THE government has been urged to make Portsmouth’s dream of becoming a national centre of excellence about D-Day a reality.
City leaders revealed plans last year to turn the D-Day Museum in Southsea into the UK’s leading resource on the Normandy landings, which took place during the Second World War.
In order to do the whole project, we need this funding to go alongside the funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It’s so important to us that we get it.Andrew Whitmarsh, D-Day Museum development officer
The plan is to give the seafront building a major upgrade, modernise all of its exhibitions and bring resources, such as an 83m Overlord Embroidery, into the 21st century by making them available online for a wider audience.
The cost of the project, which the city hopes to complete ahead of the 75th anniversary of D-Day in 2019, is £4.88m – but culture bosses still need to find around £600,000.
Tory council leader Donna Jones has made a plea to chancellor George Osborne to stump up the outstanding balance by dipping into the Libor fund – bankers’ fines set aside for causes including military charities.
Mr Osborne replied by saying he would give the proposal ‘full consideration’ in the upcoming Autumn Statement. Now he is being urged to act on his word.
Andrew Whitmarsh, D-Day Museum development officer, said: ‘The story of D-Day is still important to people today.
‘D-Day has effects that are still felt today. The world would be different if it had gone differently.
‘In order to do the whole project, we need this funding to go alongside the funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It’s so important to us that we get it.’
In her letter to Mr Osborne, Cllr Jones said: ‘The aim of the Transforming D-Day project is to bring the story of D-Day to life for future generations: a story of courage and determination, comradeship and sacrifice, secrecy and deception, innovation and tactics.
‘In doing so, we want to establish the museum as the national centre for remembering D-Day – inspiring a greater understanding of what happened before, during and after the landings, and exploring why D-Day is still relevant.’
The Heritage Lottery Fund has pledged £3.8m, subject to the council submitting final project proposals.
The council is contributing £350,000, another £50,000 has come from the organisers of Victorious Festival and £16,000 has come from other donations.
As part of the project, a new activities programme would be drawn up as well as a new website forming the ‘hub’ of a national D-Day network.
The museum is the only one in the country solely focused on the D-Day landings.