Summer 2021 Season Update
It has been a strange year since March 2020, so much has changed and its hit every corner of the country, and the world. Last year we made the hard decision to cancel the summer season, but looking back it was the right decision at the time. With constant changes in restrictions, the tier system in place, and no way to protect our volunteers and team against the disease we could not have run a safe season.
This year we are aiming to run a season, as there is a lot that needs doing both on and off trench. Obviously our greatest wish is to return to our normal excavation season, to carry on excavating trench 23 and to continue to explore the history of the parish. However this season is also being impacted, by several different factors, and the SHARP committee has decided it is not possible to run a full and normal season which will be explained in more detail below.
One of the biggest factors to this year is that we must move the archive. The Old Village Hall has been the site of our archive for many years, and we are very grateful to the estate that has allowed us to use this building for so long. However the building needs a lot of maintenance work, and the estate would like to renovate it into a more useful state. So we have together with the estates help have decided to move our archive, and while doing this we are aiming to also create a more semi permanent set up on site – with the toilet and shower blocks located on the camp site itself. Yes no going up and down the track to the loo in the middle of the night. But to put all this into place we need to do the groundwork this year, so that by 2022 we will have the facilities ready to go. This requires finances, time and people and may impact on other parts of the season, although we aim to keep the impact to volunteers to a minimum.
In addition to the complexities of the move it is clear that even by the summer Covid will still be present in the general population. The amazing progress of the vaccine rollout, and the current lockdown means that by the summer we hope that the restrictions will have been mostly lifted by the time we come to the season. We will still need to be careful, and will be constantly assessing and following the government guidelines to make the site and excavations as safe as possible. The fact that Sedgeford is primarily outdoors does help, but we are also keen to limit numbers on site to reduce any spread of the virus. Volunteers attending will be strongly encouraged to have a vaccine if offered one, and everyone may be required to have a negative test before they attend (having in the vaccine does not stop you catching or spreading the virus), and we may also co-ordinate testing on site during a week (this will be determined closer to the time and based on government guidelines).
As you can imagine both the move, and the extras we will need to provide protection against Covid means that our finances are stretched far more than usual (extra site cleaning, disinfectant etc). Our recent fundraiser to provide power to the site is a reserved pot of money that will only be used for this aspect of the move. Comparing the bookings this year to previous years we do not have the same numbers of people booked to attend, most likely due to Covid uncertainties. We do hope that bookings may improve as the lockdown eases and that people will look to have UK experiences over the usual summer holidays abroad. However at the moment however we would not be breaking even on a normal season.
We have therefore made a decision to reduce the working season to four weeks (11th July-6th August). Until recently we were looking to only allow bookings from previous volunteers, but with a start up grant from the government we are now able to open up bookings for our BERT course. We are constantly assessing what we can or cannot do, and this is likely to keep adapting as the situation changes.
If you are now thinking ‘how could I help’ there are several things you could do. If you were planning or hoping to come to SHARP this year please make a booking as soon as possible. If you don’t manage to book in time (using the website) please email Brian as we do have reserve lists. These lists will be able to inform us whether there are enough people to warrant expanding facilities, although we will always be bearing in mind Covid. The restrictions in site numbers are predominately for those camping, so if you are local or able to participate as an off-site volunteer again do let us know.
Finally if you cannot or would not feel safe coming on site just yet, we do understand. But if you would still like to help the project this year you could consider joining our Friends of SHARP or donating via the website (there is a link on the bottom right of every page). We understand that these are hard times for everyone, so every donation, no matter how big or small, does help and is really appreciated by SHARP.
I know I speak for the whole team when I say we are looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible this season. And are excited for 2022 when hopefully Covid is behind us and we can run a normal season, and welcome everyone back to Sedgeford again.