Annual Report 2023

The financial year 22/23 was one of consolidation, transition, and preparation for the expansion of the Trust’s activities.

Having been in existence as an organisation for just two years; and in ownership of the collection and the hall in which it is housed for little more than a year; and that all having taken place during a pandemic, meant that the process of maintaining and developing the collection was directly and indirectly constrained in a number of ways.

One direct consequence was that opening up the collection to the public had to proceed in accordance with frequently changing advice on precautionary measures, which given the nature of the venue, limited public access. This in turn impeded the Trust’s scope for fund-raising activity.

Additionally, with the building, the Trust had inherited the pre-existing arrangement for utilities, some of which presented us with difficulties, not least because the companies involved made them somewhat opaque. So the process of financial consolidation was one of reducing the burden of expenditure by revisiting and renegotiating utility contracts, and at the same time, ensuring our ability to meet those frequently contestable commitments through fundraising.

The former proved to be a not insignificant task, involving extensive correspondence and numerous and often frustratingly unresponsive phone calls by the treasurer, firstly in an attempt to rectify overcharging, and secondly, compounded by that, to switch to other providers.

Happily, these objectives were eventually achieved, enabling us to get a reduced, and equally important, a clearer picture of our financial commitments, and hence the revenue that needed to be put in place to meet them. As can be seen from the accounts, these were met from donations, including those from visitors as more frequent openings became possible.

As the year progressed, and the difficulties outlined above were overcome, the Trustees discussed plans to put the charity on a more sustainable footing – both financially and in terms of making the collection more regularly accessible to the public. It was agreed that in 2023, we would instigate regular openings, at least once a week, throughout the summer (with a view to seeking accreditation as a museum, which requires at least twenty opening days); and that, in the course of the year, we would implement the provisions for a membership scheme, as outlined in our constitution.

During the year, one of our original Trustees left us. We would like to thank Alasdair Kearney for the invaluable role he played, seeking local support for efforts to save the collection, and setting up and publicising our initial crowdfunding appeal.

We are also pleased to note that Peter Fry, who had been helping us with openings as a volunteer, subsequently agreed to join us as a Trustee.

We thank all our volunteers and visitors for their continued support. Their enthusiasm is what makes our efforts to maintain and develop the collection so worthwhile.