Unlike all towns and many villages in the Isle of Man, Rushen, with a population of 7,000 people, has never had a Heritage Trust.
Rushen Heritage Trust was co-founded by Hugh and Sandra Davidson in response to a request for ideas from the newly elected Port Erin Commissioners. They formed a Steering Group together with Steve George of the Port Erin Traders Association and three local MHKs; Hon Phil Gawne, Hon Laurence Skelly and Hon Juan Watterson.
From mid-2013 to mid-2014, members of the Steering Group led many consultations with the trading associations of Port Erin and Port St Mary, the Rushen Rotary Club, Manx National Heritage, Culture Vannin and experts such as JW Qualtrough, JK Qualtrough, Nigel Crowe, Mike Kewley and Edmund Southworth. In addition, most local heritage groups and a number of similar organisations in UK seaside towns were visited and analysed.
A public meeting was convened on 3rd April 2014 at Port St Mary Town Hall and despite the wet and windy night, 120 people attended. Members of the Steering Group made presentations, encouraged comments, answered questions and made suggestions. The public response was favourable and on 9th July 2014, a work session of around 60 volunteers developed ways to take the trust forward and agreed the topics that would be focused on initially. Rushen Heritage Trust was officially launched on 25th July 2014 at Port St Mary Town Hall. It is registered as Manx Charity No 1166.
“Rushen” includes Port St Mary, Port Erin, Cregneash, the Calf of Man and part of Colby, as well as surrounding villages.
Based upon pro-bono advice from advocate John Rimmer, the Trust was legally established as a non-profit company limited by guarantee. The Steering Group became the Board and Juan Watterson was elected as Chair. George Noble FCA joined the Board later as Treasurer and Alan Jackson was appointed a Director in August 2015.
The Board felt it important to have a paid Heritage Manager and Graham Hall was appointed on a twelve month contract from a strong field of applicants on 1st June 2014. He did an outstanding job in starting up the Trust. Hugh Davidson became interim Heritage Manager until 17th August 2015, when Laura King was appointed as Heritage Coordinator, again from a very strong shortlist.
A significant donation by private funders covered the Trust’s main costs for the first year and RHT has also recently received grants from Culture Vannin, Isle of Man Arts Council, the Manx Lottery Trust, the Donny Collister Trust, the Elizabeth Clucas Trust and the Gough Ritchie Trust.
Your support and contributions will enable us to continue telling the stories and sharing the memories of the community of Rushen Sheading, keeping our local heritage alive for future generations.