COMMUNITY projects based throughout Dorset are celebrating after being awarded a share of Lottery grants worth almost £20,000.

The Awards for All scheme offers grants of between £300 and £10,000 to social and environmental projects and the cash will be used for everything from boats to solar panels.

The Maritime Volunteer Service (MVS), based in Weymouth and Portland, received £8,154, which the charity plans to use to buy rescue boat equipment.

Rob Chick, head of the unit, said: “This will make a big difference for our members.

“Our role, since we started up about three years ago, has been to give the harbourmaster whatever assistance is needed.

“Before we would just go out in their boats on patrol during busy periods but now we will have our own to do that and also to train even more members.”

Portesham village hall was awarded £10,000 to install solar panels on the roof of the building.

Some of the funding will also be put towards renewable energy events and organisers hope the changes will make the village hall more energy efficient.

Ian Bullock, chairman of the Portesham village hall committee, said: “It’s a great thrill for us to be supported with this money.

“One of the biggest problems we have is heating, and with the price of oil going up there has been a dramatic increase in our overall running costs.

“A lot of clubs in our community hire the hall, and the solar panels will help to keep the charges to an absolute minimum.”

Events are planned at the hall later in the year to demonstrate the benefits of the panels, and how they work. Mr Bullock added: “This is only the start of the project and we are really keen to get the community involved.”

A village hall in Melpash, near Bridport, was awarded £1,000 to fix a leaky roof.

The hall’s management committee hopes the improvement will encourage more disabled visitors to use the building, because the leak means the disabled toilet cannot be used.

Mark Cotton, head of the Big Lottery Fund’s south west region, said: “There are 42 groups across the region that are benefitting from the Awards for All programme.”