South East (Southern Counties) Regional Day – September 2019

Speakers Angela Conyers (F of Folkestone), Anne Stobo (F of T Wells), & Larraine Hand (F of Guildhall) with BAFM Regional Co-ordinator Mike Evans

A BAFM Regional Day was held on Tuesday 24th September at Maidstone Museum, hosted by Maidstone Museums’ Foundation (MMF). Even though it was one of the wettest days for months 24 delegates struggled through the deluge to attend a really interesting and stimulating day. It was most impressive to see five friends who had travelled all the way from West Sussex, risking the M23 and M25, and another from Ipswich.

The theme of the day was ”The relationship between the Museum and Friends’ Group”, and the morning was taken up by three excellent illustrated presentations submitting their take on this. Anne Stobo, Chair of the Tunbridge Wells Friends, explained how they are working with the Museum (& Library) on their ambitious building project & on details of the restoration of a stunning George III dress.

Angela Conyers, Chair of Folkestone Friends, outlined how the Friends’ Group – formed only 3 years ago – has forged a very healthy relationship with the local Museum. The Museum, emerging like a Pheonix out of the Ashes, has only been running – again – a few years longer than the Friends.

Larraine Hand, Secretary of the Guildhall Friends in Rochester, explained how new her Group is developing its working relationship with the museum people – “a learning curve”. At the conclusion of the presentations there was a very healthy answer and question session with all three.

After lunch Mike Evans, the BAFM local regional co-ordinator, updated delegates on the work undertaken recently to improve BAFM’s website and he endorsed its effectiveness to members. This was followed by an interesting session for Friends to talk about activities in their partnehip. Of note, Tunbridge Wells, Worthing and Maidstone Museums are undertaking significant capital building projects, in which the relative friends groups are participating fully.

The day ended with a presentation by Sam Harris, Maidstone Museum’s Collections Manager, about the local collection of Japanese Fine and Applied Art from the Edo period. This was followed by a guided tour of the gallery itself.

Mike Evans
BAFM Regional Co-ordinator – South East (Southern Counties)