Merger, grant applications and pirates boost Wells Maltings Project

A new merger with an award-winning community group, �1.3m worth of grant applications and a hearty group of swashbuckling pirates are driving forward the Wells Maltings Project.

Wells Maltings Trust, the charity set up in January to raise money for and oversee the planned �5 million redevelopment of the Wells Maltings and Sackhouse buildings, has merged with Wells Area Partnership this month.

It is believed this will be of significant benefit to the project, as the WAP has a positive track record of involvement with successful community projects.

The merger also means the Wells Maltings Project will have a second dedicated full-time member of staff, with WAP co-ordinator Ben Francis appointed as the community partnership co-ordinator to work alongside project manager Becky Jefcoate, who has been working on the project since November last year.

Ms Jefcoate said: 'This merger is a great boost to the project as it will bring in extra resource and people with valuable experience of fundraising and community engagement.

'We will be working hard to organise events and get more people involved in the project, and we always welcome new ideas.'

Meanwhile, there are currently 10 outstanding grant applications for a total of �1.,3 million.

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There has already been some success in securing �19,000 from the LSP Community Foundation, �15,000 from the Architectural Heritage Fund, �25,000 from the Trusthouse Charitable Foundation, �10,000 from the Sheringham Shoal Fund and �3,800 from the National Lottery Awards For All scheme.

Ms Jefcoate said: 'We have submitted some bids for major funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Rural Development Programme East, which I expect to hear back about next year.

'We have got several grant bids out there at the moment, and a big project like this might seem optimistic in this economic climate, but we are keeping positive and realistic about the whole thing and looking forward to making more progress next year.'

Following the success of the first Wells Pirate Festival, which ran for three days in September and raised �5,000 for the Wells Maltings Project, a new pirate group has formed in Wells.

The group, called Wells Freeboaters, will hold fortnightly meetings on the Dutch ship Albatros, moored at Wells, and organise regular events to raise money for and promote the Wells Maltings Project.

The group will work to ensure that Wells Pirate Festival becomes an annual event and take part in pirate re-enactments all over the country.

Wells Freeboaters are looking to recruit new members, and more information on the group is available by contacting Amy Gibson on 07585 667665 or emailing a.j.gibson@hotmail.co.uk

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