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Relaunch bid for abbey trust
12:34pm Tuesday 12th February 2013 in Local
THE future of a trust established to protect Halesowen’s ancient abbey ruins hangs in the balance, following its sale to a private buyer.
The scheduled monument, which dates from the 13th century, stands in the grounds of the £1.5 million Manor Abbey farmhouse, which has been sold subject to contract, ahead of the trust’s own bid to secure funding in order to buy the site.
Hales Owen Abbey Trust secretary Mick Freer said: “With the failure to buy the abbey, and other disappointments, we now stand on the threshold of deciding whether we wish to continue or call it a day.”
He wants to see the trust carry on, but believes it needs a relaunch with new blood and public support to “invigorate our activities and benefits.”
Mr Freer has issued a rallying call to members, former members and potential new members to the trust’s annual meeting at The Earls High School on Monday March 25 at 7pm.
He is keen for the trust to work with the new abbey owners, who want public opening and vast improvements to visitor facilities, and to work with English Heritage which has awarded a contract for a conservation plan for the abbey and surroundings to a contractor.
Mr Freer also wants to see major fundraising to amass at least £500,000 to spend on future land and property purchases for public benefit.
Other schemes include the restoration of Lapal Canal through Leasowes which he said would make a “fascinating linear pond, bringing scenic, historic and habitat improvement to the Leasowes.”
It is hoped the trust will resume practical conservation work and restore the ancient footpath network around the abbey, produce books, leaflets and an interactive website.
Mr Freer added: “The opportunities are endless, but we need to get through the hurdle of the agm to show that our charitable trust has a place in our society and objectives to pursue.
“We need people who would like to serve on the committee with enthusiasm. The rewards to such individuals would be immense.”