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Full Steam ahead at Chard Museum

It looks like being full steam ahead for Chard Museum when at an Extraordinary General Meeting held this week, those members who attended agreed to go ahead with a proposal to purchase the museum from South Somerset District Council. The definitive result of the vote is yet to be ratified, as the wishes of those members unable to attend in person have yet to be counted. But, local councillor, and Museum Trustee, Linda Vijeh, said

‘It was great to see such a high turnout amongst our members. This is a fantastic opportunity for the museum, and I cannot see why it should not go ahead. Our Chairman, Vince Lean, has worked tirelessly over many months to bring this about, along with fellow trustee Howard Bailey. The museum is in healthy financial shape and will be able to pay the required amount to complete the Community Asset Transfer. Until now the museum has been leased from the District Council but, the new lease would have been a full repairing lease, we would have been responsible for maintenance and all other costs, so with a saving on rent the Trustees feel that the business model is sustainable. Further it will faciliate us to make grant bids to further the 50 Years and Beyond project, and we will be able to determine our own future. There are already exciting plans for a makeover, which is part of our long-term plan. During lockdown there have already been some interesting innovations as the museum works to ensure that it remains relevant to both townspeople, and visitors alike.

Organisations such as museums owe their existence to the dedicated time and effort of its volunteers and like many other organisations, the museum is always looking for fresh blood to keep it on its toes. It was super to see local student, Olivia Lawrence, receive a certificate in recognition of her work with the museum as part of her Duke of Edinburgh award.

Gardening is not my forte, quite the opposite in fact, but over the summer months I was delighted to work with a team of volunteers to spruce things up in the grounds in time for our re-opening, and we were grateful for plant donations from Combe Dingle Nursery, B&Q and Chard Garden Centre.

Since re-opening earlier in the year, the museum kick-started its autumn events this month with a celebration of the life of Roger Carter, by the Chard community and fellow historians. A former curator, author, local historian and

most importantly, friend to so many people, Roger had a vision for the future and wanted to excite young people about history and science, especially engineering, making sure that history was saved for future generations. In addition to the formal tribute, in which the current curator Angie Loader, spoke of the support Roger had provided to her and others, including long-standing volunteer Gerrie Bews.

A plaque honouring Roger’s contribution was unveiled by Chard Town Councillor Jenny Orchard, and in the company of members of Roger’s family, we all enjoyed entertainment provided by Mike Froom to accompany the food, pasties from yours truly, and cider, kindly donated by Perry’s and Burrow Hill.

Donations given at the event, will directly fund an annual science workshop for the museum’s new half-term activity programme for families and young people (starting in October), and also the archiving of Roger’s extensive collection that he donated to Chard Museum.

Later on this month the museum is participating in Heritage Open Days, with its theme of Chard Remembers. This will celebrate the stories and memories of local Chard residents through the theme of food, contrasting the differences between village and town life, why people moved to the town, and even some war time memories. There will also be a World War 2 Cooking Challenge to cook a World War 2 recipe.

Further information can be found about the museum and its wide range of activities

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