Funding secured for new accessible play area at Northumberland museum

A funding appeal for an accessible play area at a popular visitor attraction has reached its goal.

By David Sedgwick
Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 9:00 am
Museums Northumberland has raised the £77,000 needed for a new accessible play area at Woodhorn Museum.
Museums Northumberland has raised the £77,000 needed for a new accessible play area at Woodhorn Museum.

Museums Northumberland, the independent charity that provides Northumberland’s museums service, has raised the £77,000 needed for the play area at Woodhorn Museum, in Ashington.

Work is now set to begin in the New Year after the charity’s successful public crowdfunder campaign, along with donations from Ashington Town Council and Ecclesiastical Insurance Group.

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 raised over £77,000 after 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 while 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.”

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.

A new wheelchair accessible path, with a small slide linking the path with the lower level site, will be created and seating close by.

Rowan added: “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.”