As we reach the end of another difficult year, we know that, like many other similar organisations, we have challenges ahead but we’re reassured by the ongoing support we receive.
Over the past 12 months we’ve weathered the impact of the pandemic and have focused on what we do best – providing a welcoming and safe venue for people to visit and meet with friends in our café, enjoy our exhibitions and take part in our programme of events and activities. Our community space remains a home for a variety of groups, including businesses, support groups and other charities. We’ve also promoted health and wellbeing through our exercise and mindfulness classes, as well as through our walking tours.
We’ve had an ongoing appeal for new volunteers and we’re grateful to those individuals who have been with us for years and to newcomers to the team, whose support means our rotas are covered and that we can open five days a week.
There is no doubt that we could not function without the selfless support of our volunteers. Whether they’re welcoming visitors to the building, helping in the café, researching and producing material for exhibitions, giving talks, leading walks, growing and selling plants to help boost our funds or supporting the centre in other ways, including keeping our flower beds colourful, their involvement is much appreciated.
We were delighted when the efforts of our volunteers were rewarded by the Elected Mayor of North Tyneside, Norma Redfearn, who announced they were to receive a Spirit of North Tyneside award for helping to make the borough a thriving place. The award was presented to our volunteers by Anya Lawrence, North Tyneside Council’s VCSE Liaison Manager at the Old Low Low Light’s volunteer Christmas Party.
With much support from volunteers, we opened a new exhibition celebrating the achievements of some of the great people of North Shields. As part of this, we are planning a new display on the Linskill family to open early in 2023 and we’re thinking through our longer-term exhibitions programme, subject to having funding to pay for the printing of display boards.
Earlier in the year we began developing a longer-term plan for events and activities and made an appeal for people who might wish to give talks at the Old Low Light. We were overwhelmed at the response, including from people who have been regular speakers over several years and newcomers who are already contributing to our programme of talks. As such we have been able to plan for months ahead.
We’ve also been able to reintroduce school visits and have welcomed hundreds of schoolchildren to the centre, so they could find out more about the history and heritage of their local area. We look forward to more school visits during 2023 as evidence shows that these result in many benefits for children and schools.
More recently we were pleased to join the network of venues offering ‘a warm space’ in North Tyneside and hope that on Fridays over the winter local people will feel able to call by for a free cuppa and a chat.
The day before we closed for the festive break we were delighted to re-start our programme of classic concerts by first rate chamber musicians. We had a full house for the first concert and look forward to three more in the coming months.
So, all in all, despite some challenges ahead, we have much to be proud of and much to look forward to.
May I take this opportunity to thank you for your ongoing support and wish you all the very best for this festive season and 2023.
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