Funding from Hamish Ogston Foundation to mark Charles III’s coronation

Lime rendering prep demonstration

Lime rendering prep demonstration, Hyderabad

The Hamish Ogston Foundation has pledged £12.26 million to foster heritage skills within the Commonwealth.

The funding will span the next four years and contribute towards the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Commonwealth Heritage Skills Training Programme, led by the Commonwealth Heritage Forum. The programme aims to train over 3,500 young individuals in heritage skills, particularly in nations with limited resources to safeguard endangered heritage.

Launched at the Commonwealth Secretariat in May 2022, the initial phase of the programme supported trainees in Barbados, India, Singapore, and Antigua. Phase 2 marks the coronation of Charles III and celebrates his role as the Head of the Commonwealth.

The training initiative seeks to cultivate practical craft skills and sustainable strategies essential for renovating at-risk historic structures and effectively managing transformations in historical contexts. The programme will primarily focus on countries where the need is most urgent and where the capacity to restore heritage is lacking. Emphasising inclusivity, the programme aims to assist underprivileged communities and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Philip Davies, the founder and consultant CEO of the Commonwealth Heritage Forum said: “Through the generosity of the Hamish Ogston Foundation, this landmark Coronation Agreement offers an unparalleled opportunity for young people in every part of the Commonwealth. It will help them gain the skills they need to save the heritage that they value and to address the challenges of rapid urbanisation and climate change”.

Lime slaking with Ravi Gundu Rao

Lime slaking with Ravi Gundu Rao, Hyderabad

In the upcoming four years, the practical training will extend to at least twenty sites across the Caribbean, West and East Africa, Asia, and the Pacific, encompassing locations such as Guyana, Barbados, Antigua, St. Helena, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, India, Pakistan, Fiji, and Malta. Additionally, a donation of £2 million has been earmarked for the reconstruction of New Zealand’s Christ Church Cathedral, ravaged by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake in 2011, alongside supporting heritage skills training.

Beyond practical efforts, the funding will also facilitate bursaries to The Prince’s Foundation Summer School at Dumfries House, scholarships at The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts, training internships to tackle heritage risk, Commonwealth Summer Schools, and the establishment of heritage skills training hubs in the Caribbean, Africa, and India.

The Commonwealth Heritage Forum is also in the process of developing free online courses covering more than twenty specific skills, taught by experts from across the Commonwealth, ranging from stonemasonry and lime mortar to mud brick and thatch techniques.

Robert Bargery, heritage project director of the Hamish Ogston Foundation said: “Commonwealth countries share a special relationship – each part of an extended family of nations whose lives, histories and futures are deeply entwined. Crafted by local peoples over many generations, this shared built inheritance is a tangible expression of the links that bind us together.

“This huge increase in funding by the Foundation will provide a future for the past in many Commonwealth countries and nurture the local heritage champions of the future. It will help foster conservation-led, sustainable regeneration which will help build local capacity and create life-changing opportunities for young people in nations around the world.”

The work will be supported by a network of partners including The Prince’s Foundation, the World Monuments Fund, Oxford Brookes University, and prominent architectural and conservation practices.

The programme seeks to adopt a twofold approach, fostering local capacity and resilience through training future heritage leaders, and implementing on-site training initiatives to secure the future of endangered buildings and sites across the Commonwealth.

The funding will also bolster heritage skills training programmes in collaboration with English Heritage, the Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship, and Historic Environment Scotland.

>> Also read: Could restoring Britain’s colonial heritage help revive former trade ties?

Roxburgh Research Hub Interns

Source: Commonwealth Heritage Forum

Roxburgh Research Hub interns, Kolkata