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Benefactor steps in after lottery snub

Created on 14/10/2010 @ 13:13


A slice of local history has been saved after a backer stepped in following a National Lottery snub.
Benefactor paintings from the 18th century were recently discovered in Guilsfield Church (right) and were destined for the skip after the Heritage Lottery Fund turned down a bid to save them. But local businessman Murray Chapman has underwritten their £16,000 restoration in memory of an aunt that was a member of the congregation.
“My aunt, Olwen Noreen Edwards, had her christening, wedding and funeral service at the church and was also a regular in the congregation,” said Mr. Chapman, who lives in Trewern. “She left a bequest of £10,000 to restoring and improving the church’s porch and when it became apparent that the boards’ restoration may not proceed because the Lottery Fund advised that it did not meet its criteria, the family decided to fund their restoration too. We thought it would be the most fitting way to perpetuate her memory.”
The six benefactor paintings recognise donations made to the parish for a variety of reasons including ‘educating the poor’. They will now be handed over for restoration thanks to Mr. Chapman’s generosity.
The National Lottery launched in 1994 promising ‘millionaires and museums’. The vicar’s son, Stephen Bird, took on the responsibility for funding and said the plan was to exhibit the boards in a ‘village heritage museum’. He took advice from Powysland Museum curator Eva Bredsdorff as well as the Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust and Shrewsbury Museum before proceeding.
“We applied for £15,000 based on a village heritage museum that would have cost around £23,000 in total, including £16,000 for the restoration of the boards,” he said. “It was very disappointing not to receive any support because it would have been good for Guilsfield as a whole. But we won’t give up and if anyone is interested in helping to fund the museum, then please get in touch.”
The decision is even more baffling after mywelshpool discovered that at the time Guilsfield was being rejected, the Chinese community in Cardiff won a £6,100 grant to refurbish two memorial stones remembering their war dead.
We also followed the application’s extensive paper trail which highlighted that a lack of thorough information on how the museum would be developed and staffed was the main stumbling block.
Guilsfield is one of Wales’s most significant historical locations, lying at the foot of Gaer Fawr which has been revealed as one of Europe’s largest medieval hill forts. Extensive digs and research have unearthed a treasure trove of historical artifacts from the bronze-age. The items recovered have been distributed across museums in Wales, England and further afield and featured globally through the National Geographic Magazine and the BBC.
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