A former plasterer turned minister has rolled up his sleeves to help renovate his own church.
Rev Scott Burton dusted down his overalls and tools and set to work on the iconic St Matthews building in Perth.
The job is part of an ambitious £900,000 plan to ensure the kirk — one of the city’s most photographed landmarks — is fit for 21st century worship.
It is hoped the work will help boost the congregation and make the place more inviting for future generations.
Mr Burton said: “It is 20 years since I went from plastering to pastoring, but I’ve still got it.
“Back in the day I’d have been paid good money for this, it is a labour of love.”
Mr Burton, Moderator of Perth Presbytery, said he embarked on a Youth Training Scheme (YTS) in the building trade when he left school in 1986.
“For two years I worked as a plasterer in Glasgow before going on to become a church youth worker then training as a minister,” he added.
“This part of the job is one my contributions to some DIY aspects of the project.
“It stands alongside the voluntary work that’s been done by others in the congregation such as removing the pews, temporarily removing war memorials and carrying out joinery and electrical work.”
The project is nearing completion and Former Moderator of the General Assembly Very Rev Dr Angus Morrison will carry out a re-dedication ceremony at the church on November 27.
With help from various trusts, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Environment Scotland and the fundraising efforts of the congregation, the £900,000 project got underway in May.
Some £250,000 of that figure is being spent on the exterior to restore the stonework, guttering and stained glass work and provide a disabled access ramp at the front.
The building with its 212ft high steeple is a focal point of almost every photograph of Tay Street and Mr Burton said the current work is part of an ongoing process since it was built in 1871.
The pews have all been removed and mostly sold to boost funds but during the work they discovered that many changes had been made over the years.
The rare access to the high roof revealed a painter named C.Christie had left his mark while carrying out work in 1896.
During the work subsidence was discovered which required £35,000 of a contingency fund to be used to ensure that the completed building will be sound for hundreds more years.
Landmark Perth building
The 173-year-old St Matthews Church, as we know it today, was derived from four local churches in 1965.
The former Wilson Church, built in 1740, West Church (1843), Middle Church (1843) and Bridgend Church (1894) were united under one roof, which became St Matthews.
The former West Church was used as the building.
The Tay Street landmark was designed by John Honeyman and built between 1869 and 1871.
It is Victorian Gothic in style and a Session room was added in 1872. A Mission Hall was built eight years later and a further large hall was added in 1896, when the re-decorated church was opened.
In 1968 a new vestry, two committee rooms, a kitchen and toilets were built.
The interior features an organ which dates back to the 19th century, which was rebuilt in 1974.
Alcohol campaign raised eyebrows
The campaign to restore St Matthew’s has been something of a rollercoaster ride for minister Scott Burton.
Last year, people were invited to buy a piece of local history when the church began selling off its pews.
The seating was sold at £100 a piece, with hairdresser Campbell Ewen among the first to buy.
But Mr Burton was forced to defend another fund-raising effort when the church teamed up with Inveralmond Brewery to market St Matthew’s Ale.
The move was criticised by some members of the congregation and campaign group Alcohol Focus Scotland.
Mr Burton responded: “We are not promoting alcohol consumption per se; we are promoting responsible drinking.
“The Church has never been against alcohol, but we are against alcohol abuse.”