The number of visitors in 2019 once again exceeded 30,000 with a total of 30,777 – slightly down on 2018 but still a commendable performance. We continue to score very highly on the Trip Advisor website with 98.5% of the 131 reviews placed in 2019 rating the Museum at either excellent or above the average, and based on those reviews we are currently rated Number 1 of 13 museums to visit in Chichester. We were once again awarded Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence and, following a biennial appraisal by Visit England’s assessor, retained our accreditation as a ‘Quality Assured Visitor Attraction’ with a significantly enhanced rating.
It was once again a busy and productive year. Notable events included a special exhibition in April/May to mark the 50th anniversary of the Daily Mail newspaper sponsored 1969 Transatlantic Air Race, pride of place going to our own Harrier XV744, one of the participants. A second temporary exhibition mounted in August to mark the 75th Anniversary of D-Day proved so popular that its planned 4-week life was extended to the end of October. On Saturday, 4th May, we and our associated scale model club, Tangmere Sector Modellers, held a second annual model show with no fewer than 20 clubs and 4 traders taking part. On Sunday 4 August the Museum held its annual Family Fun Day during which over 750 visitors enjoyed the many attractions and refreshment facilities, including an excellent ten-minute Spitfire display thanks to the generosity of the Boultbee Flight Academy.
During the year, the Museum’s Education Department hosted a record 34 school visits involving 20 different schools and catered for some 940 children/185 adults. A particular initiative by the Department was to introduce a training programme for new Museum volunteers; this has reaped substantial dividends as evidenced by the rapid development of guide/security recruits.
At the beginning of 2019, I invited our Director to establish a small committee tasked to study options and make proposals for development of the Museum with the aim of offering a firm re-development plan for Trust Council approval by year end. Through dint of hard work and diligence by this team, the target was realised and it is anticipated that applications to the Local Planning Authority for the necessary consents will be submitted by early summer.
Finally, I offer my very best wishes to all for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2020.
Group Captain David Baron OBE