HAY Castle could open to the public for the first time in  900 years, reinforced with well over £500k from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and an army of volunteers .

Hay Castle Trust  confirmed today (Monday) that has received initial HLF support for restoration and regeneration work.

The Trust wants to open the castle to the public for the first time in its 900-year history and development funding of £528,600 has been awarded to help progress that plan toward a full grant.

First up is the “rescue” of  Medieval and Jacobean buildings and the restoration of the ancient gate - believed to be the oldest of its kind in the UK – for re-opening.

That gate would then lead into a centre for the arts, history, education and training with the castle establishing local and national partnerships to develop  heritage skills training.

The plans also include educational programmes and exhibition.

Already, the Trust has put out a call for volunteers “welcomed at every stage of the project”, with training offered to enable them to care for the castle and get involved with its planned activities.

Hay Castle tells the story of almost a millennia of architecture; with a Scheduled Ancient Monument, Grade 1 and Grade 2 listed buildings and registered gardens.  It has even hosted a “Royal” coronation, that of “King of Hay” Richard Booth who bought the site in 1999.

The Trust purchased the site in 2011.

Nancy Lavin Albert, the Managing Director of Hay Castle, said: “We’re ecstatic to have received this support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.  We realise how many important projects there are that are equally deserving, and we’re thrilled to know that others care about this project as much as we do.  The heart of Hay is here at the castle, and our job is to give it life for another thousand years.”

A first round pass means the project meets HLF criteria for funding and HLF believes the project has potential to deliver high-quality benefits and value for Lottery money.

The Trust application was in competition with other supportable projects, so a first-round pass is an endorsement of outline proposals.

Having been awarded a first-round pass, the project now has up to two years to submit fully developed proposals to compete for a firm award.

Hay Castle Trust, a registered charity, was formed in 2011 by a group of local residents to purchase the castle and ensure its preservation and benefit to the public.