Thursday, 29 September 2011

A £9m Funding Jackpot for Cardigan Castle - Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!

What a brilliant day for Cardigan!

The Welsh Assembly Minister for Heritage, Huw Lewis AM, officially announced in the grounds of Cardigan Castle this morning that the Cardigan Castle project has been successful in drawing down some £4.5m in European Regional Development Funding.

This goes on top of the £4.7m funding that was secured back in March from the Heritage Lottery Fund and which I blogged about here at the time.

Cardigan Castle in 2014? It's going to happen!
This means that over £9m has now been secured for this pivotal project not only for Cardigan and our wider community, but also as I blogged about back in March, for Wales and its heritage as Cardigan Castle was the venue ot the first ever Welsh Eisteddfod back in 1176.

I explained back in my March blog of the importance of the castle culturally to Wales and to the local economy and of my personal association with the castle from my childhood love of history through to my Mayoral year back in 2009/10 when it was my Mayoral Fund for the year. This community support is now the final piece of the jigsaw that will mark the completion of an extraordinary journey.

The Cadgwan Trust has been set the target of raising £150,000 from the local community to show its support and some £20,000 of that has already been raised. This amount is important because the large sums of money that have been offered are on condition that this local fund it met. So out of a mamouth £9.5m or so project that was until only a few years ago a pipedream for those of us who wanted to realise the potential of our castle, we are now just some £130,000 short of the total sum.

The work on sight is now likely to start next year and for a start, those awful stanchions at the front of the castle walls will come down. The antipicated completion date of 2014 is now a realistic expectation.

I really can not overstate how big this news is to Cardigan. The dreams of countless individuals and the wider community are now finally on the verge of being realised. The fact that this is so in the middle of an economic downturn makes it an even more exceptional story.

For those who have visited Cardigan in the past and have driven past this large, closed off and overgrown castle over recent decades, they will know just what an achievement this is. If it wasn't for the castle volunteers, everyone at Cadwgan BPT as well as to the staunch support of Ceredigion County Council and the Welsh Assembly Government, none of this could have been possible. This has shown how collaborative working, can reap dividends.

Griff Rhys Jones visited the castle with the popular Restoration programme back in 2004. Cardigan Castle almost made the final but just missed out on qualifying as the best runner-up.

Now, nearly a decade on, Cardigan Castle will be restored to a new glory! I never thought that I could confidently say those words but here I am, doing just that!

Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!

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