Astonishingly, we’re now a year into this project, so this may be an appropriate moment to reflect on the course of the last twelve months. It’s been a busy, interesting year working with lots of people from different backgrounds. We’ve all been learning lots of things, not least being the number of people there are who are interested in heritage related volunteering activities. And they’ve been working very hard indeed! In percentage terms we’ve been making much more progress with the collections than we anticipated we would at this stage. Not surprisingly really, given that at the time of writing volunteers had contributed an astonishing 2,117 days’ work. That’s a huge resource and everyone deserves a very big thank you for all their hard work. And very diverse work it’s been, with our volunteers working with everything from medieval subsidy rolls to 400,000,000 year old fossils. Some of our volunteers have been working with both museum objects and historic records and some of them have been travelling a long way, one person, for example, travelling all the way from Whitchurch to Ludlow, a distance, I think, of some forty five miles! All of this is, of course, very good news for Shropshire’s heritage and we’ve been bowled over with people’s enthusiasm and their willingness to contribute so much. On this journey of discovery thus far we’ve already found out so much about subjects like plans to impose martial law in Shropshire in 1940 in the event of a Nazi invasion, about the attempted assassination of Queen Victoria, about Shrewsbury’s medieval pavements and the impact of plague on the town. We’ve travelled with the Rector of Cound to the coronation of the Tsar and we’ve marvelled at the seriously bad (17th century) behaviour of the Shropshire clergyman reported by his parishioners to the high court of Parliament.
Looking to next year, highlights already look like being the creation of a brand new local history centre and an exhibition of Joseph Lewis Della Porta’s Victorian photographs of Shrewsbury shops. No doubt we’ll be discovering more from the collections and promoting them and, perhaps best of all, continuing to work with the volunteers we have and meeting new ones. To all our volunteers we say a very big thank you for all of your hard work. And, of course, a very happy Christmas and all the best for 2013!