Churches in the Three Towns and beyond were delighted to be able to reopen their doors in time to celebrate Holy Week and Easter.

Places of worship across Scotland were allowed to reopen by the Scottish Government on March 26 with gatherings of up to 50, where there is space for physical distancing.

Father Duncan McVicar, who is the parish priest for Saint Peter in Chains in Ardrossan and St Bride’s in West Kilbride, said the news was a welcome boost for the church community.

He told the Herald: “Churches had been closed from December so the news that we could get back for Holy Week and Easter was brilliant. It was like a ray of sunshine.

“We were still only allowed 50 inside so people had to book by phone or website.

“People are so happy to be back and the atmosphere in the church is very joyful and uplifting and they are glad to see each other again even if it is socially distanced.”

Over the past 12 months many churches have had to adapt in order to reach their communities with many now livestreaming mass with Saint Peter’s no different.

While livestreaming has undoubtedly brought the church community many benefits during the pandemic, Father McVicar admits it is no substitute for the real thing.

He said: “Livestreaming has been brilliant and has allowed us to communicate and brought the church into the 21st century.

“Where it does not work is that it is not real people in the one building and community is all about people being together physically not virtually.

“We would have been lost without it but we must realise that coming together is what it is all about. Doing mass in an empty church is very difficult. It was an odd experience. Digital is not a replacement as a big part of the church is coming together.

“What livestreaming has helped with is funerals as with the limited numbers allowed to attend it has meant that people have been able to watch and pay their respects from other countries.”

“Once we are through the pandemic I imagine we will continue with livestreaming for those that cannot make it.”