Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Keith Mans has welcomed an award of Government funding to Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Romsey, to support the charity to weather the economic impacts of COVID-19.
The Gardens, which have been under the County Council’s sole trusteeship since 1977, are among 445 organisations to receive a share of £103 million in the first round of funding from Government’s £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund for Heritage. The fund aims to help restart vital reconstruction work and maintenance on cherished heritage sites, keeping venues open and supporting those working in the sector. Sir Harold Hillier Gardens applied for funding of up to £925,000 to cover the annual revenue that is expected to be lost due to the pandemic.
The award-winning and world-renowned 180-acre garden and arboretum were established in 1953 by the distinguished plantsman Sir Harold Hillier. In addition to being a stunning recreation venue, the Gardens also play a key role in horticulture, conservation and education.
Councillor Mans said:
Like many other charities and attractions throughout the country, Sir Harold Hillier Gardens has experienced a significant loss of income during the pandemic due to lower than usual visitor numbers throughout the peak spring and summer months. This very welcome financial support from Government will help towards the income deficit that would otherwise prevent the Gardens from breaking even for this financial year – thereby helping it to recover from the economic impact of coronavirus and find a firmer footing for the years ahead.
We have been very pleased to see visitors return to the Gardens since we reopened in June, and we will use what funding we receive to help maintain the various COVID-secure measures currently in place to keep people safe, as well as to implement any additional COVID measures that may be required, in the near future.
Grants of up to £1 million from the Culture Recovery Fund will deliver a lifeline for the heritage sector in England with further support to follow and larger grants for capital projects awarded through the Heritage Stimulus Fund.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:
As a nation it is essential that we preserve our heritage and celebrate and learn from our past. This massive support package will protect our shared heritage for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounceback post COVID.
For more information about planning a trip the Gardens, becoming a Gardens member, or volunteering, visit hants.gov.uk/thingstodo/hilliergardens