£2 million donation for visitors centre at Hillsborough Castle

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Historic Royal Palaces has announced it has received a £2 million donation towards the restoration project at Hillsborough Castle.

Independent charity Historic Royal Palaces is undertaking a major project to transform the visitor experience at Hillsborough Castle, official residence of Her Majesty The Queen in Northern Ireland.

It was announced this week that the Garfield Weston Foundation has donated £2million to the project. This is the largest charitable donation received in support of the project so far.

This donation will help Historic Royal Palaces to open Hillsborough Castle to the public as never before, welcoming 200,000 people every year from 2019.

In particular the donation will fund the building of new visitor facilities and a rich programme of new learning activities for schools and community groups across Northern Ireland.

A new welcome centre building will be named after the Weston family in honour of their generous and significant support.

Announcing the donation, Director of the Garfield Weston Foundation Philippa Charles said: “We are delighted to be supporting Hillsborough Castle and playing a part in the future of this exciting new cultural asset for Northern Ireland.

“The Garfield Weston Foundation has supported projects across the UK for over 50 years and we are pleased to be making so large a contribution to a project in Northern Ireland.

“From local grassroots groups to larger charities with national reach, all the organisations we support make a positive impact on communities and strive to achieve excellence.

“Historic Royal Palaces and its ambitions for Hillsborough Castle are no exception and everyone at the Foundation is excited by the project’s potential to benefit communities in Northern Ireland – socially, culturally and economically.”

Michael Day, Chief Executive of Historic Royal Palaces, said: “The scale of this donation reflects both the huge generosity of the Weston family and the sense that our project at Hillsborough Castle is a unique opportunity to create something very special for the whole Northern Ireland community and its visitors – a place to tell important stories, to enjoy beautiful buildings and gardens, and to learn.

“The Foundation has been very generous to Historic Royal Palaces in the past, but this donation is on a different level.

“I am thrilled that this project has inspired such incredible support.”

Hillsborough Castle is open for guided tours every weekend in April, May, June and September including Bank Holidays and open daily from July 2 to September 4. Booking is advisable (telephone 0844 482 7777). Group visits are available throughout the year (telephone 028 9268 1376).

The gardens at Hillsborough Castle are open all year round.