More than £30,000 pledged by supporters towards five years of running costs for Wisbech and Fenland Museum
PUBLISHED: 14:42 05 December 2018 | UPDATED: 14:42 05 December 2018
A landmark museum in Wisbech at risk of closure has had £34,000 pledged towards its running costs for the next five years from a group of supporters.
Wisbech and Fenland Museum has seen 11 individuals, one business and six local charities all dig deep to give at least £1,000 every year until 2026.
It comes as the loss of Fenland District Council’s annual £60,000 grant towards everyday running costs has left the museum in a potentially unsustainable financial situation.
More ‘ReFounders’ are being sought before the scheme closes to new donors at the end of December.
The generosity of the group was celebrated at a thank you party at the museum on November 22.
More than 80 friends of the museum, trustees and volunteers joined the ReFounders to relish a witty speech from acclaimed Dickens scholar Professor Michael Slater MBE, and to raise a glass to the efforts underway to save the UK’s second oldest surviving provincial museum.
Chairman of the museum board, Richard Barnwell, thanked Mayor Cllr Peter Human for the generosity of Wisbech Town Council.
They have increased their annual grant from £5,000 to £20,000 after Fenland District Council slashed its contribution - which will cease altogether in 2020.
Vice-chairman of the museum board, David Ball, said: “We thank the organisations and individuals who have been so generous but even with this help and the pledges we have so far, we won’t cover our day to day expenses from 2021, when the Fenland District Council monies run out.
“We do bid for and receive grants but all are restricted to specific projects. We cannot use that money to pay wages, keep the lights on and the doors open.”
He announced that a patrons’ scheme involving a much lower level of contribution than the ReFounders will be launched in April 2019.
The museum houses an eclectic collection of intriguing items including the original manuscript of Dickens’ Great Expectations bequeathed to the trustees in 1869 by the Rev Chauncy Hare Townshend.
For more information on the museum, which is open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 4pm, call 01945 583817 or email firstname.lastname@example.org