Over 300 IT staff swapped software for spades, paint brushes and brooms for a day of volunteering at a popular South Tyneside visitor attraction.
Sage workers put on their wellies and warm coats yesterday to support ongoing improvement works at Jarrow Hall – Anglo Saxon Farm, Village and Bede Museum, one of the region’s best-loved tourist venues.
Operated by communities’ charity Groundwork South Tyneside and Newcastle (STAN), Jarrow Hall is being prepared for a full re-opening to in April.
Sage staff worked alongside Groundwork’s team and volunteers to clear Jarrow Hall’s court yard and to render the historic building, and to put up fencing, build a pontoon, clear pathways, plant and paint.
Groundwork STAN partially opened the site’s facilities - which include a heritage museum celebrating the life of 7th Century scholar the Venerable Bede, an Anglo-Saxon village and farm, and historic Jarrow Hall, last October.
Sage, one of the region’s largest employers, allows its staff up to five days volunteering per year through Sage Foundation, a global philanthropic initiative from Sage plc, and has hosted a European-wide volunteer day to encourage as many colleagues as possible to take part.
Staff from Groundwork STAN joined Sage’s volunteers during the fun but near freezing five-hour event.
Leigh Thompson, programme manager, from Sage Foundation said: “At Sage Foundation, we are committed to taking action to build sustainable social, economic and entrepreneurial opportunities in our local communities around the world.
“That’s why we are proud to host over 300 colleagues today here in South Tyneside.”
Andrew Watts, executive director of Groundwork STAN, said: “I am very grateful that staff from Sage have come out in the cold to do such valuable work.
“Their involvement and willingness to help shows just how well recognised Jarrow Hall is, not only as one of the North East’s best visitor attractions, but also as one of its most important.
“By offering Groundwork such wonderful backing, Sage has shown just how important it views supporting the work we are doing within the local community.”
Jarrow Hall’s central focus will remain the life and times of Bede, who was born around 673AD and spent much of his life in Jarrow. He died in 735AD.
Groundwork’s long-term plans include adding commercial attractions to secure the site’s long-term financial viability.
An 18th Century Georgian mansion in the venue’s grounds and from which the attraction takes its name, is also being developed.
Work has started to turn its ground floor into an attractive café, and first floor rooms are being adapted for multiple activity use.
The site will be promoted as an educational facility, offering school visits and training opportunities for young people and adults.