UPDATE: 9/11/20 Christopher’s video diary of his progress on Day Four – and making it halfway to the Isles of Scilly.
UPDATE: 21/10/20 Christopher has written an update to all sponsors about his progress, the ferocious tides, and when he will be back in the water, which you can read here.
Our Director’s Sponsored Swim letter, May 2020
I am writing to ask for your support to save the Garden Museum from the impact of the coronavirus: this year we need to raise an additional £370,000 to make up for lost income, to re-open, and to get our programme of exhibitions, events and education work started again.
To help raise this lost income, I am going to swim fifty miles from Newlyn in Cornwall to Tresco, on the Isles of Scilly. It retraces a journey made by the painter-gardener Cedric Morris, one of our Museum’s ‘patron saints’, in 1950, seventy years ago. Cedric went by boat; no one has swum the route before.
Since 2010, I’ve done four swims to help raise funds to build the Museum. And promised not to ask for sponsorship again. And then came the virus.
The Museum is particularly vulnerable because 70% of our income is from visitors, events, café and venue hire. Between March and June we will have lost £270,000.
Our Appeal is to raise funds to replace that income, so that we can re-open to visitors, turn back on the lights, re-assemble our team – currently on Furlough or part-time – and start putting on events, education, and exhibitions again.
Even when closed, as now, it costs £17,000 a month in fixed costs of insurance, environmental systems, and maintenance to keep the historic building and its collection safe and secure. But we have so much to offer Friends, schools, neighbours and visitors. On the horizon we have exhibitions on Derek Jarman, Constance Spry, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s ‘The Secret Garden’, Geoffrey Jellicoe and Lucian Freud. Last year sixty schools came to study plant biology; sixty community groups met; there were 73 food learning events, including a ground-breaking partnership with our local GP surgery offering sessions for patients with Type 2 Diabetes; our Clay 4 Dementia programme won a national award.