Royal seal of approval for St Barbe
28 September 2017
HRH The Earl of Wessex KG GCVO officially opened the fully renovated St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery on 28th September 2017.
The Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Nigel Atkinson, the High Sheriff of Hampshire, the Right Honourable Mary Montagu-Scott, the Chairman of New Forest District Council, Councillor Christine Ward, the Chairman of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Graham Burgess, the Mayor of Lymington, Councillor Barry Dunning, and Lord Montagu, the President of Lymington Museum Trust, also attended the official ceremony to re-open St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery.
St Barbe Director Mark Tomlinson led the entourage on a tour of the newly refurbished museum and gallery and introduced the Earl to volunteers, trustees and patrons, including the Chairman of Friends of St Barbe John Ward, his wife Sheila, who co-ordinates the 100 plus team of volunteers, and Margaret Davies, Alf Sedman and Helen Withers, long-standing volunteers who carry out several vital roles for St Barbe.
Brian May, CEO of Berthon, a major Lymington boat building company, was presented to the Earl and he introduced four apprentices who have all worked on the build and installation of the model pilot boat, a main feature in the museum. They were Dean Murphy and Billy Hamilton, both second year spraying apprentices, Daniel Hamilton, a second year Shipwright apprentice, and Steven Beresford, a first year Marine Electrical apprentice.
The £2.3 million project to transform the museum, gallery and services, and fund community activity, was made possible after St Barbe won a Heritage Lottery Fund grant. £525,000 of that was raised with the support of many trusts, organisations, business and individuals.
The fundraising also received celebrity backing from historian and TV presenter Dan Snow, who has visited St Barbe many times with his family. He spearheaded a campaign which raised £30,000 and enabled a rare collection of third century Roman coins dubbed The Boldre Hoard to be returned to the museum and put on display.
After being closed for 10 months from September 2016. St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery re-opened its doors to the public on Saturday 29 July. On the first day alone, 1000 visitors poured into St Barbe to explore the new interactive museum displays and enjoy the inaugural exhibition, Birds of the New Forest, by sculptor Geoffrey Dashwood, with interpretation by TV presenter and wildlife expert Chris Packham.
Since then, 15,000 visitors have enjoyed the new facilities.
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