A WINDFALL of £45,700 will enable Taunton's premier church to fully re-open.

The cash handed to St Mary Magdalene Church from the second round of the Government's Culture Recovery Fund will also go on resuming service at the church's café and book and gift shop.

Nearly £400million has been awarded to thousands of cultural organisations across the country.

The vicar, the Rev Tobie Osmond said the money would allow St Mary’s to resume its work supporting the community from the youngest to the eldest through all its activity groups.

He added: "It has been a challenging year for everybody, but these funds will really help us as we move forward with all the projects that have had to be put on hold.

"God is working his purpose out amongst the congregation here at St Mary’s and we are desperate to meet together again.

"This money means we are able to grow our ministry serving others in the centre of Taunton."

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "Our record breaking Culture Recovery Fund has already helped thousands of culture and heritage organisations across the country survive the biggest crisis they've ever faced.

"Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back through their doors - helping our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in the better times ahead."

Ros Kerslake, chief executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Spring is definitely here, bringing not only sunshine but that sense of optimism and hope for the future.

"We are all looking forward to heritage places and other visitor attractions reopening and I am very pleased that we have been able to support The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in delivering this vital funding to ensure the UK’s heritage sector can rebuild and thrive, boosting local economies, creating jobs and supporting personal wellbeing.”

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: “The value of our heritage sites and the people who run them has been amply demonstrated, as they have provided an anchor for so many of us through the dark days of the last year.

"Vital grants from the Culture Recovery Fund have helped them survive and will now help them recover, as the places we all cherish start to reopen in the months ahead.”

The funding awarded is from a £400million pot which was held back last year to ensure the Culture Recovery Fund could continue to help organisations in need as the public health picture changed. The funding has been awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England as well as the British Film Institute and Arts Council England