COGGES Manor Farm is set to open for the summer after a turbulent year but is in need of volunteers.

The trust that recently took over the museum is searching for people with a variety of skills to give up their time and help out.

The unemployed, students or those out for a new challenge are being given the opportunity.

It is looking for gardeners, guides, poultry keepers, administrators and many other roles before the July reopening.

People wanting to take part can visit the museum in Church Lane, Witney, for a recruitment day, today between 10.30am and 3pm.

Cogges Heritage Trust member Mark Crosby said: “We want Cogges to be a place where people can get involved and bring their skills and share in the vision.

“We want people to get a sense that it is their place, and that is really important.”

He said it was also an opportunity for people to learn new skills, including gardening, animal keeping and running a visitors’ attraction.

Mr Crosby added: “It is a massive opportunity for the unemployed, students or people looking to get a different experience.”

He said the trust was also looking for people with business experience, who could mentor and advise other volunteers.

And the trust may also look at placement schemes to get school children involved.

But, for the museum itself, Mr Crosby said it was important the trust found volunteers because it had very little money and no income.

He said: “The county council ran it with mostly paid staff and a few volunteers. We want to look at a very different model.

“It is really important that we start with involving the community and a financial model that works.

“To open a site like this requires lots and lots of people to be involve.”

Witney MP David Cameron visited the farm museum in January to meet the trustees and learn about the new plans, which he described as “enterprising”.

Oxfordshire County Council, which previously ran the museum, handed it to the trust in March.

It was costing the council £240,000 a year and, despite attracting 30,000 visitors a year, closed in August 2009.

The trust hopes to open the museum in mid July, Mr Crosby said.

To help with this, the county council and West Oxfordshire District Council handed over £105,000 in March for building works.

County Hall will also pledged to give £320,000 over two years to help with running costs.

  • For more information, visit