Volunteers lend a hand at Pontefract Castle

PR 4971
10 June 2015
Three new volunteers were given a warm welcome when they were on duty for the first time at Pontefract Castle’s official launch for the £3.5 million Key to the North project at the weekend.

Jayne Poppleton, Bethany Walker and Georgie Turner are the first people to be recruited onto the new scheme which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) as part of their £3.04 million contribution to the project.

Jayne, Bethany and Georgie helped promote the scheme to visitors, carry out evaluation and a variety of other tasks at the event on Saturday.

Georgie has a degree in history and would like a career in museums and heritage so thought that volunteering would be a good way to test the water. Bethany is currently studying for a history degree and thought volunteering would help with that, while Jayne is a member of Pontefract Heritage Group and wanted to contribute to preserving the castle and raising people’s awareness of it.

The three were greeted by Dr Fiona Spiers, Head of the HLF for Yorkshire and the Humber and by the Leader of Wakefield Council Cllr Peter Box.

Cllr Peter Box, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: “We’re delighted to welcome new volunteers to Pontefract Castle, one of the most important historical sites in the North of England.

“Work on its conservation and restoration is progressing well and I can’t wait to see the new visitor centre, which we expect will be open in 2016.

“Our district has an amazing heritage, from Roman remains in Castleford to the castles at Sandal and Pontefract. It’s only right that we do all we can to preserve that for future generations.”

Fiona Spiers, Head of HLF Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “Volunteers play a vital role in so many heritage projects, so I’m delighted to see the launch of this scheme.

“From the beginning we have been particularly impressed by the passion and support local people have shown for this project and this is a wonderful way to enable some of them to get actively involved in discovering the charms and rich history of Pontefract Castle which ranges from the murder of a king, through civil war sieges to the cultivation of liquorice.”

The launch event featured medieval crafts demonstrations and music, falconry displays and civil war re-enactors.  A large interpretation sign about the project was unveiled by Cllr Box, Dr Spiers and Neil Redfern, Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments for Historic England, one of the project’s other funders. Further contributions are being made by the Wolfson Foundation and by EPaC, a landfill charity.

Potential volunteers can choose from four roles – helping with events and activities, visitor experience, office duties or as a grounds assistant. The roles complement existing staff and do not replace them.

For more information please email castles@wakefield.gov.uk or phone 01977 723640.