“We’re definitely kept very busy,” says Julieann Campbell in her new role as chairperson of the Bloody Sunday Trust.
“The Museum of Free Derry had a fantastic year last year, and we have big plans ahead with our £2 million redevelopment starting in a few weeks,” says Julieann, a niece of Jackie Duddy, who was one of those murdered in the Bogside by British paratroopers on January 30, 1972.
“The rebuild is now our primary focus and it’s been very interesting to watch the whole project come together,” she says.
“The museum has come a long way since the Bloody Sunday Trust first opened it in 2006.
“Before that, it was a derelict housing block and a real eyesore. Now we are an internationally acclaimed museum and I’m very proud to be a part of that progression.”
In the coming weeks, the Bloody Sunday Trust will embark upon the second and final phase of the Museum of Free Derry redevelopment - a capital build project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, NI Tourist Board and the Department for Social Development.
“We’re just about to start packing up the whole museum to move to a new temporary home until the rebuild is complete,” says Julieann.
“With visitor numbers steadily increasing, we badly need more space.
“Now, we’ll have a proper reception area downstairs and a whole new first floor with loads of space.
“Upstairs will house a new archive for our 25,000 plus items and a research area, a classroom space, conference room and a quiet space for visitors.
“We’ve had more than 140,000 visitors through the museum since it opened and school visits continue to increase steadily - so we really need this extension.”
Juliann says the Trust welcomes the reopening of the PSNI investigation into Bloody Sunday.
“It’s unbelievable that this is the first time the police have investigated what happened here on Bloody Sunday,” she says. “We expect the PSNI to leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of evidence.
“We would urge anyone who was present on Bloody Sunday, and feel they saw something of relevance to the murder investigation, to please come forward and co-operate with the police. Their evidence is vital.
“Likewise, we urge the PSNI to pursue this case with vigour and speed.”
The Trust was also involved in the inception of a new island-wide campaign for bereaved families last year, alongside the Pat Finucane Centre and many other organisations.
Julieann explains: “We helped launch the ‘In Their Footsteps’ campaign, which created a ‘sea of shoes’, and it has really snowballed into something special.
“So far, families have taken it to Dublin, Belfast and to Downing Street in London. It’s immensely powerful to see.”
This weekend marks the 43rd anniversary of the Bloody Sunday massacre in the city with the Trust organising commemoration events on behalf of Derry relatives including the annual Minute’s Silence, Mass, and Memorial Service.
Last night also saw award-winning ‘Guardian’ journalist Ian Cobain deliver the annual Bloody Sunday Memorial Lecture.
As the Trust and museum employees prepare to decant the museum in coming weeks, Julieann is undaunted by the challenges of the year ahead.
“We have another year of hard work ahead, but it will be worth it in the long run,” she says.
“Phase II of the Museum of Free Derry will be a real achievement for everyone involved with the Bloody Sunday Trust, a huge boost for the Bogside and a major new landmark for the city.”