CO-OPERATIVE Group Chair Bob Burlton has announced a £3m endowment to help secure the future of the National Co-operative Archive and the Pioneers Museum in Rochdale.
Announcing the Group’s initiative to Congress, Mr Burlton said that the endowment — which will yield around £150,000 per year — was essential to enable the Heritage Trust Fund trustees to preserve the Movement’s cultural heritage for future generations.
The announcement was hailed as “fantastic news” by Congress President Alan Gill and as a critical step in safeguarding the collections and artefacts for the future by Co-operative College Principal Mervyn Wilson (pictured) who later told a Congress workshop that, while the Group’s gesture was crucial, it was vital that other societies and groups within the Movement should make their own contributions to help build up the Fund.
Mr Wilson said that the recent announcement that the Co-operative Archive had received designation status — plus the Group’s pledge — would help open doors to more much needed cash, including possible funding from the National Lottery. He said the latest boosts for the Heritage Trust Fund established at Congress last year meant that the Movement’s priceless archives and treasures would be safeguarded in perpetuity.
Said Mr Wilson: “Our Movement has been around for 160 years and we have survived an amazing series of challenges. But we have to make sure our unique heritage assets are safeguarded in case we are hit by any economic or political disasters.
“The Trust’s independent charitable status clears important impediments for funders; clarifies ownership and ensures absolutely that assets can’t be sold off in the future.
“Remember, it’s not long since Bury Museum sold off a valuable Lowry painting to plug a hole in the council’s budget. But that can’t now happen as far as the Movement’s Archive is concerned.”