A CASH-strapped charity is celebrating after securing a massive Lottery grant that gives them financial security for five years.

Dorset Blind Association has been awarded £411,751 in Big Lottery funding for its community support service, which provides practical and emotional support for visually impaired people across the county.

This was one of the biggest grants give out in the south west region and has been described as a "lifeline" by charity staff.

Just last year, the Parkstone-based charity had to make half its community support team redundant due to lack of funding. The Lottery grant will find one fifth of the charity's work over the next five years and the remaining £300,000 will enable the charity to fundraise effectively and develop sustainable income streams.

Jonathan Holyhead, the CEO of Dorset Blind Association, said: " I am thrilled that we have received this funding and, on behalf of the whole Dorset Blind Association and all the people we help, want to say a huge thank you to Big Lottery for this generous support for our work.

"The process to secure this grant was long and arduous. The competition for this funding is intense and, quite rightly, Big Lottery only awards grants of this size to organisations which demonstrate an ability to help a significant number of people and in ways which really matter and make a difference.

"They also only award grants of this size after the most detailed scrutiny of the charity concerned, so I am extremely proud that we have passed that scrutiny and proved to Big Lottery that the work we do is worthy of this level of investment.

"The grant award is a ringing endorsement that the work of the Dorset Blind Association is wanted, needed, effective and appreciated and I hope will also act as a catalyst to encourage others to support us too.."

Lyn Cole, Big Lottery Fund, England Director said: "It’s great to see how so many projects receiving National Lottery funding today are being run by local people for local communities whether bringing generations together or helping others during difficult times."