Major donation to St Albans museum in support of building transformation

MH Goldsmiths and Sons LTD director Dennis Goldsmith presents a cheque to portfolio holder for sport

MH Goldsmiths and Sons LTD director Dennis Goldsmith presents a cheque to portfolio holder for sport, leisure and heritage Cllr Annie Brewster for the museum fund. - Credit: Archant

A hat-trick of major donations has boosted fundraising efforts for the ambitious £7.75 million St Albans Museum and Gallery to be built at the landmark Town Hall.

Following a plea from a local charity, the St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust, £200,000 has recently been donated in support of the transformation of the Grade II* listed building into a major tourist draw.

Among those boosting fundraising coffers was the John Apthorp Charity, of Radlett, and the Kirby Laing Foundation, of Mill Hill, north London.

Dennis Goldsmith, a director of roofing contractors MH Goldsmith & Sons, of Knebworth, handed over a cheque for £5,000 and said: “We are a local company that employs local people. This is our way of giving something to the community. We are very proud to be supporting the new museum and gallery and I hope my donation will encourage more local businesses to step forward.”

Meanwhile, a dinner held at Sopwell House Hotel raised £71,000.

TV comedian and actor Hugh Dennis, star of BBC sitcom Outnumbered and Mock the Week, was a special guest at the event which included an auction in aid of the museum project.

Among the lots was a private tour of the House of Commons, donated by St Albans MP Anne Main, and a luxury week’s stay at a hotel in Marbella.

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Charity trustee and the district council’s portfolio holder for leisure and heritage, Cllr Annie Brewster, said: “The amount raised of over £71,000 is astonishing and is a tremendous boost to our fundraising appeal.”

Trust chairman Mike Gray said he was pleased that the hotel “chose to support us” with a fundraising gala for the heritage project.

The Town Hall is being converted into a state-of-the-art museum and gallery which is due to open in early 2018.

Less than £1 million now needs to be raised from the community for the project, which includes glass wings creating a walkway around the east and west sides offering a new view over the city centre and cathedral, and a revamped entrance.