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Museum marks 35 years of volunteers

HELP FROM OUR FRIENDS: Volunteers from South Ribble Museum

HELP FROM OUR FRIENDS: Volunteers from South Ribble Museum

An army of volunteers who give up their time to help run a museum have been honoured at a event to mark its 35th year.

The anniversary of the South Ribble Museum and Exhibition Centre was celebrated at the volunteers’ annual Christmas lunch.

More than 100,000 unpaid hours have been covered by the 54 volunteers, who have given their time to help keep the exhibition centre running since it opened in 1977.

The centre occupies the small building tucked away in the corner of Leyland’s ancient churchyard, in Church Road.

The 16th century building was home to the Leyland Free Grammar School for around 300 years before closing in 1874 and being acquired by the church for £200.

The building lay intact but unused by the early 1970s, after its use for various purposes ended during the 60s.

The idea for an art gallery had been suggested by the council during the 70s and South Ribble Council eventually purchased the school from the church, for just £1.

It was fully restored under the Jobs Creation Scheme for £14,000.

The museum first opened its doors on December 7 1977 and has only had two curators in its lifetime. May Knowles retired in 1981 and current curator, Dr David Hunt, took over in 1982.

Over the 35 years, the equivalent of more than £750,000 in wages has been ‘donated’ to the running of the museum through the volunteers’ unpaid work.

The volunteers have ranged in age from 18 years old to 104 years old.

Museum curator Dr David Hunt said: “Public support was, and still is, central to the success of the museum now 35 years on since the centre opened its doors.

“I commend all of our volunteers over the years who have been prepared to give their time to the community.”

The current volunteers were joined by Coun Dorothy Gardner, the Mayor of South Ribble, as they enjoyed a thank-you lunch at Leyland Golf Club and celebrated the museum’s anniversary.

The museum’s latest display, ‘Leyland Photographic Exhibition’, celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of Leyland Photographic Society and is on show through to January.

To volunteer at the museum, drop in on a Saturday morning.

 

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