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Diss Museum needs you: Basil calls for Angels to join scheme





The manager of Diss Museum is calling on people to become donors to the site in order to help it thrive and survive for future generations.

Basil Abbott, who has been in charge of the Market Place site since 2005, is hoping the revival of his Angels scheme, which he set up in 2016, could be part of the answer in helping to keep the museum going.

The idea sees supporters give £10 a year, or more if they wish, to receive regular updates on the museum and a chance for free town tours for friends and family.

Diss Museum Manager Basil Abbott says he has put around £20,000 into the museum since he has been a part of it. Picture: Mark Bullimore
Diss Museum Manager Basil Abbott says he has put around £20,000 into the museum since he has been a part of it. Picture: Mark Bullimore

Mr Abbott, who estimates he has invested £20,000 of his own money into the attraction, said: “I devised the Angels scheme knowing that funding would stop from Diss Town Council, which it did in 2020.

“It was intended to build into something whereby townsfolk would fund the museum. But it would have meant getting hundreds of people involved and that did not happen.”

At its start, there were about 30 Angels but now there are only a handful still subscribing and, in the year ending March 31, 2023, the museum ran at a loss of £1,845.

One of the new displays in the museum this year is one on Diss Town FC. Picture: Mark Bullimore
One of the new displays in the museum this year is one on Diss Town FC. Picture: Mark Bullimore

Last year, 4,268 people visited the site, with 80 per cent of those being tourists to the town. It is hoped the financial figures for the last 12 months will show it has broken even.

Although this is better than the year before, it leaves the site with no reserves for repairs or redecoration – improvements that Mr Abbott said it badly needs.

“I have paid for many things myself because I wear my heart on my sleeve for the town and the museum,” said the 74-year-old, who also appeared on Park Radio this week.

“I was born in Church Street, went to school at one end and work at the other end. The sense of satisfaction I have known in the job has been incredible.

Basil hopes new Angels, who would donate £10 a year to the site, will help to maintain the museum for the long-term. Picture: Mark Bullimore
Basil hopes new Angels, who would donate £10 a year to the site, will help to maintain the museum for the long-term. Picture: Mark Bullimore

“I’ve taken great pride in creating projects, winning awards, meeting the Dalai Lama and getting people involved in celebrating local history.

“Potential Angels will be helping something that is part of the heartbeat of the town.

“The museum is not just a building with interesting things in glass cases, but an organic body – a sizeable collection, talks, tours, projects, festivals, publications and work with schools all add to its influence.”

Mr Abbott and his team of volunteers continue to raise money for the museum, including hosting a ghost walk last year, which will be returning on July 20 and August 17.

They also sell bottled Burston Strike Ale, made by local breweries, at the Burston Rally and raise additional funds through Mr Abbott’s book, Call Back the Past: Giving a Buzz to History, which is still available on Amazon.

In reviving the Angels scheme, Mr Abbott said there were other ways for people to help, including through legacy donations, where people leave money in their wills.

“All of these together, including visitor donations, add up and will help to ensure the museum’s future,” he said.

“I have also been chairman of the Friends of Diss Museum for the last three years and we are in the process of trying to reconnect with anyone who we lost touch during the pandemic.

“As shown with last month’s opening parade, the museum is one of the liveliest aspects of Diss and we want to keep it that way.”

To find out how to donate or help, go to the museum’s website.



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