Cathedral Crafts Given Funding Lifeline

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Cathedral Crafts Given Funding Lifeline

As part of a longer-term investment aimed at keeping alive the specialist skills needed to repair and maintain our cathedrals the Hamish Ogston Foundation (HOF) has joined forces with the Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship (CWF) to fund twenty-one stonemasonry and joinery trainees at English cathedrals in 2021.

Emergency funding of £535,000 will give the twenty-one trainees, and their employers, stability at a time of uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Without this support, some of the trainees would have had to call a halt to their studies and others would have faced redundancy, with the strong likelihood that their skills would have been lost to the heritage sector.

The funding marks the first phase of a five-year, £2.8m HOF/CWF project to expand heritage training at English cathedrals. Even before the pandemic, many cathedrals were reaching crisis point, with no dedicated public funding to help them address the backlog of repairs. Their financial position has been made much worse by COVID-19, in the wake of which it is unlikely that any cathedral will have the money to take on heritage craft trainees in the short term. The HOF/CWF Craft Training project, details of which will be published shortly, will be key to maintaining the flow of skilled craftspeople on whom the future of our cathedrals depends.

CWF Executive Director Frances Cambrook said:

“We are very excited to be working with the Hamish Ogston Foundation on this important initiative. Cathedrals, like everyone, have been hit hard by the pandemic and the immediate future of our craft training programmes was in jeopardy. The funding will enable training to continue online throughout the rest of this academic year, avoiding the loss of trainee positions, and enable us to plan confidently to increase training opportunities over the next four years”.

Stonemason Tony Murphy is one of the trainees who will benefit directly from this grant. Redundancy had meant that he would have to give up his place on the CWF’s 2-year Foundation degree course, but HOF funding has enabled Tony to take up a new placement at Gloucester Cathedral which will allow him to complete the course this year. Tony said:

“The funding from the Hamish Ogston Foundation is enabling me to continue my learning through the CWF at Gloucester Cathedral. I am passionate about furthering my skills and deepening my knowledge and experience as a crafts person. The broad range of teaching, work-based learning and professional development provided by the CWF is an invaluable opportunity for me. I am incredibly grateful to the HOF for their support”.

Pascal Mychalysin, Master Mason at Gloucester Cathedral said:

“We are delighted to welcome Tony to our workshop and to provide him the means to finish his degree course here at Gloucester Cathedral. It is vital that we can continue our training activities in the here and now to protect our heritage for future generations, and we are hugely grateful to the Hamish Ogston Foundation for stepping up in this time of need.”

ENDS

Notes for Editors

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