railway, Nick Paul CBE, said: “This funding will play an essential part in the SVR’s survival through the pandemic.

"We expect to have lost around £2.5 million in revenue this year as a direct result of the lockdown and subsequent restrictions.

"Although we’ve been running services again for more than two months now, we won’t be able to make up for such a severe drop in income.

"The Severn Valley Railway plays a huge part in the Midlands economy and is close to the hearts of the 250,000 visitors who come to us every year.

Kidderminster Shuttle: Nigel Huddleston MP and volunteer Robert Dunn at the SVRNigel Huddleston MP and volunteer Robert Dunn at the SVR

"Thanks to this generous government funding, we’ll be able to keep the railway running so it can continue to be a source of community pride in the future.”

As part of the SVR’s survival plan, the grant will also help improve its digital and social media communications to better interact with communities and engage a wider audience.

The railway will also be recruiting a health and safety specialist to ensure it is following the additional safety demands that are necessary because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the recipients of the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund were announced on Friday, October 9, the railway was preparing to welcome the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, Nigel Huddlestone MP.

Kidderminster Shuttle: MP Nigel Huddleston at the SVRMP Nigel Huddleston at the SVR

The minister met the footplate crew of one of the SVR’s steam locomotives and visited a unique mobile exhibition inside a specially adapted brake van. He also spoke with some of the SVR's 1,800 volunteers.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “As a nation it is essential that we preserve our heritage and celebrate and learn from our past.

"This massive support package will protect our shared heritage for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounce back post-Covid.”