THE Willis Museum is alive and well with an army of volunteers supporting the professional staff, ensuring that the day-to-day running of the building continues to a very high standard.

In the main Sainsbury Gallery, of the Top of The Town museum, until March 9 there is the renowned Sunday Times Watercolour Competition, the largest and most prestigious prize for watercolour painting in the UK and this is attracting a record number of visitors.

The Hampshire Cultural Trust is pleased to bring to Basingstoke, for the very first time, 80 works of art chosen by a panel of judges, but this is not all the museum has to offer.

Upstairs in the People’s Gallery on the second floor, there is an exhibition showcasing the work of the Basingstoke Tappers and Jazz Company founded by professional choreographer Tracey Kinchenton in 1992.

It all began as a class for adults in a church hall in Brighton Hill 27 years ago, but within three months there were classes in Chineham, Winklebury, Popley, Norn Hill, the town centre and Tadley and children’s classes were added six months later.

A selection of costumes are now on display in a riot of colour but they would need a space four times the size of the room they are in to display all the costumes; 98 per cent were made over a period of 17 years by the late June Kinchenton.

They have been stored in two garage spaces and two lofts.

The handmade costumes are stored in 14 trunks in a room of their own, what an amazing legacy.

Tracey is keen to thank everyone who looks after these priceless archives.

The same applies to the scenery when grandparents, neighbours and friends are involved in making and storing scenery.

This is a true community project and the exhibition gives an insight into this unique Dance Company.

Mayor of Basingstoke and Deane, Cllr Seán Keating opened the exhibition.

He said: “I am delighted to be here and the exhibition is a tribute to the family and all the volunteers.

“The people involved are talented and committed; a great example of a small organisation doing so much good for the whole town.”

Unlike the Watercolour Exhibition, the Tappers Exhibition is only on display until February 9.

So do not hesitate - climb every hill, every mountain to get there before it closes.

The Basingstoke Tappers next production will be held at the Haymarket on September 14 this year.