(Text of a THM Press Release dated 28th March 2007)
The Helicopter Museum (THM) at Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, which holds the world's largest dedicated collection of rotary-wing aircraft, has been awarded a £290,500 grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) towards new education, skills training and conservation facilities.
The museum, which has just completed a £150,000 new hangar extension funded from its own resources, will use part of the grant to develop a 669 sq m (7200 sq ft) new maintenance, restoration and training facility. Additional building works will provide a new technical library and archive facility, a 30/60 seat classroom/film theatre and other public facilities, as well as the addition of much needed new display spaces and insulation of the main hangar to improve the environment for the exhibits and visitors. Also included is the creation of new interactive education and training materials and employment of an Education Officer to organise outreach visits and Key Stage 2 and 3 school work.
Chairman of THM Trustees, Captain Elfan ap Rees said "2007 marks the 100th anniversary of the first ever flight by helicopter and so we are especially pleased that the HLF has supported this project, which marks a long-planned third phase expansion of the museum. Conserving our archival collection, which includes a considerable amount of rare documentation, technical manuals, photographs and film, and making that available for public study has long been a personal objective to round out the value of the museum. This grant will enable us to achieve that, as well as opening up the facilities more to schools and colleges in the region".
Nerys Watts, Heritage Lottery Fund Manager for the South West, said "This fantastic project will give local people and visitors alike an opportunity to learn much more about the The Helicopter Museum's fascinating collection, make better use of the supporting archives, and enable volunteers to get involved with vital conservation work. I have no doubt that the new facilities will be a big hit and I would encourage everyone to come and discover the enhanced museum for themselves"
In addition to the HLF grant, the museum has secured a further £95,000 in sponsorship and contributions of volunteer labour towards the scheme's £385,500 total costs. The major industry sponsor of the project is Agusta Westland with additional sponsorship coming from Claverham Ltd, Rolls-Royce, Weston-super-Mare Town Council and the Friends of THM. Work is expected to get underway in an April-May time frame.
THM is also in the process of finalising an agreement with the City of Bristol College to use the museum for Civil Aviation Authority/European Aviation Safety Agency helicopter engineering courses to meet a recognised shortage in the aviation industry . This will include the provision of a training manager and regular liaison to arrange school visits from a wide area. The scheme will benefit THM's own volunteer workforce and work experience students, by providing opportunities to be involved in relevant skills training and to improve the conservation of the collection.
The announcement is the second good news for THM this month, following the award of Accreditation by the Museum, Libraries and Archives South West earlier in March which recognised the professional standards attained by the largely volunteer-run museum.
28th March 2007
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