doc

The future of Helston Museum could be looking bright, if an enthusiastic group of volunteers are given permission to take over the running of it.

The South Kerrier Heritage Trust (SKHT) hopes to put in a bid to Cornwall Council, in the belief that they can make the museum thrive.

The charitable trust was formed in response to an advert calling for interested parties to take on the running, and was the only organisation that showed any interest.

Members are now in the process of putting together a formal application for control, with the hope that a decision will be made by this April.

David Turnbull, secretary of the trust, said: “There are a huge number of things we could do. One is, it’s got to increase its attraction to visitors through the normal PR things – more signage, website etc – to get people in to the museum.

“It’s got to be open longer for more hours and it needs to have constant refreshing, so there’s always something new to see.”

In the past the new owners of the Passmore Edwards Institute in Penrose Rose has spoken of their interest in creating a “cultural quarter” with the museum and the heritage trust is also keen for this to happen.

Mr Turnbull mentioned the possibility of creating a physical link between the neighbouring sites in the future, perhaps through a bridge and some steps, so people were encouraged to visit both.

Judith Haycock, trust chairman, said: “It’s a really exciting opportunity and over the past few years people have realised Cornwall Council isn’t the best person to be managing the museum. There are so many opportunities there that it would be marvellous to explore these.

“It’s exciting for the town because it’s such a focal point.”

She added that the group had “so many big ideas,” which also included making public huge amounts of old photographs that are currently shut away and in need of sorted.

Similarly, for anyone interested in mining history there was a “wealth of history.”

As previously reported, budget cuts are forcing the council to almost halve the museum’s funding from £80,000 a year to £45,000.

While trust members formulate their application, they are looking for support from town and parish councils in the Helston and Lizard area so that bids can be made for match funding.

Helston Town Council has agreed to add £1,000 into its budget each year to go towards the museum, with many parish councils also offering support.

Mr Turnbull said: “The museum is Helston and the Lizard – not just Helston. It’s nice to see a little bit of support there. Over the next few months we have to try and find a bit more funding, before we as a group would be prepared to sign a contract.

“There’s a positive that could come from this, but we have got to find a way of managing the funding gap – and hopefully find more funding to open for more hours.”

Mr Turnbull said a key factor in its success would be volunteers coming forward to give just an hour or two of their time each week, to man the museum and shop, show visitors around, carry out archiving and other tasks where support is vital.

A volunteers’ event will be held at the museum on Saturday, January 19 between 1pm until 3pm. This will include a tour and information about future plans.