National Lottery comes to rescue of Covid-19 and burglary-hit Rural Life Centre

By Daniel Gee   |   Head of Content   |
Tuesday 7th July 2020 6:00 am
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It’s been a traumatic spring for the Rural Life Centre – with thieves adding to the museum’s lockdown woes ()

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THE RURAL Life Living Museum has received £25,000 from The National Lottery Heritage to help meet its ongoing costs during lockdown.

As an independent museum, the Tilford-based outdoor facility does not receive any core funding, and is instead dependent on the income it receives from visitors to meet its day-to-day running costs.

Lockdown has therefore hit hard, resulting in a complete loss of income during what is normally the start of its busy season – income that also helps sustain the museum through the barren winter period.

The centre, which includes many artefacts demonstrating the area’s rural heritage, has doubly suffered during the pandemic, after it was targeted by thieves just weeks into the UK’s lockdown in March.

A large quantity of priceless items were stolen in the raid, which police confirmed this week are yet to be recovered.

Museum director Emma Midgley told the Herald the centre was making “good progress” getting the site ready for reopening, but hasn’t got an official opening date yet.

“But we are hoping it will be in the next couple of weeks,” she added.

On the lottery award, she continued: “Thanks to the National Lottery and its players, we are able to open the museum as soon as possible and continue to be a place for people to come and enjoy our rural collection and outdoor spaces.

“The funding has enabled us to meet our operational costs while receiving no income, thus ensuring our future for the next few months at least – and giving us a fighting chance to ensure our survival in these uncertain times.

“We’re grateful The National Lottery Heritage Fund is supporting us at this crucial time. It’s a lifeline to us and others who are passionate about sustaining heritage for the benefit of all.”

Since the lockdown began, the trustees of the Rural Life Living Museum have also been meeting virtually on a regular basis to keep an eye on the situation, respond to any queries while staff were on furlough and ensure the museum was secure while it was closed during lockdown.

The funding, made possible by National Lottery players, was awarded through The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s £50 million Heritage Emergency Fund, supporting those most in need across the heritage sector.

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