Tyne & Wear

Sunderland church restoration calls in Sam the rothound

Sam the dog
Image caption Sam the golden Labrador, once abandoned for being "too boisterous", has been trained to detect active dry rot fungus

A rescue dog, left without a home for being "too boisterous", is helping sniff out dry rot in a Sunderland church as part of a £3.6m restoration.

Sam the golden Labrador is trained to sniff out dry rot hidden in the timbers and structure of old buildings.

The so called rothound is helping with survey work at the 300-year-old Holy Trinity Church that is being transformed into a community venue.

A Churches Conservation Trust spokesman said his job is "incredibly important".

The well-travelled Labrador is thought to be one of only a few sniffer dogs working commercially in the UK.

Image copyright Sunderland Council
Image caption Sam has previously used his nose to scour the basement of 17th Century Wimpole Hall

Brought from their home in Kendal, Cumbria, to help with the conservation work, handler Peter Monaghan said his lively character is exactly what is needed for the job.

Sam can detect any odour of dry rot that is hidden from the human eye and once found he drops to the floor with his nose in the direction of the scent.

His previous assignments have included 17th Century Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire.

Built in 1791, Holy Trinity Church in Hendon was once at the heart of the community.

Over the years people moved out of the area and in 1988 the Grade I listed church was decommissioned.

It has been cared for by The Churches Conservation Trust which now wants to turn it into The Canny Space.

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