A National Lottery Heritage Fund grant is hard won so the team at the SS Freshspring Trust were especially thrilled to learn they had been successful with a recent bid. The Trust was awarded a grant of just over £141,000 to support a project spanning two open seasons running over 18 months. John Puddy, Freshspring’s chair commented "It was an astounding result and enables us to take the next crucial steps in our development. We are extremely grateful to the NLHF for continuing to invest in our future. What’s more we’re going to be able to offer two new roles, enabling people to take paid work with us, which is an immediate boost for the area as well as theTrust and its heritage ship."
The project encompasses four main areas of activity: planning and development, strengthening the Trust’s governance, embracing environmental goals and broadening the audience of people engaging with Freshspring.
The bid was submitted in December with some strong letters of support from a range of organisations including Torridge Council, Appledore dockyard owners Harland and Wolff, Bideford Town Council, Bideford Town Centre Partnership, National Historic Ships, Petroc College, local maritime charity Way of the Wharves and TTVS.
The success comes at a time when the overall area is receiving considerable attention: Torridge was awarded levelling-up funding of £15.6m in January to develop a clean maritime research and development centre in Appledore. Last year the Arts Council England (ACE) recognised that there is under-investment in North Devon and Torridge and awarded National Portfolio status and funding to several local arts organisations, including the Plough Arts Centre, in Torrington and has continued to invest in the Burton Gallery in Bideford. A Northern Devon Cultural Strategy has also been developed in the last year with ACE investment and support, led by Alison Mills of Barnstaple Museum.
“The overarching focus for the SS Freshspring project is increasing our resilience,” said deputy chair Annemarie Shillito “but we can only grow and flourish if the whole community is engaged and thriving too. The recent investment and encouragement in Northern Devon is very positive. I believe the arts and heritage have a huge part to play in regeneration, in people’s wellbeing as well as wealth and tourism.”
SS Freshspring Trust’s ambition is to see the ship steaming again but not only for the glory of the restoration. The Trust’s social purpose is engaging and inspiring young people and helping them see a future in engineering and all manner of roles related to maritime heritage. This area of their work and their core funding is still something they need to raise funds to support so if you’d like to know more, to visit, volunteer or donate to the charity, do see https://ssfreshspring.co.uk or https://www.facebook.com/SSFreshspringTrust/ For more information on how to apply to the National Lottery Heritage Fund see https://www.heritagefund.org.uk
Freshspring have several exciting events coming up. On Sunday 26th March, any Lottery ticket holders will be able to visit SS Freshspring for free. This event is part of National Lottery Open Week and anyone who visits a National Lottery supported project showing a National Lottery ticket, Instant Win Game, or scratch card (physical or digital) can take up this special offer. Any age of lottery ticket is acceptable and will be valid when visiting. One ticket can gain free entry for as many as a family group of six people. There is also an exciting (ticketed) event with a ‘Shanties and Pasties’ evening on Saturday 1st April.
The ship officially opens to the public on Sunday 9th April, 11am-4pm and will be open every Sunday until the end of the season. On 9th April there will be plenty of Easter themed activities onboard, including a fun ‘chick challenge’ and teddy bear hunt. There will be small prizes for every child who takes part!