It is wonderful news that the county has been awarded a £5 million grant to redevelop the Hereford Museum and Art Gallery by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

This takes the total funding for this brilliant project to £18 million. It will give a huge boost to culture, the arts, heritage and tourism in Herefordshire, in our county towns and across the Marches.

The plans are extremely exciting. This flagship project will restore the Woolhope Room, and give lovely new space to show the county’s existing collections. It will provide a permanent new home for the Herefordshire Hoard, an extraordinary collection of early medieval treasures with immense historical and cultural significance. There will be space for education, for a cafe, and for a spectacular roof terrace, offering panoramic views of the city.

And it will give something I have long sought:  an opportunity to house long term loans from some of the great national collections; a possibility I have discussed over the years with the Directors of the British Museum, the V & A and the National Portrait Gallery.

As always, these funding wins are massive collective efforts. But there were several key factors. One was the evident need for public investment in an iconic listed building in such an important site, directly opposite the Cathedral. Another was the importance of re-siting the existing collections, and adding to them the amazing recently discovered Herefordshire Hoard.

But I can tell you there were two other key factors. One was that despite the difficult financial times Herefordshire Council was able to make an important long term investment itself in the project, recognising that it will lay a further crucial foundation stone in the cultural and economic rebuilding of the county.

Another is that the project bid built on our recent record of success in securing public investment. The Stronger Towns Fund won £22 million only last year on the basis of its vision for Hereford and for the county as a whole. Now the Fund Board has been able to make a foundational investment in this new project.

More widely, our new university project NMITE has created a huge sense of possibility and opportunity, of skills and learning, better jobs and greater enterprise for young people, for businesses, for communities and for culture and the arts.

Vision, quality, long-term investment: now and in the future, these are the keys to our success.