It's just over 18 months since the Montgomery Canal Restoration Appeal was presented with a cheque for £2,000 thanks to the Gannett Foundation Awards 2020.

The awards, which has run by the parent company of Newsquest, which publishes the Oswestry Advertizer, received requests from more than 200 news titles and magazines from across the UK that year, and the canal appeal was one of just 40 community organisations to benefit from more than £140,000.

The appeal aims to bring the Montgomery Canal back to life, and in particular, restore Schoolhouse Bridge which is the last blockage in Shropshire.

But unfortunately, a mix of Covid-19 and technical formalities means that work on the site between Crickheath and Pant is yet to begin.

Nevertheless, Michael Limbrey, chairman of the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust, which led the appeal, said the funding is still very important.

He explained: "We haven't been able to make headway with it partly because of Covid and partly because of getting the formalities and agreeing the details with highways and Shropshire Council.

"However, we are hugely appreciative of this funding. We have received a number of small but significant grants with are important contributions to the project."

Mr Limbrey said there are only "a handful" of hurdles to clear before work can begin.

"But the Gannett funding is very much appreciate.

"In total we've raised £500,000 – every time I say that figure out loud I am still surprised by how much we have raised."

The £2,000 Gannett award was specifically for the creation of steps to give access to the towpath from Long Lane which the bridge sits on.

At the time of the presentation, Mr Limbrey said: "Access is terribly important – it’s not a site where we can manage it on both sides, it’s not a site where there’s access for wheelchairs or pushchairs, but there will be some down to the towpath.

“It also gives people an uninterrupted route without having to cross the road and if we can get the canal past two bigger jobs further down, we can take the pedestrians off the road.

“I think it’s terrific that Gannett have come up with this grant for us and I will be using it to promote what we do."

Looking ahead to the rest of the project, the team is already thinking about the work that will be needed in Llanymynech and beyond as the canal crosses into Wales.

If you would like to support the restoration appeal contact Michael Limbrey by emailing or calling 01691 654081.