The Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee
Commonwealth Heritage Skills Training Programme

Fig. 2. Sir Rodney Williams, Governor-General of Antigua and Barbuda and Patron of the Commonwealth Heritage Forum (right), was in attendance with his wife, Lady Williams (centre), to honour the launch of Phase 1 of this ambitious conservation initiative. Philip Davies, founder and Consultant CEO of the Commonwealth Heritage Forum (left).

The Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Commonwealth Heritage Skills Training Programme was launched at the Commonwealth Secretariat in May 2022 and accorded the rare privilege of using Her late Majesty’s name to honour her seventy years of service to the Commonwealth of Nations. Phase 1 of the Programme, funded by £4.6 million, supported trainees in India, Barbados, Singapore, and Antigua.

Under our new Commonwealth Coronation Agreement, Phase 2 of our Programme has been awarded £12.26 million over the next four years to train more than 3,500 young people in heritage skills in countries where there is little existing capacity to address heritage at risk. This is the largest ever investment in heritage skills in Commonwealth history, celebrating His Majesty The King’s Coronation and His Majesty’s role as Head of the Commonwealth.

The training will develop the hands-on craft skills and the sustainable strategies needed to repair historic buildings at risk and manage change in the historic environment. We will focus on those countries where local stakeholders tell us the need is greatest, and where there is little existing capacity to manage or restore heritage at risk. We are committed to helping people from disadvantaged communities and deprived backgrounds and guided by what local communities value.

The practical training will target at least twenty sites over the next four years in the Caribbean, West and East Africa, Asia, and the Pacific, including Guyana, Barbados, Antigua, St. Helena, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, India, Pakistan, Fiji, and Malta. In addition, £2 million has also been donated towards the reconstruction of Christ Church Cathedral, New Zealand, which was devastated by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake in 2011, including support for the heritage skills training.

In addition to practical works, the funding includes support for bursaries to The Prince’s Foundation Summer School at Dumfries House, scholarships at The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts, Training Champions and Internships to tackle heritage at risk in target countries, regional Commonwealth Summer Schools, and the establishment of heritage skills training hubs in the Caribbean, Africa and India. We are also developing free online courses covering over twenty specific skills from stonemasonry and lime mortar to mud brick and thatch taught by experts from across the Commonwealth.

Managed by our Consultant Team at the Commonwealth Heritage Forum, collaborative support will come from a broad network of partners, including The Prince’s Foundation, the World Monuments Fund, Oxford Brookes University and leading architectural and conservation practices.

The Programme has a two-pronged approach, building local capacity and resilience by nurturing the heritage champions of the future, and on-site training projects, to safeguard the future of important buildings and sites at risk across the Commonwealth.

Philip Davies, the Founder and Consultant CEO of the Commonwealth Heritage Forum has stressed:

“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 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 helping to build local capacity and create life-changing opportunities for young people in nations around the world.”

16 trainees from the UK and Hyderabad worked together in October 2022 to learn both practical and conceptual conservation skills at Osmania Women's College, Hyderabad (what was the former British Residency). Here they are working on the South Portico, which was complete in January 2023. Find out more about this project.

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