GREEN projects, a digital town trail and exciting art discoveries are all highlights of the year for Stratford Town Trust.
The group, whose yearly mission is to benefit the people of Stratford by awarding some £2million in grants, has released its annual report for 2021/22.
And much has been achieved financially, environmentally and socially for residents of all age groups.
The Trust reports it has given financial support to 44 local charities and every school in the town, as well as indirect support to many others through its community hub, Foundation House.
A particular highlight for members has been the creation of the Hugh Clopton Trail – a self-guided walk developed in collaboration with York University.
Launched in August 2021, its aim is to take people back in time in the company of Kit, a hungry apprentice painter. He explores the extraordinary impact of wealthy medieval merchant, Hugh Clopton, on the town of Stratford via a web-based tour that can be accessed anywhere at theguildchapel.org.uk
Progress has been made in the Trust’s commitment to the environment in securing Town Green status for Rowley Fields as well as continuing work to achieve Local Nature Reserve status for The Lench Meadows.
The Trust also enjoyed collaborating with local groups as part of Great Big Green Week – the largest event for climate and nature in the UK. Foundation House created an ‘activity passport’ so people could take part in activities including seed sowing and litter picking, in a bid to collect stamps and win prizes.
And despite forced closure for part of the year due to the pandemic, it has been an exciting 12 months for the Guild Chapel.
Thanks to funding from The Pilgrim Trust and The Rigby Foundation, the Trust was able to begin the next phase of the chapel’s conservation project.
The Trust needed an additional £5,000 to complete the project so a Crowdfunder campaign was launched. This enabled the panels in the northwest corner of the building to be moved and the mystery of the paintings hidden under the wall panelling was finally solved.
Two murals – the Dance of Death on the north wall and on the south wall, scenes from the Lyfe of Adam – were discovered.
Their existence was recorded by antiquarian Thomas Fisher in 1804 and they are of significant national and international importance. It is hoped the next phase will be to explore options for their presentation and find out more about them.
While at the Trust’s community hub, Foundation House, new spaces were provided for Stratford Youth Theatre, Safeline and storage for Stratford Baby Bank. The rooms were refurbished thanks to a grant award from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by the National Lottery Community Fund.
The funding has also helped to create a garden for all visitors and groups who use the community hub.
As well as supporting Stratford in Bloom and Stratford Christmas Lights, the Trust has worked on two pilot projects with young people. The first pilot was a partnership with Lifespace, who provide mentoring for young people. The other was Leaders Unlocked, a national youth participation body that enables young people and underrepresented groups to have a stronger voice on the issues that affect their lives.
Looking forward, the Trust is excited to be launching its new website. This will be a place where groups can tell their own stories and people can find clear and up-to-date information about how to get one of the Trust’s grants.