AWARD-WINNING actress Judi Dench has written to Humza Yousaf to highlight Scottish children "are desperate" for the Scottish Government to intervene and secure the future of a Highlands mobile cinema.

Children from Sgoil Bhàgh a' Chaisteil  (Castlebay School) in Barra got in touch with the Oscar-winner after they saw her share her love for Scotland on TV.

Dench responded by sending a copy of the letter she wrote to Yousaf to the school.

Screen Machine, an 80-seat mobile cinema, tours Scotland’s Highland and Island communities, giving people who live far from a static cinema the opportunity to see the latest film releases.

READ MORE: Mobile cinema which travels Scottish islands at risk of closure

While Regional Screen Scotland (RSS), which operates the service,  has leased a replacement until April this year, there is no funding in place beyond then.

Posting on Facebook, RSS said a new mobile cinema would cost at least £1.4 million and take up to 18 months to build.

It is understood Dench shared the hopes of the children and wrote that she hoped the Scottish Government could assist in some way.

The school wrote on social media: “We were delighted to receive this letter in the Primary department yesterday and we hope that our persuasive letter writing across our P5-7 classes continues to make a positive impact.

“Thank you Dame Judi – we are so appreciative of your time and support."

The National:

The letter from the James Bond actress read: “Dear First Minister, I have received many letters from the pupils at Castle Bay School on the isle of Barra begging for help with funding for a new Cinema Bus.

"Apparently the current one is about to run out of steam in 2024 and they are desperate for the Scottish Government to pay for 50% of the £1.4million needed for a new bus.

“The Cinema Bus is such a lifeline in such a rural community and much enjoyed by both children and adults, although so far only the children have written to me for help. The pupils are aged between 8 and 10 years old and are desperate for the Scottish Government to help them. They have put a lot of effort into their letters and are most sincere in their pleas.

“I do hope you can help.”

It is understood that the First Minister has received the letter and will reply in due course.

A Scottish government spokesperson said: “The Scottish government understands the unique cultural contribution that the Screen Machine makes to communities who otherwise would struggle to visit the cinema.

“We continue to liaise with relevant parties to explore any avenues for support.”