I am pleased to report that with a total of 33, 079 the number of visitors to the Museum in 2018 represented not only a 4.3% increase over the previous year but exceeded the all-time record of 32,958 set in 2010. The Trip Advisor website continues to rate the Museum highly – 96% of the now 728 reviews posted on the Trip Advisor website rate the Museum at either excellent or above the average, and we currently occupy the number one slot of 42 attractions in the category of ‘Things to do in Chichester’. We were once again awarded Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence and retained our Visit England accreditation as a ‘Quality Assured Visitor Attraction’ for the third year in succession.
It was a very busy and productive year overall. Notable events included a special exhibition in April to mark both the 100th Anniversary of the formation of the RAF and the existence of an airfield at Tangmere, whilst a second exhibition mounted from mid-July featured the Special Operations Executive with a particular focus on the Lysander ‘pick-up’ pilots of No 161 Special Duties Squadron operating from RAF Tangmere during the Second World War. This latter event afforded a most appropriate occasion to introduce our new exhibit – a full-size Lysander replica.
On Saturday, 5 May the Museum organised a highly successful scale model aircraft show in concert with our local model club, Tangmere Sector Modellers, which attracted over 550 visitors to view a wide variety of models displayed by a variety of clubs and traders. Unfortunately, our annual Families Day held on 26 August was marred by appalling weather yet we still managed circa 700 visitors which we considered highly commendable in the circumstances.
The Education Department hosted a further 30 school visits during 2018 and has now welcomed no fewer than 40 different schools to its programme over the past 2 years.
For several months during the year, a small team was employed in assembling a bid for a financial grant from LEADER – a European fund for rural development – to contribute towards the cost of a project to procure visitor audio guides and extend the Museum car park. The resolute application of this team culminated in a substantial award and the project was duly completed shortly before the end of the season – a splendid end to the year.
Finally, I offer my very best wishes to all for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2019.
Group Captain David Baron OBE