Historic England Angel Awards shortlist announced

August 24, 2016


A group of young “Heritage Hunters”, encouraging their community to celebrate local heritage, a 13 year old budding archaeologist, a church adapted into a wellbeing venue for a mental health charity and ex-soldiers recovering from armed conflicts through archaeology – these are among 20 heritage groups and projects chosen to go forward to the finals of the Historic England Angel Awards in London on Monday 31st October 2016.
Founded by Andrew Lloyd Webber and supported by his Foundation, the Historic England Angel Awards celebrate the efforts of individuals and local groups all over the country who put hours of hard work and enthusiasm into saving derelict or damaged historic landmarks and bringing them back to life.
This year we have expanded the award categories to recognise the inspiratonal young people who are helping to protect, save and share their local historic places. Other new categories celebrate the Best Community Action Project, the Best Research Project, the Best Rescue of a Heritage Site and lastly the Outstanding Contribution to Heritage award will go to an individual or group who has worked tirelessly to save and share a part of our heritage.
Andrew Lloyd Webber said: “The Angel Awards celebrate once again the unsung heroes of heritage. I am passionate that our heritage is protected , valued and enjoyed by all. I am particularly thrilled that this year we recognise the increasing role of young people in preserving our heritage. In a year when Westminster has been put on the World Heritage register as a site at risk, it is exciting that this year's shortlist proves  that people of all ages are dedicated to preserving our heritage and doing so in ever more inventive ways.”

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said: “This year’s shortlist shows that heritage angels come in many guises and all are dedicated to saving and sharing our spectacular historic environment. The impressive young people among those we are celebrating this year show that our historic places speak to all generations and that anyone can get involved in protecting and championing our heritage.”
Groups from all the shortlisted entries have been invited to attend the Historic England Angels Awards ceremony at the Palace Theatre in London’s West End which the judges, George Clarke, Emma Bridgewater, historian Bettany Hughes and the Dean of Westminster, John Hall will attend.
Vote for your favourite
Historic England is inviting members of the public to vote for their favourite entry www.historicengland.org.uk/angelawards.
Aon Estates Practice are sponsoring the Outstanding Contribution to Heritage award and The National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS) are sponsoring Best Community Action Project award
The Telegraph is media partner for the awards and the awards are co-funded by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation. www.andrewlloydwebberfoundation.com
Best Contribution by a Young Person:
William Fakes, Leeds, West Yorkshire: William is an amazing 13 year old pupil at Royds School in Leeds who has helped found the Leeds branch of the Young Archaeologists’ Club. He is a passionate and enthusiastic member of the group who goes out of his way to encourage and support newer members of the Club, helping them learn about the subject he has become so excited about. Through his love of archaeology, William has gained the confidence to overcome bullying at school and in the club has found a place where he belongs.
Josh Aitken-Dunkeld, Isle of Wight, South East: Josh first joined the Friends of Frank James- a group dedicated to saving a derelict Grade II listed hospital- when he was just 16 years old. He quickly became a key member of the group, taking responsibility for digital championing of the site. He led the way in highlighting the plight of the building to the public and telling the sad story of Frank James by setting up the website, creating beautiful YouTube videos and running its social media presence. Without these vital communication channels the group would not have been able to gain support locally or reach out to grant giving bodies.
Heritage Hunters, Auckland Castle, North East: The Heritage Hunters are a 12-strong group of young people from County Durham, aged 9 to 25, from a variety of backgrounds and learning abilities, who aimed to find ways of encouraging other young people and families to visit Auckland Castle, hear its stories and see it as an asset to their community. They all knew of Auckland Castle but most had never ventured inside before they joined the Heritage Hunters. Several of the group have disabilities so felt confident in advising on accessibility and inclusion, whilst developing ideas for how to make the castle accessible and exciting for all. They are funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Auckland Castle Trust was so impressed by the scheme that it has decided to continue supporting them.
Fishponds Church of England Academy, Bristol, South West: Year 6 of this school are a proud part of Historic England’s Heritage Schools programme and the first school group to successfully get their local war memorial listed. The children worked with a local war historian to better understand the story of their area at the time of the First World War. They learned the value in protecting communities’ war memorials and attended the remembrance service on November 11th. Members of the Staple Hill Royal British Legion told the children how much they appreciated young people from the local community taking an interest in their contribution to the war and the memorial.
