The following is an edited version of the Annual Report delivered at our first AGM on the 6th December by our chairperson Dr. Marie Dickie OBE.
2013 was a very good year.
The year included FONC providing a slick and professional presence at a number of events – Spring Boroughs Community Festival, Heritage Open Days; and Delapre History Fair to name but a few.
In addition, members have led walks; given talks; and we have done our own small public-digs to publicise the Castle site. We have made our first heritage funding bid. We have also helped others get involved in celebrating our medieval heritage; as can be seen in the various plans for the 2014 celebrations in the town.
We have seen our group move from being small voices, trying hard to save what little of our local heritage we could (in the face of proposed development) to being a recognised and respected partner with the big players; symbolised by the signing of the ‘Memorandum of Understanding for the Northampton Heritage Gateway Partnership’ this Autumn. Howard’s slogan – Aiming for Northampton’s past to play a part in our future – is really now becoming the Town’s accepted wisdom. By this time next year I am confident we will be able to point to recognition of the Castle in the railway station and Innovation Centre. With real progress this side of the road – through physical signs – that the Gateway is real.
We have had to add some formality to our processes; such as this first AGM. But we hope that it is still fun to be here.
None of this could have been achieved if it had not been for enthusiastic, willing and often unsung volunteers. Each new volunteer has wonderfully brought strengths to us. We have also seen some departures to pastures new. Sadly, I learnt this week that one of our members Paul Geeson had died. We all know that he struggled with ill health; but was nonetheless one of those willing and positive people that make this group so strong.
Paul would want us to go on to do even better in 2014 – so of course we are going to do just that. We have a lot to do:-
We are still a campaigning organisation – at least until Castle Hill looks like the park we planned.
We still have to educate people about this important place. Though by next year I hope we will be working as volunteers with CCT project for St. Peter’s on that.
We need to continue researching and publicising the stories surrounding the many historical figures associated with the Castle people. We also have a piece of work to do about the Postern Gate – as the opportunity to secure its future is beginning to come through.
Importantly, we remain a group of volunteers aiming to enjoy what we do and one another’s company.