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10 April 2019

Lottery cash for project to put fenland museum at heart of community

By Julie Williams

Lottery cash for project to put fenland museum at heart of community

Wisbech and Fenland Museum announced this week that it has been awarded £92,500 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for its two-year Sharing Cultures project to reach out and engage with all the people of Fenland.

Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project will set up a Museum on the Move, recruit, train and motivate a band of 20 volunteers and enable the museum to share Wisbech's heritage with all the different communities who live locally.

The award, announced this week, is the latest of three lottery grants for projects aimed at updating, conserving and increasing the public's involvement with the museum's remarkable collection, which is of local, national and international importance.

Curator Robert Bell said: “We're very excited that this money is being pumped into our Sharing Cultures project. We've finally been given the resources to get out into the community and bring people in to learn more about the rich and outward-looking history of Fenland and to contribute their stories. We are asking people to get in touch if they’d like to be involved.”

Museum director in charge of Sharing Cultures, Martin Lawrence, said: “Wisbech is a unique place which, as the birthplace of Thomas Clarkson, played a key role in the fight against slavery. Our aim is to be a fascinating museum at the heart of a strong community. The first lottery grant funded a business plan that's making progress: visitor numbers shot up by almost 2,000 last year and we've now got 40 trained volunteers doing a brilliant job, but we still have a way to go. This money is a fantastic boost to our efforts.”

All three grants are ring-fenced to be spent on time-limited projects only, so none of the money can be used to staff, heat, light and insure the museum, which is one of the earliest purpose built museums in the country to survive complete with all its original features.

Fundraising efforts continue and the museum's trustees have vowed to keep it open, supported by Wisbech Town Council, which quadrupled its annual contribution to £20,000, and a Re-Founders Scheme that has brought pledges from local individuals and charities which go part-way towards plugging the funding gap for the next five years. 

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