May 29, 2020 @ 16:14 by Richard Dawson
A North East trust based at UNESCO World Heritage site, Hadrian’s Wall, has secured its future and the potential to make new discoveries across two Roman sites.
Vindolanda Charitable Trust was founded in 1970 to preserve and carry out archaeological research at the Vindolanda Fort – a site occupied by the Romans from approximately 85 AD to 370 AD.
The trust normally welcomes up to 30,000 visitors each month during the summer and 150,000 annually who come to explore the historical landmarks.
Since the Government announced restrictions that forced both Vindolanda and Magna Fort to close, the trust’s income streams collapsed, leading it to furlough 37 of its 46 staff.
In 2019, the trust’s turnover was £1.5 million but it predicts just 30 per cent of this amount this year.
Despite working hard to reduce overheads, the trust needed financial support and approached Lloyds Bank for a business loan.
It has since secured £300,000, which will safeguard the future of Vindolanda, its sites and museums.
Dr Andrew Birley, CEO and director of excavations at The Vindolanda Trust, said: “Our income relies on people visiting us, especially tourists from abroad. When the outbreak began and the travel ban was imposed, we knew our cash flow would be heavily impacted.
“This is normally our busiest time of the year, but we’ve been forced to close our doors until it’s safe to reopen.
“We estimate that there’s several hundred years left until the sites are fully explored.
“Thanks to Lloyds Bank, we now know that we can continue our excavation work once the lockdown is lifted and welcome back visitors to learn about this important time in our history.
“Our core team is working hard to maintain our sites and map our pathway out of this challenging situation.
“With this additional funding, we have the peace of mind knowing that we now have the cash flow in place to cover overheads and begin operations again quickly when restrictions begin to ease.”
Paul Watson, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank, said: “The finance secured by the Vindolanda Trust will help to see it through the unprecedented challenges in the weeks and month ahead.
“The trust works to support a historical site of global importance and protecting sites like this is essential if we want to continue learning about our history.
“This is a great example of a business working through the crisis so it can continue its great work in the heritage sector that benefits the education of people far and wide.”