THE Countess of Wessex has paid a royal visit to Haslemere Educational Museum as part of its 125th birthday celebrations.
She was given a full guided tour to see the award-winning museum in action and was introduced to many of the volunteers, support staff, staff and trustees who help with the day-to-day organisation of the museum.
Greeted outside by Dame Sarah Goad, the countess was introduced to Dr Helen Bowcock, the high sherriff, Pat Ellis, mayor of Waverley, Libby Piper mayor of Haslemere, Lisa O’Sullivan, the town clerk, Bernard Coe, the president, and Melanie O’Dell, museum chairman, before moving on to see the extensive library used for research, the shop, the archives, and the galleries.
In the education room the countess met a group of young children from the Early Years Group and the Saturday Club. She laughed and joked with them as she helped them pull the insides out of the museum’s mummy, starting with the brain and working through to the intestines. These then had to be put in the correct pot for the burial.
Further round she was presented with a posy of flowers by Isla O’Dell and a basket of gifts from the museum by Sophie O’Dell and Bethany Hughes.
During the tour she was introduced to leaders of each group in the different rooms and was able to hear what they did to help in their different departments, from the flowers for the nature table, cleaning, reception desk, arranging exhibitions and educational tours.
She also met Elizabeth Dick, a great-grand-daughter of the founder Sir Jonathan Hutchinson.
The Museum may be 125 years old but it has a very modern feel and has won many awards such as The Nation’s Favourite Museum, and the Sunday Telegraph’s Family Friendly Museum, both of which were obtained last year.
The Countess of Wessex heard of the museum’s current campaign to raise £1m for an endowment to ensure its future.
She was told escalating costs and overheads at the museum are making it ever more difficult for those who run it, to maintain the high standards of operation the museum has always set itself in the past.