Edith Smith exhibition – bringing the community together

By Amanda Schonhut

October 2019

A fundraisers work is never done! Yet more networking this month but it is always a pleasure to do because I meet so many fantastic people that are always willing to help the Museum along the way. We were delighted to have attend Grantham Business Club and for the opportunity to share our exciting news about Edith’s Growing Exhibition ‘Coffer Pot’. Everyone of course knew of the fabulous donation we received after being on BBC Radio Lincolnshire and Scott Daltons Show, I shall be ‘dining out’ on this for the rest of the year! 

We are so close to my target now we can finally start planning the exhibition, this makes me even more determined to smash it! A challenge is not a challenge for me unless I do even better than the goal I set myself… thanks to the amazing generosity of our Town I am well on my way and in less time than I imagined!  Thank you to you all!

November 2019

So we are back to lovely moments!

One of the most important things about this project was to make it about the Community, spanning all generations but to be particularly engaging to the young. I remember when David and I first talked about it, I said I wanted a child to look at our exhibition and say ‘’I want to do that, I want to be her’’. In the Museum that goal started with Margaret Thatcher so why can we not do the same with Edith. We all agreed.   Imagine then my delight to discover that one of our Local Primary Schools got in touch to tell us they too were doing a project on Edith!  Little Gonerby – Year 1 children – Amber Class came to see us and what fun we all had with a special talk just for them from our local expert on Edith – Courtney Finn.      

The children are well underway preparing their own exhibition to share with their school and I am very excited to see the end results in the coming weeks!

Our own journey, the response we have had and the support we get to being this project to life has been such a pleasure, it really does bring people together. I am delighted that part of that support has come from Lincolnshire Police and in particular from Assistant Chief Constable Kerrin Wilson. Having that ‘behind the scenes support’ to help us get it right and the knowledge and experience of their Officers has been a welcome boost to me personally for the final push in fundraising, as well as a great boost to the rest of the team who help me behind the scenes here at the Museum.

We are very grateful to them all and would like to think our little Museum is going all out ‘big’ on showcasing the efforts of Edith, women in policing as well as highlighting much needed and well deserved praise for our Police Force here in Lincolnshire but across the Country too with this project! Thank you to you all! 

And so I decided to write this blog!

January 2020

Things are progressing nicely and we are well into the planning phase of what the exhibition will look like. People are continuing to support our fundraising efforts and we are bowled over by the support we are getting from right across the community! Thank you to everyone for everything you are doing to help this project become a reality! Special thanks goes to Courtney Finn from Grantham Civic Society, Dave Thomas from Grantham College and Amy Allan-Jones, who is assisting with research.

There has been lots of coverage for our Exhibition on local radio and on TV and even interest from abroad! We are so excited to see the enthusiasm for Edith, she was a real trailblazer and its an honour to bring her story to life!

February 2020

The big moment has arrived! The build!

So excited to finally see all our hardwork for fundraising and planning come to life! We have engaged building contractor G. Cooper and Sons of Stamford to undertake building the cell that will form the main part of the exhibition. We are very grateful to Coopers who took on this build at short notice and even shifted work around in order for us to meet our deadline! Thank you to Tom!

Mid February 2020

The build is finished and we are now on the final push to get it painted, the storyboards up and the artifacts in place to complete the exhibit in time for our grand opening on February 27th. Thank you to Amanda – our Director of Fundraising, Tracey Smith – our Museum Manager, Amy Allan-Jones – our exhibition coordinator, Courtney Finn – of Grantham Civic Society and Dave Thomas and the students of Grantham College for the exceptional work in helping us complete the works needed to finish the project on time.

February 27th 2020 – Exhibition Launch Reception

The day we have all been working towards finally arrived! We were delighted to welcome to the Museum special guests from across the Community to preview the Exhibition of Edith Smith. These included those that have played a vital role in seeing the project through from conception to completetion. Amanda Schonhut – as Director of Fundraising and lead on this project, Amy Allan-Jones as exhibition coordinator, Courtney Finn from Grantham Civic Society and Dave Thomas from Grantham College along with his Btec students.

We were also delighted to welcome special guest Margeret Smith, Granddaughter of Edith to the reception to share our experiences and for her to see first hand the tribute we have created to her grandmother, she in turn shared with us her own memories and personal items – including rare family photos. The event was opened by Councillor Ray Wooten and PCSO Holly Farmer of Lincolnshire Police with Assistant Chief Constable Kerrin Wilson, also of Lincolnshire Police, giving us her own experiences of being a woman in today’s modern Police Force and how Edith pioneered that journey.

This was a wonderful evening bringing to fruition over twelve months of hardwork – every hour spent on this project was worth it to see the exhibition finally celebrate Edith’s life.

8th March 2020 – Celebrating International Women’s Day with the Public Launch of the PC Edith Smith Exhibition

Today was the official opening of the Edith Smith Exhibition took place, we chose International Womens Day to reflect the huge contribution Edith made in assuring a place for women in Policing with her own incredible work in this field. Edith’s story is remarkable and to be able to ensure that women and girls can aspire to achieve the seemingly impossible was always the aim of bringing the exhibition to fruition.

Today we welcomed many from the Policing Family, including young Police Cadets, to the Museum – PCSO Holly Farmer and Councillor Ray Wooten were once again on hand to open the doors along with Cadet Leader Paul Schofield and Sgt Rachel Wells.

It has been a remarkable journey to bring Edith’s story to life – none of which would have been possible without the amazing support we have had from the general public and their generous contributions to our Fundraising efforts. When this project was announced we could not have anticipated how much our town would get behind us to achieve our goal. To do so in just twelve months is incredible – we cannot thank you all enough!

Huge thanks goes to Margaret Smith for travelling from Kent and for sharing such wonderful moments and memories with us.

We would also like to thank all the volunteers who gave their free time to work behind the scenes on this project. Amy Allan-Jones – our Volunteer Exhibition Coordinator, Courtney Finn of Grantham Civic Society for their incredible research. Amanda Schonhut – Director of Fundraising for the concept, project management and raising of funds as well as the paint job! Tracey Smith – Museum Manager, for her assistance with the ‘brickwork’ and the endless cups of tea! Nick Jones – for always being on hand at a moments notice and to David Burling for his constant support and guidance throughout.

To Councillor Ray Wooten for his support and for his contribution to our fundraising with his local ward grant.

Special thanks goes to Lincolshire Police; ACC Kerrin Wilson, her assistant Vikki Hepple, Chief Inspector Phil Vickers, PCSO Holly Farmer, Cadet Leader Paul Schofield, his Cadets and Sgt Rachel Wells.

This project is proof of how our community thrives when we all pull together, we cannot think of more fitting way to celebrate Edith’s contribution to our town than that!

Thank you!!

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