31 Dec 2019
by Cara MacMahon

The 4 meter tall giant grey puppet which is controlled by three men, entertaining families and children in a field, with green trees in the background
A favourite moment: Gnomus the Giant puppet told stories about Weston-super-Mare - so many young people were enthralled. (© Paul Blakemore)

Why we take part

At the heart of the ethos for Heritage Action Zones is the desire to develop people’s understanding and appreciation of their heritage. HODs is a great way to engage volunteers, open up historic buildings and to generate an interest in the history of Weston.

What we do for HODs

I co-ordinate all the groups and venues in Weston-super-Mare to get involved with HODs and I develop the annual Weston HODs brochure. 

  • We work with all the churches to host open days that include volunteers giving talks about the buildings.
  • We also give guided walks around parks and open civic buildings up for people to learn more about local government and the history of the civic buildings.
  • We engage young people through workshops and visits and storytelling.
  • We also have an archaeology strand that provides the opportunity to see archaeological sites and have some taster digs.
Looking from the beach, this looks up towards the stone wall, a arch of stone over an exit, with the town in the background with a large wood behind.
Enter the seafront in style through the iconic Weston Arch designed by John Maine. (© NSC)

The difference it's made

The link with the venues has been really good. Over the years we are building a great active group. We meet, February, April, June and August to plan and October to evaluate. Each year more venues join us and we share good practice. Due to these relationships the venues are much more invested in my wider Heritage Action Zone work, so act as champions for heritage in Weston.

Nice surprise

Venues reported that a number of visitors had travelled to Weston and were staying for one or two nights to enjoy the festival and spend time in Weston.

Cara's top tips!

  • Get your event in early and maximise the marketing pack.
  • Ideally link up with other venues in your area and develop a bespoke brochure - Organise a few meetings to plan, this helps co-ordinate the festival and also each venue gets to know about the others and socialise.
  • ‘Sell’ your HODs as part of the Tourism Offer for your place.
  • Use venues' facebook pages and twitter accounts. Have some ‘fun facts’ to engage people.
  • Have a stall in the local shopping centre the week before to promote your HODS.
  • Take photos on the day… this can be used for evaluation and also for your records and future promotion.
Primary school children with blue uniform jumpers, stood in a circle in a wooden floored room.
Top tip: If you can, have a workshop or two in local schools about the venues/history of the area (© Paul Blakemore)

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