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Restoration of a key historical landmark – which will see it fitted out with a museum, art gallery and restaurant – has been given a welcome financial boost.

The Calvin Ayre Foundation (CAF) has donated $2.1 million to works underway since April 2019 to restore the West Wing buildings at Government House.

Governor General Sir Rodney Williams said he was grateful to the charity for helping preserve one of the nation’s architectural symbols.

“This enables us to leave a richer legacy for present and future generations,” he said.

Her Excellency, Lady Sandra Williams, said she was happy to see the project smoothly transitioning to a close.

“The restoration of the West Wing of Government House is a perfect example of how a responsible private sector entity has committed to the preservation of the nation’s culture and history,” she continued.

“This project will ultimately be a remarkable addition to the tourism product inventory, as Government House will offer attractive tours to visitors.

“We are extremely grateful to all who have played their part, and especially to the Calvin Ayre Foundation for their invaluable contribution,” she added.

CAF’s executive director Corinna Delowsky said the works, assisted by skilled labourers from Her Majesty’s Prison, will deliver a boost to the country’s touristic offerings with the addition of the museum, art gallery and eatery.

Delowsky said the project also helped spur economic activity during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 “We were fully committed to getting our local staff and contractors back to work after the lockdown as soon as we were able,” Delowsky added. “It should be a testament to the resilience of Antigua in the face of the recent economic downturn and send a message that we are back in business.”

Local contractor, Vernon Challenger, of Challenger’s Enterprises Ltd, expressed his pride at being able to contribute his company’s expertise, while working on the historic edifice.

“We are extremely proud to be a part of the project for many reasons. Not least amongst them is the opportunity to work on a venerable building and to demonstrate the capacity of our homegrown company,” he said.

“We are also thankful for the example of cooperation in action. This project is the convergence of several disciplines and interests—business, construction, community service and rehabilitation, diplomacy, the economy, goodwill, history, and preservation—working together for the greater good.”

The work is expected to finish in mid-September.

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