A right royal occasion to celebrate future of Gloucestershire’s heritage

Allchurches Trust had the pleasure of meeting HRH The Princess Royal when she formally opened the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub in Alvin Street, Gloucester, this week.

The Princess recognised the efforts of volunteers from the hub’s partners and highlighted the hub's positive impact on the local community. She was also introduced to some of the project funders, including Paul Playford and Emma Smith from Allchurches Trust, and acknowledged their crucial support in the new facility coming to fruition.

Along with having the opportunity to view displays of historic documents relating to her home, Gatcombe Park, and a selection of royal charters, the Princess received a tour of the Heritage Hub building, speaking to staff and volunteers from Gloucestershire Archives, Gloucestershire Family History Society, Gloucestershire Police History Project, Gloucestershire Local History Association, Gloucestershire County History Trust, Gloucester Rugby Heritage Group and the Friends of the Archives group. The Princess concluded her visit by unveiling a commemorative plaque.

The 'For the Record’ project was launched in 2014, aimed at improving the way the documented heritage of Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire is gathered, kept and shared.

As well as three new environmentally sustainable strong rooms providing 751m2 of extra storage, the hub provides new facilities that will benefit visitors, volunteers and community groups, including a training suite. A Community Heritage Development Officer will manage a training and engagement programme for more than 200 volunteers – more than 100 of them new.

This programme will train community groups to improve access to central collections by enhancing catalogue entries and descriptions with their local knowledge and to manage their own collections in the community and provide access from there. It will also support volunteers in gathering, editing and publishing spoken histories.

An e-preservation programme will preserve and make accessible digital material, including these spoken histories, and provide resources to help community groups to preserve their own digital treasures. Reminiscence packages are being developed for older people with dementia, while children in care will benefit from a programme on the theme of belonging.

Paul Playford, grants officer at Allchurches Trust, said: “It was a privilege to attend such a prestigious event but even more of an honour to play our part in supporting such an incredible project that will open up Gloucestershire’s rich history to so many more people and protect it for future generations. It is wonderful to see the archives reaching out to disadvantaged groups and supporting the health and wellbeing of its local community. The staff and volunteers are an inspiration and the treasures it holds are an awe-inspiring mix!”

Heather Forbes, head of the archives service at Gloucestershire County Council and South Gloucestershire Council, said: “Gloucestershire County Council and our partners were delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness to commend the volunteering, community and partnership projects now possible in our new facilities.”

You can plan your visit to the heritage hub and find out more online here

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