Best Community Action Project, sponsored by The National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS):
Operation Nightingale, Netheravon Barrows, Spitfire P9503 Crash, Wiltshire, South West: From 2011 Operation Nightingale has helped Service Personnel who have fought for the British Armed Forces recover using archaeology. The project has worked on archaeological sites across Britain and overseas. Three of the soldiers involved have now gone on to work as professional archaeologists, one has achieved a First Class honours degree in archaeology from Exeter University, and many have declared a lifelong love of archaeology as a result.
Clevedon Pier and Heritage Trust Ltd, Somerset, South West: The Trust was formed to bring the Grade I listed Clevedon Pier back to life, following its collapse and near demolition in the 1970s. Over the decades the Trust has raised funds to bring, according to John Betjeman, “the most beautiful pier in England” back into use. In May this year, a new visitor centre was opened marking the end of the restoration. The Trust knew the local community was central to their efforts and organised a community share offer. More than 1,100 shareholders signed up, raising over £250,000.
Richard Jefferies Museum Trust, Swindon, South West: The Richard Jefferies Museum Trust was set up by local people to rescue a small, under-resourced museum from the threat of being sold to developers. The museum is brimming with history and tells the story of Victorian writer Richard Jefferies who, in his short life, explored his passion for nature through different literary genres. He has been called “the first and truest nature conservationist”. The Trust are all volunteers who wanted to prevent any more of their town's heritage from disappearing. In July this year Swindon Borough Council transferred full charge of the site over to the community. They now run the museum as a ‘cultural hub’ and it attracts ten times as many visitors from all walks of life.
West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust, Former Lye and Wollescote Cemetery Chapel, Stourbridge, West Midlands: West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust (WMHBT) is a volunteer-led building preservation trust with a history of rescuing and re-purposing historic buildings that have fallen into dereliction. The Trust brought the vandalised and neglected Grade II listed former cemetery chapel in Stourbridge back to life over a period of 13 years. Local school children helped make new stained glass windows, education resources for schools have been set up and work experience for construction students was carried out throughout the restoration process. Echoing the spirit of community action that saved the building, a public competition was held for the first wedding at this new venue. Thanks to donations from local wedding suppliers, the first couple won a free wedding package worth over £6,000.
Best Rescue of a Heritage Site:
Julie and Howard Duckworth, Goole, East Riding of Yorkshire: Since 1983 husband-and-wife team Julie and Howard Duckworth have been bringing empty properties back into use. They have invested over £4.5 million into the regeneration of Goole, particularly on Aire Street, which was the heart of the historic Aire and Calder Company Town. Their first restoration in Goole, of the Station Hotel, created 38 jobs and 12 affordable, environmentally friendly apartments. They are now beginning to turn around the fortunes of the Goole Conservation Area, currently on Historic England’s At Risk Register.
The Arkwright Society, Building 17, Cromford Mills, Derbyshire: Cromford Mills was purchased by the Arkwright Society, a Building Preservation Trust, in 1979. The site is Grade I listed and has become a key attraction of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site - the only one in the East Midlands. By 2008 the site and the Society were facing significant problems: they were in £1.2million of debt while 50% of the site still remained derelict and on Historic England’s At Risk Register. Thankfully, new management saved the site from foreclosure and fought to bring the disused building back into economic use. Now several workspace office units have been developed and managed by Cromford Creative. The site also enjoys far more visitors and 100 volunteers carry out over £250,000 of voluntary activity every year.
Suffolk Mind and the Churches Conservation Trust for the rescue of St Mary at the Quay, Ipswich, Suffolk, East of England: This church was rescued and transformed through a partnership between the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) and mental health charity Suffolk Mind. Suffolk Mind knew the CCT were looking for ways to regenerate St Mary at the Quay and saw the building as the answer to its plans for a wellbeing venue- now known as Quay Place. The project has delivered a beautifully repaired and adapted historic church with a modern extension for therapy services. The church was used as a living classroom during construction, providing work experience to local construction students who had the rare chance to work with historic fabric. Through a diverse programme of learning and artistic activities, the community has also created an interactive interpretation which explores the maritime history of Ipswich and the stories of people who once lived there.
Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council for the rescue of Ashton Old Baths, Greater Manchester, North West: This project has been led by Tameside Council working in partnership with PlaceFirst Ltd. The aims were to create a Business innovation Centre in a timber pod structure within the restored Grade II* listed Ashton Old Baths (targeting at Creative, Digital and Media businesses) and to get the building off the Heritage at Risk Register by conserving and restoring the building.
