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Gloucestershire smallpox museum survives after £34k target met

A museum in the former Gloucestershire home of the smallpox vaccination pioneer Dr Edward Jenner will survive another year after £35,000 was raised.

Dr Jenner’s house in Berkeley is where he carried out pioneering research which eventually led to the eradication of smallpox.

The coronavirus pandemic meant the museum had to close and lost its visitor income as a result, putting its future at risk.

The museum’s manager, Owen Gower, said the target of more than £34,000 to keep it going for another year has now been beaten.

However Mr Gower said Dr Jenner’s House hasn’t been saved from permanent closure as “without significant and sustained investment it will always be just one unexpected repair bill away from disaster”.

He said: “In less than two months you have helped us to reach our target and raised over £35,000 to support the work of The Jenner Trust. In the coming weeks this total will increase as we add to it matchfunding and offline donations.

“This is an amazing achievement and is the result of over 1,000 people from around the world coming together in agreement that this is a time for Jenner. To everyone who has supported us, either financially, through sharing our appeal or even just in your words of encouragement: thank you.

“I want to make it clear, however, that this is not a case of Dr Jenner’s House being ‘saved’. Together we’ve achieved something quite wonderful that will make a huge difference to the museum this year and allow our team the time we need to start rebuilding, but without significant and sustained investment Dr Jenner’s House will always be just one unexpected repair bill away from disaster.

“We continue to pursue other avenues of funding and will still need to lean heavily on government initiatives, such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

“The Jenner Trust operates on a shoestring and with a very small team of staff and volunteers. It is quite likely that for years to come we will be operating in a changed environment, one where physical distance is of vital importance and, quite frankly, one for which a country doctor’s family home is ill-suited.

“Through crowdfunding we have raised enough money to help us to survive another year, however in order to thrive, to truly fulfil the potential that we have as the home of vaccination and to develop our work so that Dr Jenner’s House is as easily accessible to people who are unable to visit in person as it is to those who are, we still need your help.”

Dr Edward Jenner is known as the father of immunology, and he lived in the house in Berkeley between 1785 and 1823.

In 1796, he famously injected eight-year-old James Phipps with cowpox from a cow called Blossom, believing it would protect the boy from catching the deadly smallpox virus.

The discovery saved billions of lives and the disease was successfully eradicated.

To donate, click here.

By Leigh Boobyer, Local Democracy Reporting Service

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