The Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Commonwealth Heritage Skills Training Programme is launched at Commonwealth HQ, Marlborough House

The Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Commonwealth Heritage Skills Training Programme – the largest ever Commonwealth heritage project - was launched on 19 May 2022 by the Commonwealth Heritage Forum. The charity has been granted the rare honour of naming the five-year programme in honour of the Sovereign, thus recognising Her Majesty’s seventy years of service to the peoples of the Commonwealth.

The programme was launched at Marlborough House, home of the Commonwealth Secretariat, in the presence of Baroness Scotland, the Commonwealth Secretary-General. It will help Commonwealth countries to develop the range of specialist skills needed to protect valuable heritage sites. Over an initial five-year period, 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 secure the future of up to twenty important but threatened buildings and places across the Commonwealth.

With £4.5m in funding, the Commonwealth Heritage Skills training programme will be delivered by both UK and international partners, including The Prince’s Foundation, the World Monuments Fund India, and an international network of educational institutions. One of the first initiatives will be bursaries at The Prince’s Foundation Summer School enabling trainees from different Commonwealth countries to develop their knowledge and understanding of traditional architecture, design and building techniques, and how these can be applied in the 21st century to repair and conserve historic buildings at risk. Other opportunities will include MA scholarships at The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts, Commonwealth training fellowships, and online courses covering up to twenty core heritage skills.

The initial focus will be on the Caribbean and the Indian subcontinent with countries including Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, Barbados and India benefiting 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.

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