24th Aug, 2019

Coventry's 'birthplace' Priory Visitor Centre in funding bid amid new closure threat

Felix Nobes 28th Mar, 2019 Updated: 28th Mar, 2019

ONE of the city’s historical treasures faces closure once more and has asked for Coventry’s help in a vital funding bid.

The Priory Visitor Centre was built on the ruins of the city’s first cathedral said to be founded 1,000 years ago by Lady Godiva and the Earl Leofric.

The centre opened little more than a decade ago with its preserved remains and artefacts having been buried out of sight for hundreds of years.

The internationally important ‘city’s birthplace’ was re-opened after the Coventry Observer’s #savethepriory campaign.

It was shut by the council in an attempt to save £100,000 a year.

Now it needs the city’s support once more in its bid to secure £47,000 of National Lottery funding as part of this year’s People’s Projects campaign.

It would safeguard the centre’s future as it prepares to play a central role in Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture 2021.

Founding director Carole Donnelly said: “Without this funding the Priory Visitor Centre may well have to close again.

“This is an exciting opportunity to raise awareness and support for our work and, with your help, to secure further much-needed funding.

“We urge local people to get behind us. If successful, this will help us to make an even bigger difference to our local community. “We provide a real safe community space inside the city centre, creating new jobs for local people and opportunities for social enterprises while celebrating Coventry’s unique medieval history.”

The funding will preserve the Coventry Community Heritage Cafe – one of the centre’s main sources of revenue.

If successful, the priory will use the grant to Improve the café area, develop the Cloisters garden area, provide job opportunities for local people and continue hosting a number of community events.

The cafe is a place people can come together to meet new friends and celebrate the city’s rich history.

It also stages heritage talks, community events and much more to help people overcome and reduce loneliness.

The centre is one of five groups in ITV Central West region in the running for a share £3million National Lottery funding up for grabs across the UK.

In each region, the three that receive the most public votes will each receive a grant of up to £50,000 to help them continue their work to improve local people’s lives and help their communities to thrive.

The need to keeep the centre alive has been endorsed in the past by The Bishop of Coventry, the reverend Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Coventry South Labour MP Jim Cunningham, Blackadder actor and former Channel 4 ‘Time Team’ presenter, Sir Tony Robinson, and eminent medieval historian and TV presenter Dr Jonathan Foyle.

On Monday, April 1 Coventry Priory CIC broadcasts live on ITV Central West News at 6pm to showcase its Community Heritage Cafe and why it deserves to win the grant.

Voting opens at 9am on Monday, April 1 and the centre is asking all Coventry residents to support it by voting at www.thepeoplesprojects.org.uk

Voting closes at noon on Monday, April 15.

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