Pensioners flock to special museum day

Museums in Norfolk could soon be packing in the pensioners as the county's museum chief hailed the success of a campaign to get more elderly visitors.

Museums in Norfolk could soon be packing in the pensioners as the county's museum chief hailed the success of a campaign to get more elderly visitors.

The overwhelming popularity of Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse's Older People's days for the over 55s prompted high level support for similar schemes on Friday.

Vanessa Trevelyan, head of Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service, praised the Gressenhall days and said it had opened the museum to the frail, disadvantaged and disabled.

During the days people over 55 were able to get in for a reduced rate of £4, drivers had free entry and there were a range of activities, stalls and costumed guides.

Over the course of the three Older Peoples' days the museum attracted 2753 visitors, with 85pc of those being aged 60 and over.

Norfolk's head of museums and archaeology Stuart Gillis said that Gressenhall wanted to run the days again next year and Ms Trevelyan said the museums service would see if any government funding could be used.

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Speaking at the Breckland area museums committee Ms Trevelyan said: “I hope we will have some more money available for it because it has been a great success,” she said.

“I saw a wheelchair user being pushed by a blind person, it was great because it showed that people attended who would not have been as comfortable in a busier environment.”

Mr Gillis said the county council was moving away from the idea that it was enough just to provide care homes for the elderly towards how to improve their day-to-day lives.

He said: “If older people are socially engaged then this can help them really enhance their quality of life.

“These were basically great big school outings for older people and you really got a sense of the fun they were having all around Gressenhall.

“They really seemed to respond well to a day aimed specifically at them.”

Speaking at the meeting Mr Gillis also said that while visitor numbers for this year at Gressenhall looked likely be similar to the 84,000 of last year the museum income appeared to have decreased, adding that there were more people returning on museum passes than new visitors.

He added that the museum was committed to developing its Go Green event it had held this year to promote sustainable living.

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