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Museums Northumberland secures funding to create accessible play area at Woodhorn Museum

22/11/2021

Museums Northumberland – the independent charity that provides Northumberland’s museums service – has successfully raised the funding it needs to create a new accessible play area at Woodhorn Museum in Ashington.

The charity’s successful public crowdfunder campaign, along with donations from Ashington Town Council and Ecclesiastical Insurance Group, has helped Museums Northumberland reach its final funding target.

Work on the new accessible play area will begin in the New Year.

Rowan Brown, Chief Executive of Museums Northumberland, said: “We’re hugely grateful to Ashington Town Council, Ecclesiastical Insurance Group, and the many, many generous members of the public for helping us realise our ambition to create a more accessible and inclusive play area at Woodhorn Museum.

“By expanding our existing play area to include more inclusive play equipment, we can ensure that all children can benefit from visiting our museum, and have the opportunity to learn about our county’s stories.”

Museums Northumberland has raised over £77,000 to create the new playground at Woodhorn. SUEZ Communities Trust and The Ridley Family Charity donated over £50,000. Ashington Town Council and Ecclesiastical Insurance Group both donated a further £10,000 each. The public crowdfunder campaign raised an additional £2,500 from 55 donations.

Cllr Mark Purvis, Chair of Ashington Town Council, said: “Ashington Town Council has been a proud supporter and funder of activities at Woodhorn Museum for a number of years now. The Council was delighted at this time to be able to support this excellent and highly commendable play area expansion project with a £10,000 financial contribution.

“The addition of modern, imaginative and fully inclusive play equipment is so important in both creating and expanding opportunities for children of all abilities. It’s great news that Museums Northumberland has achieved the overall funding target that will enable an early project start in further developing the overall outdoor facilities at Woodhorn Museum.”

Mark Hews, Group Chief Executive at Ecclesiastical Insurance Group, said: “At Ecclesiastical we believe business should be a force for good. Charitable causes need sustained support and a sense of financial stability. Through the second phase of our Movement for Good awards we are actively championing innovation, giving charities the backing they need to propel their plans forward and turn creative ideas into practical solutions that benefit society. We know that £10,000 can make a huge difference to the incredible work that charities do and we’re looking forward to seeing how this financial boost will change lives for the better.”

Adding to the existing play area at Woodhorn Museum, the new accessible play equipment will include a range of experiences to help children interact and learn through movement, sound, vision and memory. Equipment will include a new Pairs Game to build memory skills, themed around Woodhorn Museum’s mining heritage; a Ferraphone to introduce music and sound; a Cradle Nest Swing that can accommodate more than one child; Conference Stations to enable children to communicate across the play site; and a wheelchair accessible rotating plate.

The play area will be reached via a new wheelchair accessible path – with a small slide linking the path with the lower level site – and seating will allow parents to relax while being close by.

Rowan continued: “It’s important that people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities have the chance to experience our museums, and thanks to the generous donations we’ve received, we’re able to improve facilities at Woodhorn Museum so more children and families can benefit from learning about Northumberland’s rich history.”

Museums Northumberland cares for sites of historic interest and collections across the county, including Woodhorn Museum in Ashington, Berwick Museum and Art Gallery, Hexham Old Gaol and Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum.