Oswestry & beyond, Shropshire
Mark Hignett from Oswestry Town Museum has been championing his local area through Heritage Open Days since 2011. Opening a local museum in the process and becoming an integral part of our first national Unsung Stories art commission.
Why I take part
I love the team spirit that comes with multiple heritage venues all working together to provide a ‘special’ event. I also enjoy working with partners and the way that heritage organisations and venues can all work to the same end. It’s a brilliant way to explore our local heritage and make it available to residents and tourists to enjoy as well. I love starting to plan events for the following year, discovering and researching new people and places and watching as it all comes together each September.
What I do for HODs
I co-organise the local festival, (this means starting in October to prepare for the following year). I oversee the events at four of our venues, collate and help produce our booklet, and draw up the minibus tours and talks programme. I also organise
our booklet distribution and arrange for volunteers to cover our core events. I've been a member of the national advisory board and help promote HODs whenever and however I can.
The difference it makes
Taking part in HODs has made a massive difference to myself, the events and venues that I work with, the way I interact with visitors and the way I think about researching heritage in our local area. I have worked with a fantastic team on the advisory board in London, learned many new things and pinched more than a few ideas. The reaction and feedback I receive about our weekends makes me think about how we can continue with HODs themes and events after the weekend and throughout the ensuing year.
My favourite moment
Highlight of the past 7 years just has to be the Gilbert and Gordon project from last year, the way the whole community got involved (and are still involved) but really there are so many great moments from across the years that picking just one is impossible, every event, every programme, every year is so different from any other and each one is filled with ‘special’ moments, treasured memories and exciting people and places.
What surprised me
The sheer amount of local heritage and history just waiting to be discovered. It is truly awe-inspiring. I didn’t expect when I first got involved that a few years down the road I would be negotiating with an American film producer to tell the story of part of the heritage we uncovered.
My top tip
DO IT, take part, join in, talk to others, explore heritage around you and share it with one and all. Contact the national team for advice, talk to other people who have taken part and don’t be afraid to ‘pinch’ ideas. After all imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!