Morecambe Winter Gardens on course to hit £50k fundraising target thanks to successful match funding bid

Morecambe's Winter Gardens is on target to reach its £50,000 fundraising target after being awarded a grant of £25,000.

By Gayle Rouncivell
Monday, 5th October 2020, 12:30 pm
Members of the Friends of the Winter Gardens in the auditorium.
Members of the Friends of the Winter Gardens in the auditorium.

The money is being raised for the installation of a heating system into the Grade 2 listed theatre on Morecambe prom.

And with £20,000 raised so far, the Architectural Heritage Fund has now promised to match fund the fundraising up to £25,000.

With the closure of the building for four months and limited re-opening due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the Preservation Trust with the help of the Friends of the Winter Gardens had mounted a crowdfunding campaign.

Members of the Friends of the Winter Gardens in the cafe.

Their aim was to complete the funding necessary for the £250,000 infrastructure work starting on the building in November, including installing a new heating system.

Prof Vanessa Toulmin, chair of the Winter Gardens Preservation Trust, said: "We embarked on an ambitious funding campaign to secure the £50,000 shortfall in our heating funds which we were unable to raise through event revenue due to the pandemic.

"With the amazing volunteers and friends we have worked tirelessly over the past six weeks to put every penny onto our crowdfunding campaign.

"With the award of match funding from the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) our dream is within touching distance.

Peter Jetson at the organ.

"The trust shown in the new board of trustees by the AHF is an absolute validation that the decisions and restructuring we have made over the past 18 months were necessary for the future growth of the Winter Gardens.

"Every person who volunteers in the building does it for the love of the Winter Gardens and our amazing volunteers in both the Restoration and Building Team and the Friends of the Winter Gardens have made this happen."

Matthew Mckeague, chief executive of the Architectural Heritage Fund, said: "The Architectural Heritage Fund is delighted to be supporting the iconic Morecambe Winter Gardens, a building we have supported for many years.

"We want to support the revitalised efforts to get this beautiful theatre open more regularly and throughout the year, and that’s why we’re pledging to match pound-for-pound any money raised up to £25,000."

The Winter Gardens fundraising stall.

The Winter Gardens has been re-opened partially at weekends with the Friends of the Winter Gardens operating tours, opening the café and local musician Peter Jepson treating the Sunday afternoon crowd to a regular organ concert.

Since re-opening more than 5,000 visitors have been to the building and donations both online and in the theatre are now approaching £20,000.

The trust now has three weeks to reach the final target, with an additional £5,000 match required to take the total funds raised to £50,000.

Prof Toulmin said: "It is heart-warming to see the love and affection shown to the Winter Gardens from all over the world.

Tour guide Peter Wade with volunteers wearing The Who T-shirts, from the Winter Gardens in 1966.

"We said in our crowdfunding appeal that the Winter Gardens is the People’s Palace and this appeal and the comments from the supporters has totally overwhelmed us.

"We’ve had donations from America, Australia, South Africa, and many from Bradford and Sheffield as well as Lancashire of course.

"But notwithstanding the contributions which are so essential, it is the memories that people recall that makes this campaign so fantastic.

"The Winter Gardens Morecambe is on its way back after many years of decline and I cannot thank the people of Morecambe, Lancashire and the world for helping us on our journey."

To donate to the Winter Gardens campaign, where every penny you donate will be matched 100 per cent, please go online here or drop by at the weekend and enjoy a cup of tea, buy a postcard or take a tour - every penny spent goes to the campaign.