We started fundraising through coffee mornings held at my house. We had been informed by a member of our group that the Baptist Church on Alexandra Road, needed help as their roof was badly damaged and the inside of the Manchester Chapel needed clearing. We managed to organise the repairs to the roof with the roofers giving their time for free and the materials were donated. The probation service very kindly came along and cleared the Manchester Chapel. We were then able to clean the church hall from the mess left by water damage and in return the church allowed us the use of the church hall to hold our Victorian Tea Party. This was the first event that we held. Everyone pulled together baking cakes and borrowing costumes from the local amateur dramatic society.

From these small beginnings FOCH has gone from strength to strength. Having proved through market research that there was significant public interest in Cleethorpes’ heritage, we have since gone on to hold other highly successful events, including a World War One tribute, Roaring Twenties tea party at the Memorial Hall and a talk on the Luttrell Psalter by Professor Michelle Brown.

Promotional poster for Luttrell Psalter talk
Promotional poster for Luttrell Psalter talk

In 2012, we obtained charitable status and we also successfully applied for just under £9000 in funding from the Awards for All Big Lottery Fund, which enabled us to put on a successful series of events and workshops in 2013. Our local ward councillors have also supported us with funds.

Local people have lent us artifacts and photographs which we display at events. We gather together people’s stories, some of which we share on our website. In the longer term we intend to gather all of these together and publish a book, which will also help us to raise funds.

Although we would like to have a permanent base for a museum, at the moment that is too costly. We have also found that the events that we hold provide a focus. We feel that a few large events serve us better than a permanent home which might attract fewer attendees. Our events help to bring heritage to the fore for Cleethorpes. We’re still telling the story of Cleethorpes – this is just a different way of doing it.

Being run by enthusiastic volunteers, our outgoings are not great. However, the costs to watch out for, for any other groups who might consider doing something similar, are advertising (we produce plenty of posters and leaflets to promote our events as well as banners etc) and public liability insurance. Our cake-baking volunteers are reimbursed for ingredients but give their time for free. I would say the most important element in setting up a group like ours is passion. It has only taken a small group to grow FOCH into something valuable to the community, a genuine community resource. But it is time-consuming and can be very hard work.

We are very inclusive and ensure we have links with anyone and everyone. A member of the group produced an original housing list for us to help people researching their own properties; our local historian has been very helpful too. Networking and making connections with people and organisations has been key for us. We have links with York Museum who have been very generous in offering us exhibits. Local resources such as the library, local newspaper, tourist information office and local radio stations have all helped by promoting our events to ensure that we get a good turn out.

Community involvement with a venture like ours is key. Once history is personalised it brings it to life.

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