‘Open Sesame’ thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery

Heritage Open Days

Heritage Open Days is England’s biggest heritage festival, with thousands of free local events to enjoy.









A guest blog from Emily Knight of Heritage Open Days

Ever wondered what’s hiding behind that closed door? Fancy exploring that secret garden or delving into the history of that historic building? Thanks to Heritage Open Days you can! We are delighted that players of People’s Postcode Lottery are supporting England’s biggest heritage festival this year, ensuring that we can continue to open up the history on your doorstep.

So who are we? Since 1994 Heritage Open Days has been organising free heritage events across four days in September in order that you might have the opportunity to explore your local heritage. We’re part of the wider European Heritage Days, which sees events throughout a number of European countries including Northern Ireland, France and Sweden. The best part? It’s all free! The programme is managed by the National Trust. But working with thousands of local heritage venues and organisers, Heritage Open Days is very much a grassroots event and offers the chance to uncover places you’ve always wanted to discover.

Want to get involved? This year Heritage Open Days will be taking place from 10th to 13th September, with thousands of local events for you to enjoy. From medieval manor houses and labyrinthine libraries, to 20th century theatres and fascinating museums, the choice is endless. Just take a look at our online directory from mid-July where we will be adding unique and memorable events on a daily basis. Or perhaps you know of a fantastic heritage venue you’d like to share with others. Why not join the thousands of organisers and register an event for September? It could be anything from a railway waiting room or local church to a heritage walk or park.

But to give you a taste… This year you can take a rare tour of the cellars of Allan Bank, once home to William Wordsworth, or meet archaeologists at Westgate Excavations, the largest ever archaeological excavation in Oxford. If that doesn’t take your fancy you can discover the secret garden that lies behind the Judges’ Lodging Museum in Lancaster, normally closed to the public, or try your hand at calligraphy at the Tudor Fayre and Charter Day at the Buckinghamshire County Museum. There’ll be plenty of family friendly activities too; the kids will love dressing up as Victorians at Clayton Hall Living History Museum! So whether you live in M16, Old Trafford, or CV37, Shakespeare’s birthplace, there’s something for you.

Why does it matter so much? Heritage Open Days is based on the principle that heritage should be accessible to all and for all to enjoy and reap its benefits. Heritage allows us to get out in the fresh air (and sun if it puts its hat on!) and in turn boost our immune system, bust stress and increase energy levels. The benefits don’t end there. Our evaluation clearly shows the effects of engaging with our local heritage. For example, 89% of visitors last year felt inspired to find out more about their local area following their visit whilst 72% of volunteers felt more connected to their local community as a result of volunteering over the festival. Heritage, it would seem, is smiles all round. Plus, thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery more people will be able to reap these benefits. Last year 40% of visitors had not visited a heritage site in the last year showing how this programme is able to really reach out to new audiences.

As a result of your generous support Heritage Open Days will be bigger and better than ever in 2015! Why not join millions of other curious individuals and explore the rich heritage your local area has to offer? Your heritage is out there for you to uncover and enjoy!

What will you discover?


Dame Kelly Holmes Trust to “Get On Track” in Scotland


This is a guest blog post from the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust.

The Dame Kelly Holmes Trust has announced the Get On Track programme will start in May

The Dame Kelly Holmes Trust has announced the Get On Track programme will start in May

At the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, we were absolutely thrilled to be awarded £200,000 from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery last year. With the money, we pledged to start our very first Get On Track programme in Scotland, a really crucial step.

Get On Track works with 16 to 25-year-olds who are not in employment, education or training and is led by world class athletes, who mentor the young people in order to improve their confidence, and skills to make them more employable. The programme, which will be run in Edinburgh by Commonwealth gold medalist judoka Sarah Clark, will be starting in the coming months.

Nationally, we’re really proud that we’ve made an impact on more than 170,000 young people across the UK, with the support of our fantastic team of athletes.

We recently got back in touch with 24-year-old James, who went on our Get On Track programme in Plymouth last year. James had been unemployed for over four years, and told us how he had lost all hope of ever finding a job. After going on our programme and being mentored by Paralympic swimmer David Hill, things started to change. His newfound confidence spurred him on to start volunteering, and at one point he was doing 50 hours a week of voluntary work. He then secured four different part time jobs. But it was his mentor who inspired him to keep trying, until he finally secured a full time job at a highways company, with career prospects. James was so excited and called David Hill, his athlete mentor, straightaway when he found out. “I feel like a new person,” he said.

James’ story is one of many, but with around a million young people in the UK still our of work, training and employment, our work goes on. And it’s partners like the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery that enable us to keep making real and lasting change to the young people we work with.

Watch James’ Story on YouTube

Are our pets losing the battle of the bulge?


This is a guest post from PDSA by Amy Henson, PDSA Community and Education Veterinary Nurse. To date, players like you have raised £625,000 for this fantastic organisation.

PDSA Vet Nurse Amy Henson

PDSA Vet Nurse Amy Henson

Just like people, pets need the right diet and enough exercise to stay fit and healthy. But as many of us know, it’s easier said than done!

Every year, we produce our PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report to find out how healthy and happy the nation’s pets really are. Our latest Report shows that many people are still feeding their pets food that isn’t good for them. Over 5.5 million pets get treats as part of their daily diet including crisps, cake, cheese, leftovers of human food, chips and takeaways.

We all know it’s not easy to ignore those big eyes, longing for a share of your dinner. But being overweight can cause a whole host of health problems, including heart, liver and joint problems, breathing difficulties and diabetes. So why risk it? Pets put on weight simply by eating more food than they need and not getting enough exercise. Luckily, in most cases, the answer is simple, too: it just takes time, and a bit of effort, to get them back in shape.

If you’re worried about your pet’s weight, take a trip to the vets: they’ll be happy to advise you about any diet clinics that could help. They’ll also show you how to keep an eye on your pet’s shape. It sounds simple, but as we see our pets every day, it’s easy to miss those excess inches creeping on over time. There’s a real misconception about what a healthy shape is and increasingly a ‘tubby’ pet is viewed as normal.

For more information, check out our pet health pages and help your pets live life to the full.