STAFF at the Dean Heritage Centre say they are “so thankful” to the local residents who have chosen to support them through the district council’s Forest Lottery scheme during what has been an “extremely difficult” period for the charity.

The centre in Soudley, which houses historical artefacts and exhibitions that tell the story of the Forest and also hosts regular attractions and events, has suffered financially during the pandemic, with the charity receiving no Government funding and relying on visitors to stay afloat.

With lockdowns and Covid restrictions having significantly reduced the number of visitors in the last two years, the charity has looked to its supporters to help raise funds to keep the centre open.

Having signed up for the Forest Lottery in 2020, residents have so far helped the charity raise more than £1,200 through the scheme.

Cabinet Member for Finance at the Forest Council, Cllr Richard Leppington said: “It’s great to see such a cultural and historic venue such as the Dean Heritage Centre continue to thrive even during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

“It is extremely difficult for tourism attractions such as this to remain open when visitor numbers were greatly reduced and the support from Forest Lottery players helps to ensure that funds can continue to be raised.

“We welcome all local causes who wish to join the Forest Lottery to sign-up and begin fundraising and all who are interested in supporting a cause close to their heart can do so via the Forest Lottery website.”

The centre, which first opened in 1983, houses a museum that allow visitors to delve into the history of the local environment, the Dean’s mining heritage and “the animals and people that call the forest home”.

Local artists regularly showcase their talents at the centre through craft demonstrations and the site is also home to the popular Gruffalo Trail.

Joanne Clarke, Engagement Manager at The Dean Heritage Centre said: “As a charity we receive no Government funding to remain open and rely on visitors coming through the doors and supporting us to stay open.’

“The past couple of years have been extremely difficult for the centre with lockdowns and the lower number of visitors during that time.

“We joined the Forest Lottery in May 2020 and we’re so thankful to the supporters and players who have helped raise funds to keep the Centre open.

“As we now move out of the pandemic we have some great events planned throughout Easter and the Summer holidays and look forward to welcoming everyone to the Dean Heritage Centre to see the best of what the Forest has to offer.”

For more information about the centre, go to

To get involved with the council’s Forest Lottery, visit