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Sun July 14 2024

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£29m donation seeks to plug heritage skills gaps

11 Aug 23 The Hamish Ogston Foundation has committed nearly £29m to fund heritage skills training in the UK and around the commonwealth.

Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship apprentice Joe O’Connell (left) and benefactor Hamish Ogston in the Salisbury Cathedral workshop [Photo: Finbarr Webster]
Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship apprentice Joe O’Connell (left) and benefactor Hamish Ogston in the Salisbury Cathedral workshop [Photo: Finbarr Webster]

Some 2,700 new heritage conservation workers are expected to be trained as a result of the funding.

The initiative is part of a global effort to fix skills shortage in heritage conservation sector and protect historic architecture including buildings and monuments

There are four UK recipients of grant funding: English Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland, Commonwealth Heritage Forum and Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship. The funding is also going to 19 commonwealth nations across five continents, from Fiji and Bermuda to Pakistan and Ghana.

Under the instruction of heritage conservation experts, the trainees will learn the centuries-old techniques required to maintain and repair historic buildings across these nations including stonemasonry, carpentry, joinery and flint knapping.

Some of the identified buildings that are expected to benefit from this new wave of funding from the Hamish Ogston Foundation include England’s Canterbury Cathedral and Bury St Edmunds Abbey Church Ruins and Abbey Gate, the Herbarium at the Botanic Gardens in Kolkata, India, and New Zealand’s Christchurch Cathedral.

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The Hamish Ogston Foundation is a UK-based grant making organisation supporting third party projects in relation to health, heritage and music in the UK and abroad. The organisation is headed by businessman-turned-philanthropist Hamish Ogston. 

His foundation has now committed a total of £43m to heritage skills training, which is financing the training up to 3,300 heritage conservation apprentices and trainees globally. The foundation already has collaborations with Historic England, National Trust, The Prince’s Foundation and the World Monuments Fund.

Hamish Ogston said: “A sustainable, future-facing ecosystem of heritage conservation expertise is what is needed to solve the chronic skills shortages and gaps in the heritage sector, and to ensure the survival of some of the greatest historic buildings around the world.

“With this new funding, we hope to establish such an ecosystem, so that more young people, no matter who they are or where they come from, can access the unique opportunity of a career in heritage conservation through one of our skills training programmes. We aim to inspire the industry and to establish a coherent and accessible training infrastructure for those looking to learn skills in heritage conservation.”

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