Well-wishers rally round Bede's World after shock closure
People from around the world have stepped in to help a South Tyneside tourist attraction reopen its doors.
Bede’s World in Jarrow, which celebrates the life and times of Venerable Bede, closed on Friday after the charitable trust which ran it went into administration because of a cash crisis – costing 27 workers their jobs.
Mike Smith, chairman of the board of trustees, said it’s unclear how long the museum will be shut – but it is hoped it will be opened in the future under new leadership.
Former volunteer Hildy Harland, 26, from Jarrow, is so passionate about the museum where she first started her career as a performer, she launched an online campaign in a bid to get it reopened.
Already Hildy’s fundraising page for the heritage site has generated £1,990, while a Facebook page has attracted 1,799 supporters.
Hildy said: “So many people have been left upset by the closure of Bede’s World, and they’re so passionate about making sure it re-opens.
“I have been overwhelmed by the support. I’ve had people get in touch from across the world, even America.
“I set the pages up and within a couple of days there’s hundreds of pounds dropping into an account and so many people joining the group.”
On Saturday, a picnic was held outside the Church Bank venue – with many supporters in full Anglo-Saxon costume.
Today, Hildy is due to meet a financial adviser to learn how the campaigners can become a not-for-profit organisation.
However, it is not their aim to end up running the museum – which leased its buildings and land from South Tyneside Council – as a new type of charitable trust.
Hildy said: “We’re all busy people and have our own careers. We don’t want to became a new charitable trust.
“I have been told it would cost £250,000 to keep Bede’s World running, so it would be crazy to think we could generate that ourselves.
“We do want to show an investor just how much Bede’s World means to people, and then they will be able to use the cash we raise to give it a kick-start.”
Hildy and her fellow supporters will also be meeting this evening to discuss how their organisation will operate.
She said: “We want to make a proper go of this, to give Bede’s World a chance.
“So this will be a good opportunity for us to meet up, discuss where we go from here and hand out roles and different tasks to people.”
Mr Smith said: “Bede’s World has closed so it can reopen in the future under new leadership and continue to deliver a service to the community and promote the works of Bede.
“It’s had to close because of financial pressures and it’s sad that this has had to happen, but we’re looking to new beginnings and a new approach to achieve a sustainable future.”
To donate to the campaign, visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/save-bedes-world-museum or search for ‘Save Bedes World Museum’ on Facebook.