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Paper's Twitter drive helps save priceless collection

A regional daily has been credited with helping to save a world-famous historical brand in its region.

The Sentinel in Stoke launched a unique social media campaign as part of a push to preserve the 250-year-old Wedgwood Collection and keep it in North Staffordshire.

Augmented by the newspaper’s Twitter drive, the target was secured weeks ahead of a November 30 deadline following a public appeal by the Art Fund which originally secured £13million towards the asking price.

Now the appeal organisers are celebrating an incredible success after raising a further £2.74m in just 31 days from individuals, businesses and charitable trusts to ensure the precious archive stays at the Wedgwood Museum in Barlaston.

Keeping the collection in Sentinel country

Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said: “This amazing show of public support for the collection has made this the fastest fund-raising campaign in the Art Fund’s 111-year history.

“It demonstrates nothing less than a national passion for Wedgwood – its history, its quality, its brand, its continuity.”

The Stoke paper played its part in the historic fundraising exercise – initiating a social media campaign on Twitter which encouraged its readers to tweet, posing with their own favourite pieces of Wedgwood, using the hashtag #savewedgwoodcollection while nominating three friends.

A spokeswoman at the Wedgwood Museum thanked “our friends at the Stoke Sentinel for taking the campaign up a notch.”

The bet365 Foundation – with £250,000 – and a £100,000 gift from Staffordshire County Council were among a number of high-profile donors, including JCB and the Wedgwood family, which helped see the campaign over the line.

In total, around 7,500 members of the public– 259 people a day – donated to the campaign giving an average £77.82.

The campaign rose to the challenge of protecting the collection from an auction after the High Court ruled the Wedgwood Museum, in Barlaston, had to sell off its assets to pay a £134 million pensioner bill.

Now the Art Fund will to be able to buy the 80,000-piece collection of ceramics, family portraits, pattern books and manuscripts and gift it to the Victoria & Albert, the world’s leading museum of art and design.