A LIFELINE Lottery grant of almost £150,000 has boosted Avoncroft Museum's hopes of surviving through the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 19-acre Stoke Heath museum had been reduced to appealing for donations from the public after being forced to close for several months by lockdown.

However, it has now been handed a grant of £141,400 by the National Lottery Heritage Emergency Fund that museum chiefs say will 'go a long way to increasing the chances of short-term survival'.

Avoncroft bosses are hopeful the four months' worth of emergency funding will also help the museum - which has struggled financially even before lockdown in recent times - bloom again in the long-term.

Nick Sturgess, acting deputy director of Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings, said: “Avoncroft is a hugely valued asset to the communities of the Midlands.

"We are therefore grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for their continued support and cannot thank them enough for awarding us this emergency grant.

“We have now re-opened the museum as part of a gradual, phased plan.

"Being an open-air museum, we can open the grounds safely to our visitors, volunteers and staff, by both following government guidance and by introducing Covid-safe practices.

“We expect to be able to give access to buildings’ interiors very soon, and begin offering catering and events as soon as possible.

"The Lottery grant brings all this so much closer, we’d like to thank all National Lottery players for making this possible.”

As the museum does not receive any government or local authority funding, the charity relies on generating income through admissions, functions and retail.

The loss of four months’ trading has devastated the charity’s finances, with popular events, including Easter, May Day and Spring Bank Holiday all cancelled, while bills have still had to be paid.

But it has now benefited from a slice of almost £50million that has been made available by the lottery fund for organisations most in need across the heritage sector.

Ros Kerslake, chief executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Heritage has an essential role to play in making communities better places to live, supporting economic regeneration and benefitting our personal wellbeing.

"All of these things are going to be even more important as we emerge from this current crisis.

“Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we are pleased to be able to lend our support to organisations such as Avoncroft Museum during this uncertain time.”

Avoncroft Museum tells the story of Midlanders' life through their buildings from the Tudor period to the 1950s and is also home to the National Collection of Telephone Kiosks

It became England’s first open-air museum when it opened in 1967 and is home to more than 30 historic buildings and structures, spanning seven centuries, which have been rescued from demolition and rebuilt.