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The Everton Collection

By Steve Williams :  01/01/2009 :  Comments (0) :

I write as a response to the many comments posted regarding Dr David France and ‘The Everton Collection’. Much of what has been written (even some of the more supportive comments) has been unbalanced or worse still, factually incorrect. Hence my desire to bring a bit of focus and balance to the subject.

At the outset let me publicly recognise the terrific work that Dr David France has done over the years bringing together his private Collection.

As a Trustee of The Everton Collection Charitable Trust, I feel it is only right to correct some of the (many) misconceptions that fans have about the Collection. For the avoidance of doubt, the Trust is a registered charity totally independent from Everton Football Club but we must not lose sight of the fact that the Club is central to being an Evertonian. Therefore the ties between the Club, its fans and the Trust must remain strong.

It is true that the Trust purchased the David France Collection from Dr and Mrs France in December 2007 for a substantial sum. Lord Grantchester, Tony Tighe and myself worked long and hard on securing the Collection leading up to, and over Christmas 2007, for the benefit of all Evertonians both now and in the future. Let me be crystal clear; acquisition by the Trust was the ONLY way that the Collection would be kept intact to preserve our wonderful history for the benefit of all Evertonians everywhere.

Everton Football Club, and in particular those much maligned men, Bill Kenwright and Keith Wyness, fully recognised this and could not have been any more supportive. In addition to providing technical and commercial assistance, they readily agreed to GIFT (ie. at no cost to the Trust) Everton's own substantial and highly valuable archive of historical material to the Trust. This was a truly magnanimous gesture and one that deserves (belated) public recognition.

Having put the two Collections together, both ceased to exist independently and instead the super-Collection now known as 'The Everton Collection' was created. Therefore continued references to either the ‘David France Collection’ or the ‘Everton Archives’ are incorrect and misleading. Indeed since December 2007, the Trustees and in particular Lord Grantchester have worked tirelessly to seek out and acquire many wonderful further additions to ‘The Everton Collection’. All of these fantastic items are not owned by any individuals but are instead held on Trust for the ongoing benefit of Evertonians everywhere.

In addition, a contract was agreed with the Liverpool Records Office for the archiving and preservation of ‘The Everton Collection’ for posterity. I’m sure you will understand that through age and neglect some of the items were in very poor condition and without the expertise of David Stoker, Max Dunbar and their colleagues at the LRO, they were in danger of being lost forever. This work is ongoing.

We are delighted with the professionalism shown by the LRO. Furthermore contracts are being negotiated for the digitisation of all aspects of the Collection in order to make the Collection available to all Evertonians via a specially constructed website. The sheer volume of items in the Collection and the painstaking care required to preserve these items means that it is likely to be a couple of years before this process is complete. The formation of the Trust has given Evertonians the confidence that the Club’s heritage is secured and safe for current and future generations.

I fully recognise that many Evertonians are unaware of these mammoth efforts going on behind the scenes (for their benefit) and the Trust’s PR in this respect has not been good enough. I also accept that, because of the void created by the lack of information after the initial acquisitions, a breeding ground for misinformation was created. On behalf of the Trustees, may I apologise for that.

Although it is no excuse, the Trustees have worked tirelessly in a totally voluntary (unpaid) capacity to secure the processes needed to preserve ‘The Everton Collection’ for the great Evertonian family for years to come, perhaps to the detriment of keeping you informed. We have learned our lessons and we will strive to keep you updated better in the future.

In order to fund the development of ‘The Everton Collection’ in terms of:

  • Preservation,
  • Digitisation,
  • Presentation to the public in forums such as Roadshows, displays and the internet, and
  • Securing further strategic additions
the Trustees will need your help and assistance. I’m sure you will understand that maintaining such a legacy for all Evertonians for the future will cost many hundreds of thousands of pounds and your help in fundraising will be priceless. Indeed, the many donations received and the support of Heritage week in 2007 is greatly appreciated.

Be in no doubt that, whilst Dr David France started the process when acquiring his private collection, it is only the work of the Trust that has and will continue to provide Evertonians with tangible evidence of our unrivalled heritage in the years to come.

So, I urge all Evertonians to unite and get behind the Trust with the sole purpose of enabling the Trustees to deliver genuine access for all to the world-class exhibits that we currently have and to those that we shall strive to acquire in the future.

I will endeavour to post updates as the project progresses.

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