Chairpersons address to FONC (AGM 2014)

CELEBRATING SUCCESS

We have had a good deal to celebrate this year not least the spectacular success of Becket anniversary project.   We have continued to provide a strong presence at history events, grown our school work and added a new dimension to our 3d animation.  Members have turned to and made a success of our   second time in the people’s museum gallery, adding workshops for children to the offer.  Indeed, the Echoes of the Castle Exhibition in Hazelrigg now features ideas used there – the Lego and the dressing up kits, for example.  We can take some credit too for the fact that this Exhibition is taking place – for it was based on our lobbying and the popularity of our tours.  I can announce tonight that over a 2 month period the Exhibition as had over 900 visitors! This surely proves our point about the popularity of our lost Castle.

DELAYS and DISAPOINTMENTS

Last year 2013 I said that but for the sad death of Paul Geeson, I would have presented a wholly celebratory report.  This year however I have to say I feel that though we do have much to celebrate, there are also some concerns. When I gave my 2013 report I anticipated that we would be in a position to see real signs of progress in the Heritage Gateway – the railway station building open, for example.  Even a few weeks ago – looking at the purple hoardings going up around a cleared Castle house site, I would have hoped to be able to say to you that our hopes for a Heritage Park showcasing the castle remains and archaeology as well as some of the fine listed buildings in this locality – was  a mere breath  from realisation.  But sadly I have to report some disturbing developments suggesting that the commitment to this is being undermined.  Later this evening  I will be asking you to help strengthen the resistance to that trend  – naming Brian Binley MP as our second delegate to the Gateway Board- so that I am not left alone to resist.

I suspect our website, Facebook page and twitter account will need to be even slicker and smarter next year as we confront these naysayers.

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS and £s

In a short time Friends of Northampton Castle has really matured as a voluntary organisation. Our membership continues to be refreshed with new talent but sadly we also see valuable people leave us.   The loss of Mary and Alan Horsley (to retirement in Leicester) will be felt particularly due to their sterling work in bringing Holy Sepulchre into the mix of events for the Becket anniversary.  We have tried to keep meetings short and entertaining and to ensure that all our members are able to contribute from their special backgrounds and interests.  We have not worried too much about adding extra numbers, paper members if you will.  But even very active organisations such as this one, need to keep thinking about how to attract new people and to make sure that the stalwarts don’t get worn out.  This will continue to be an issue we need to pay attention to next year.

In funding terms we have been remarkably fortunate in the loyal support of the Castle Ward local Councillor Winston Strachan, in the enthusiasm of local business leaders (such as Paul MacManus) and the work of Sanaa Lateef in seeking funding, mostly via NCF. Funding is not the purpose of the organisation but without it our work in schools, at heritage fairs and other events would be less professional and effective.  We have been fortunate indeed to develop a digital product, with the help of NVision, which is a great vehicle for getting our message about the Castle across.

NEXT YEAR

I should end this report with best wishes for the forthcoming year both to you as individuals but also to us as a group.  We will carry on “Aiming for Northampton’s past to play a part in our future” in 2015.  2015 sees another major national anniversary – the 800th since Magna Carta was first sealed.  Most of you know that the first draft of the demands was put together at Brackley, that the first siege (the opening shots in the war) occurred at Northampton Castle.  I am thinking however that we may want to highlight the part played by Northampton citizens in storming the King’s garrison.   That   might be called a useful precedent!  Happy and peaceful New Year to you all.

Dr Marie Dickie OBE.

Chairpersons address to FONC (AGM 2014)

 

CELEBRATING SUCCESS

We have had a good deal to celebrate this year not least the spectacular success of Becket anniversary project.   We have continued to provide a strong presence at history events, grown our school work and added a new dimension to our 3d animation.  Members have turned to and made a success of our   second time in the people’s museum gallery, adding workshops for children to the offer.  Indeed, the Echoes of the Castle Exhibition in Hazelrigg now features ideas used there – the Lego and the dressing up kits, for example.  We can take some credit too for the fact that this Exhibition is taking place – for it was based on our lobbying and the popularity of our tours.  I can announce tonight that over a 2 month period the Exhibition as had over 900 visitors! This surely proves our point about the popularity of our lost Castle.

DELAYS and DISAPOINTMENTS

Last year 2013 I said that but for the sad death of Paul Geeson, I would have presented a wholly celebratory report.  This year however I have to say I feel that though we do have much to celebrate, there are also some concerns. When I gave my 2013 report I anticipated that we would be in a position to see real signs of progress in the Heritage Gateway – the railway station building open, for example.  Even a few weeks ago – looking at the purple hoardings going up around a cleared Castle house site, I would have hoped to be able to say to you that our hopes for a Heritage Park showcasing the castle remains and archaeology as well as some of the fine listed buildings in this locality – was  a mere breath  from realisation.  But sadly I have to report some disturbing developments suggesting that the commitment to this is being undermined.  Later this evening  I will be asking you to help strengthen the resistance to that trend  – naming Brian Binley MP as our second delegate to the Gateway Board- so that I am not left alone to resist.

I suspect our website, Facebook page and twitter account will need to be even slicker and smarter next year as we confront these naysayers.

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS and £s

In a short time Friends of Northampton Castle has really matured as a voluntary organisation. Our membership continues to be refreshed with new talent but sadly we also see valuable people leave us.   The loss of Mary and Alan Horsley (to retirement in Leicester) will be felt particularly due to their sterling work in bringing Holy Sepulchre into the mix of events for the Becket anniversary.  We have tried to keep meetings short and entertaining and to ensure that all our members are able to contribute from their special backgrounds and interests.  We have not worried too much about adding extra numbers, paper members if you will.  But even very active organisations such as this one, need to keep thinking about how to attract new people and to make sure that the stalwarts don’t get worn out.  This will continue to be an issue we need to pay attention to next year.

In funding terms we have been remarkably fortunate in the loyal support of the Castle Ward local Councillor Winston Strachan, in the enthusiasm of local business leaders (such as Paul MacManus) and the work of Sanaa Lateef in seeking funding, mostly via NCF. Funding is not the purpose of the organisation but without it our work in schools, at heritage fairs and other events would be less professional and effective.  We have been fortunate indeed to develop a digital product, with the help of NVision, which is a great vehicle for getting our message about the Castle across.

NEXT YEAR

I should end this report with best wishes for the forthcoming year both to you as individuals but also to us as a group.  We will carry on “Aiming for Northampton’s past to play a part in our future” in 2015.  2015 sees another major national anniversary – the 800th since Magna Carta was first sealed.  Most of you know that the first draft of the demands was put together at Brackley, that the first siege (the opening shots in the war) occurred at Northampton Castle.  I am thinking however that we may want to highlight the part played by Northampton citizens in storming the King’s garrison.   That   might be called a useful precedent!  Happy and peaceful New Year to you all.

Dr Marie Dickie OBE.

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