Outstanding Contribution, sponsored by Aon Estates Practice:
Alan and Griselda Garner, Toad Hall and the Old Medicine House, Cheshire, North West: In 1957 Alan Garner bought the dilapidated, late-medieval timber-framed Toad Hall and since then the couple have worked tirelessly to save it from complete dereliction and the nearby Old Medicine House from demolition. They have also researched, with others, 10,000 years of the area’s history and shared the stories with the community, especially with young people who have been inspired to get involved in the investigation. The couple acknowledge and celebrate the lives of the area’s previous inhabitants, urging people to see the place as a valuable resource, steeped in history and accessible to all.
Carlo Diponio - Construction Supervisor at Dudley Zoo, Tecton Buildings at Dudley Zoo, the Black Country, West Midlands: Carlo is the construction supervisor at Dudley Zoo who has made a huge contribution to the restoration of the Tecton Buildings at Dudley Zoological Gardens. The Tectons were designed by Russian born architect Berthold Lubetkin and Dudley Zoo boasts the world's largest single collection of Tecton buildings. All 12 of them are listed and in 2009 the buildings were granted 'World Monuments Fund' status, giving it the same status as Machu Picchu and the Taj Mahal. In 2014 Heritage Lottery Funding was granted to refurbish these amazing structures. Carlo is the Zoo's expert in the field of concrete and knows the best techniques for restoring these buildings which were instrumental in bringing modernist architecture to the UK.
Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain, Head Gardeners, West Dean Gardens, Chichester, South East: Many years ago, husband and wife team, professional gardeners Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain began restoring the 19th century landscape of West Dean Gardens and it has become their life’s work. The pair has restored the derelict gardens back to their original glory by working within the historic framework but adding their own contemporary contributions and ensuring the 240 acre gardens could be easily maintained with limited resources. The gardens today are internationally respected for both the quality and variety of horticultural practice and historic features, attracting around 60,000 visitors annually from all over the world. While open, a programme of public events is held annually, including an open air community theatre and an award-winning Chilli Fiesta, founded by Jim and Sarah in 1995, which now attracts 25,000 visitors.
David Lovell, Britain from Above and Enriching the List, across England: David has made around 65,500 contributions to the Britain from Above website, identifying a huge archive of aerial images from the 1920s onwards, including 300 images from 600 unlocated photographs. He has also worked closely with Historic England on its new initiative “Enriching the List”, where the public can add their own knowledge to information on listed places. David has contributed over 1500 images to this recent project, and has a library of 20,000 catalogued images which he hopes to share in due course.
Best Research Project:
Star Carr Research Group, Star Carr Early Mesolithic Site, near Scarborough, North Yorkshire: Star Carr has been an internationally significant site since its first discovery in the late 1930s. The recent excavations by the Star Carr Archaeology Group have saved its rapidly decaying archaeological evidence and completely changed the picture of how we understand this little known part of early British prehistory. The Project team has collaborated with partners across Britain and Europe, focussing on how people have adapted to and lived with climate change - something we consider a very modern problem. The group have shared their work through academic and popular publications, several public events across North Yorkshire, school interpretation days and open days. The results of the archaeological work are also being used to create a physical interpretation of the Early Mesolithic period.
Pride of Place: England's LGBTQ Heritage, across England: This project records and celebrates lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) history and heritage across England. The Pride of Place team from Leeds Beckett University has worked closely with Historic England and LGBTQ community partners across England to ensure that LGBTQ heritage is recognised and celebrated by all communities. An online, crowd-sourced map of LGBTQ locations across England has been created as part of this project. It has gathered over 1600 entries, showing that LGBTQ heritage is everywhere in England and from all time periods.
Fylde Decorative and Fine Arts Society, Lytham St Annes Town Art Collection stored at the Fylde Council Town Hall, Lancashire, North West: Fylde DFAS were determined to save, share and better store their decaying Town Hall Art Collection, one of the finest in the UK. Volunteers learned how to research and catalogue the Collection and even learned some museum curatorial skills to properly care for it. An online and printed catalogue of the Collection was produced, with images and information about it fully accessible for the first time. Now local people can better understand how important a resource this is and how central it is to the town’s culture and heritage. 
Port Sunlight Village Trust and Wirral Borough Council, The Wirral, North West: The Port Sunlight Village Trust (PSVT) is a registered charity which manages the Port Sunlight Museum, all of the green spaces, around 250 houses and 8 principal buildings in the village. Their aim is to conserve and maintain the Port Sunlight conservation area, encouraging a better understanding of its value as a heritage site. The charity worked with Wirral Borough Council to implement the Local Listed Building Consent Order as a positive way of conserving and enhancing Port Sunlight. This saved diminishing resources within the local authority and provided greater clarity to homeowners. Through their hard work and collaborative approach they have actively addressed local conservation issues and are a positive case study for future local groups and councils to learn from.

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