The Commonwealth has launched the largest ever heritage project to help protect threatened historic buildings and create training opportunities for people across all 56 nations.
UK-based charities Commonwealth Heritage Forum and Hamish Ogston Foundation have named the initiative “The Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Commonwealth Heritage Skills Training Programme”, to recognise Her Majesty’s 70 years of service to the Commonwealth.
Over an initial five-year period, £4.5 million in funding from Hamish Ogston Foundation will help Commonwealth countries develop the range of specialist skills needed to protect valuable heritage sites. The programme will build capacity across the Commonwealth by training up to 600 people in a wide range of heritage skills from stonemasonry and joinery to mud brick and thatch.
Through targeted on-site training projects, it will help to secure the future of up to 20 historical threatened buildings and places across the Commonwealth.
The initial focus will be on the Caribbean and the Indian subcontinent with countries including Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, Barbados and India benefitting in the first tranche of projects supported. Trainees are already undertaking crucial restoration work under expert supervision on three historic gateways at the Osmania University College for Women in Hyderabad, India. Later phases of the programme will be extended to cover Commonwealth countries in Africa, Australasia, the Far East and the Pacific.
The launch was held at Marlborough House, the Commonwealth Secretariat headquarters, and was attended by Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland.
“This magnificent project has the potential to expand skills, expertise, capacity and resilience in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities,” said Scotland.
“It can repurpose at-risk Commonwealth heritage buildings as drivers of economic activity, education, and in modelling the climate-sensitive rehabilitation of historic spaces. And it is an appropriate tribute to Her Majesty’s legacy and continued service as Head of the Commonwealth.”
“The Hamish Ogston Foundation is proud to be funding this unique programme in honour of Her Majesty The Queen, whose dedication to duty over seventy years is repaid with the respect and affection of Commonwealth peoples across the world,” added Robert Bargery, Heritage Project Director at the Hamish Ogston Foundation.
“We are delighted to be providing, in Her Majesty’s name, training opportunities for young people that will stand them in good stead for sustainable careers and enable them to contribute to the preservation of historic buildings of real value to their communities.”
Learn more: The Commonwealth Secretariat