Hamish Ogston Foundation puts millions into traditional skills
Both Historic England and the Cathedral’s Workshop Fellowship have received funding for their training in traditional building skills from the Hamish Ogston Foundation (HOF), established by Hamish Ogston CBE in 2019.
From Historic England comes a £4,325,000 five-year programme to help address what are described as “long-term and severe heritage skills shortages in the construction sector”. It is now recruiting apprentices for the programme.
And for the Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship (CWF) the Foundation has given a further award of £700,000. This is in addition to the HOF Covid Emergency grant of £535,000 announced in January. It will enable the 10 CWF cathedrals to offer training places to 25 craft trainees from September.
The grant to Historic England is heralded as the largest one-off investment ever made in heritage construction training in England.
It will fund an in-work heritage skills and apprenticeship scheme that aims to increase expertise in essential crafts including stonemasonry.
Historic England says: “Without intervention now, these crucial skills are at risk of being lost forever with grave consequences for England’s pre-1919 historic buildings.”
One of the Hamish Ogston Foundation’s stated aims is to “rebalance the economic divide between the South of England and the rest of the UK” and the Historic England apprentices and trainees (some will be upskilling further into their careers) will work alongside Historic England experts at sites in the North of England that are on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register.
They will contribute to the restoration of historic buildings such as the Grade I listed Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire, the latest work on which was featured in NSS in March this year (to read that click here).
Historic England wants this five-year scheme to attract a future workforce to the heritage sector that represents the diversity of the population of the UK.
Those on the scheme will be able to further their skills at critical points in their career, supporting the governments promise of lifetime learning.
The Historic England training and apprenticeship programme will offer new pathways into heritage construction for a whole range of people, from youngsters interested in a career in heritage construction to experienced professionals working in mainstream construction who want to specialise in the heritage sector.
Applications for places on the scheme opened on 30 June. There will be 40 training opportunities available during the next five years with five apprentices being recruited now.
Interested? You can view the apprenticeships available and apply online at bit.ly/HEskills. But be quick: applications close at midnight on 18 July.
The apprentices will attend four-to-six-week summer schools at nationally significant Heritage at Risk sites starting in the Summer of 2022.
And for the Cathedral Workshop Fellowship the latest funding from HOF marks the second phase of a five-year partnership between CWF and HOF, with HOF contributing £3.1million in total to expand heritage training at the English cathedrals.
This will enable the cathedrals to continue to develop the next generation of craftspeople essential for the maintenance of these historically important sites despite the devastating impact of Covid-19 on finances – because Cathedrals rely on visitors and congregations for their incomes.
CWF Executive Director Frances Cambrook says: “We are delighted that the Hamish Ogston Foundation has recognised the value of the training we provide for craftspeople in cathedrals, and the importance of ensuring its continuation as cathedrals start to recover from the effects of the pandemic.
“Craft skills take time to develop and it is vital that we maintain the training momentum through the difficult years ahead. The funding will enable us to deliver training next year and plan confidently to offer further training opportunities over the next four years.”
Trainee stonemason Harriet Bailey is one of the those who will benefit directly from this grant. Harriet is due to complete her NVQ Level 3 in Stonemasonry at York College this summer and has been looking for a training role to enable her to progress. The HOF funding has enabled Chester Cathedral to create a training position to which Harriet has just been recruited. She will join the Level 4 course in September.
Harriet says she is honoured to be joining Chester cathedral and looks forward to reaching a stage where she can plan, manage, and carry out projects.
Robert Bargery, Heritage Director at the Hamish Ogston Foundation, says: “We are excited to be working with CWF on this timely project, which not only supports the heritage sector at a time of crisis but invests in the skills needed to conserve our cathedrals. Our oldest and finest buildings will not survive without a continuous flow of skilled craftspeople and a key part of our strategy is to give trainees a helping hand as they embark on a truly rewarding career.”