Welcome to the Spring 2021 edition of our In the Loop members’ newsletter, where we focus on the work of new members who are joining us at Hunts Forum. Please take a while to learn about these organisations as they introduce themselves. Each one is a possible partner, collaborator and inspiration.
The monthly News Forum now includes the latest news from members. We are always happy to include news linked to stories and information at any time from members in this publication. These are published on the third Thursday of the month. If you have something for News Forum, please get in touch.
In this issue of In the Loop we hear from two very different charity members, both in their own way integral parts of their communities:
Hello, my name is Anne-Marie Hamilton and I am Chairman of Huntingdonshire Children’s Charity, known locally as Dreamdrops.
Dreamdrops was set up in 2005 to make a real difference to the lives of local children who are ill, or have significant health needs, and to support their families, both in hospital and in the local community.
Money raised by the charity helps to buy those little (and large) “extras” that are not covered by NHS public funds, but which make a hospital stay more comfortable for children and their families. We also raise funds to help sick children who are being nursed at home.
In 2019, we formed The Collins Club, to provide some much-needed help and support to families caring for an autistic child; arranging for some family days out, a Christmas party and a visit to the cinema. When the pandemic interrupted these events, we provided support packs for the children, as they find disruption to their lives particularly stressful. We have also provided several support packages over the last year to frontline NHS staff based in Hinchingbrooke Hospital and in the local community, to help them through these challenging times.
We are extremely grateful to all the local businesses, organisations, Rotary clubs, councillors, frontline staff, families and individuals who help support the charity in so many wonderful ways. For example, sisters, Lily and Daisy Bell, walked 5 miles every day for a month, and their little sister, Rose, who is only 2 years old, walked 3-4 miles a day for the charity and, on her best day, she walked 5.5 miles!
From the time she was born, Daisy has spent a lot of time on Holly Ward at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, and now has community support through Dreamdrops. She and her family wanted to enable the charity to help more families like theirs, and so decided to do the walk to raise funds for us. Without their amazing effort, and those of so many other people in our community, we would not be able to provide for the families in the way we do.
We are also very fortunate to be supported by the Mayor of Huntingdon, Karl Webb, who has selected Dreamdrops as his chosen charity for his Mayoral term.
Our most recent campaign has involved the provision of refurbished laptops and tablets for primary and secondary schools across Huntingdonshire. The project has involved the whole community, with local companies and individuals donating unused laptops and tablets which were collected up for us by community support groups in Ramsey, Huntingdon and St Neots, and by the members of Riverport Women’s Institute in St Ives. The machines were then wiped and refurbished by a specialist computer company, I-Dash, in Eaton Socon and PAT-tested by their next door neighbours, CambsPAT UK. We are very grateful to everyone for the very generous contribution that each has made, as these donated devices will give Huntingdonshire school children the lifeline they need to stay in touch and interact with their school, and have proved particularly helpful during the recent lockdown.
The aim of Dreamdrops is to make life a little easier for children, their parents and NHS staff, when it can be at its most stressful.
For more information about Dreamdrops, or to make a donation, please call, visit or email:
St Neots Museum
St Neots Museum is a friendly, local museum serving the people of St Neots and the surrounding villages. Located in the town’s Victorian Police Station and Magistrates Court, the permanent displays tell the story of the town from prehistoric times to the 1990s. The museum opened in 1995 and aims to preserve the history of the area and tell the stories of local people. From Stone Age hunter gatherers to the Tudors and Stuarts, to the Eynesbury Giant, Victorian industry and new growth after two devastating World Wars, the area has a rich story to tell.
The museum collects objects, photographs, ephemera and information and has become an important community asset, welcoming over 11,000 visitors in 2019. With three part-time members of staff and over fifty volunteers, we serve local schools, community groups and people of all ages and abilities, including tourists to the town. We run regular sessions for local groups, including carers with toddlers, Beavers and Brownies, overseas students, dementia sufferers and their carers, paranormal groups and more. The museum has a thriving activity and events programme running family activities, town walks, talks to local groups and an annual living history festival held on the market square.
The museum is a charitable company and is partly financed by a grant from St Neots Town Council as well as by donations from local Parish Councils, from the Friends of the Museum and by other fundraising initiatives. We also run a popular museum gift shop selling souvenirs, local history books, jewellery, cards, textiles and our ‘Made in St Neots’ range of handmade gifts by local artists and makers. Volunteers are an essential part of the museum workforce, running the museum reception, documenting the museum’s collections and carrying out weekly maintenance.
In 2019 the museum was voted ‘Cambridgeshire Small Museum of the Year’ at the Museums in Cambridgeshire Awards. Whilst a thriving museum for over 25 years St Neots Museum is now facing growing challenges. The Victorian building needs major repair and its small public spaces make hosting groups of over 30 people difficult. The museum displays need updating as new communities grow in the town and new items are donated and new archaeological discoveries made. Financial resilience is also becoming more challenging as times change and the museum is currently developing exciting redevelopment plans to make us fit for the 21st Century. Thank you to Hunts Forum for providing support in these challenging times.
For further information contact:
Liz Davies, Curator
8 New Street, St Neots, Cambridgeshire, PE19 1AE
Charity No. 800074
Museum Tel: 01480 214 163
Follow on Facebook or Twitter @StNeotsMuseum