Reflections before the AGM – ways that you can help us

‘Little Offa’s’ Throne, the new draw at the Offa’s Dyke Centre –  also available for hire by film companies

For many years the Offa’s Dyke Association has carried out the Tourist Information Centre (TIC) function for Knighton under a service level agreement with Powys County Council. At the beginning of 2018 the county confirmed what we already knew, that it had decided to withdraw financial support from all community-run TICs in Powys.

We were not unprepared for the news, in fact the past 18 months or so has witnessed a radical restructure of the business and we are more focused on delivering our charitable aims. Our membership has started to grow again, we have invested in new facilities and equipment at the Offa’s Dyke Centre, there is the new website, meeting room hire is on the up, we have our basement tenant and wherever possible we have reduced costs.

On the charitable aim side we have established our own Conservation Fund, awarding four modest but important awards, without which the conservation-based projects would not have gone ahead. We are the lead client, alongside Cadw and Historic England, for the forthcoming Conservation Management Plan for Offa’s Dyke. After two year’s planning and research the plan will be published in the summer. We are also active members of the Offa’s Dyke Collaboratory and in March this year we co-hosted with the Collaboratory a successful conference, Offa’s Dyke Heritage, here at the Centre.

We have much to look forward to this year. In July the Clwyd Powys Archaeology Trust is organising an Archaeology Day, based at the Centre and in the park in Knighton, with re-enactors and fun activities for people of all ages. We are also assisting the Collaboratory with a public conference in September in Oswestry.

There is of course Offa’s Throne, our new hands-on, or rather sit-on, display item at the Centre. Made possible with generous funding from the Kay Trust Fund it is a serious interpretation of a medieval ceremonial chair, strongly influenced by St Stephen’s Chair in Hereford Cathedral. The carpentry is 100% faithful to the construction and jointing techniques of the early second millennium, likewise the decoration. We hope that visitors and Trail walkers will want to have their photos taken sitting in the chair – in exchange we hope for a generous donation. We might, perhaps, interest film production companies in hiring it out for historical dramas?

Meanwhile we are on the lookout for volunteers to lend a hand here at the Centre. We cannot afford to employ any more staff yet we are acutely aware, as the busy summer period approaches, that the business, in particular the tea room, needs additional staffing.

By the end of 2018 we will know the direction of travel that the ODA and the Centre will be going in. This will continue to be a very challenging year but at the same time let’s Iook forward to celebrating our 50th anniversary here in 2019. To help us get there please consider joining the ODA or by making a donation.