Lowestoft Maritime Museum’s bid to move forward for next generation
- Credit: Nick Butcher
It is a tribute to Lowestoft's shipping heritage - yet the new president of the town's Maritime Museum has pledged to 'see the museum move forward for the next generation'.
However Paul Kirby said that while he is keen to help what he described as a 'hidden gem' continue to modernise and become more relevant in a digital age, he is also acutely aware of the 'big shoes' he is filling.
The 56-year-old, who is also managing director of Small and Co Marine Engineering Ltd in Commercial Road, Lowestoft - one of the town's largest remaining marine engineering firms - was approached for the role because the museum's committee thought he 'fitted the job'.
Secretary Roy Hammond explained: 'We primarily wanted someone who knows all about this and is still involved in the industry.'
Yet he takes over as president from the late Peter Parker, who dedicated his life to the museum and helped secure crucial Lottery funding which allowed it to create the modern facilities seen today.
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'It's quite an honour that these people want someone like me to take over,' said Mr Kirby, who was born and bred in Lowestoft and served an apprenticeship as a marine engineer on leaving school and worked at places like Richards, before establishing his own company in the 1980s.
The museum, based in Sparrow's Nest Gardens, opened for its new 2015 season recently, with a new shop front area to welcome visitors and several new attractions - including a computer which allows people to track ships sailing off the Lowestoft coastline.
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The museum is also going through the huge process of putting its massive collection online - and is looking to renew its museum accreditation so it is in a strong position to apply for funding grants in the future.
However, with thousands of pounds of recent investment, it is not looking at any major expansions any time soon. Mr Kirby said: 'For me personally, I'd like to see the museum move forward for the next generation.
'From what I have gathered, everyone who comes here says what a lovely place it is.
'If I can be the person to maintain or enhance the museum by encouraging more people to come down, that's a fairly big challenge.'
However he stressed that volunteers are the lifeblood of the museum and that it would be impossible to do the job without them.
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