Historian Bettany Hughes, celebrates the everyday heroes who rescue our heritage and how they’re recognised through the Angel Awards.
Since I first started judging the Angel Awards in 2011, their inaugural year, I have been introduced to some truly inspirational restoration projects right across the country. As a species we should never live in the past, but we are fools if we don’t admit we live with it.In the streets, churches, parks, wild places and homes, both great and small, all around us – is carried a collective memory of what it is to be human; our hopes and fears, pleasures and pains – reminders of how to love and to live together. By preserving these historic treasures – often neglected or overlooked – we allow their stories to speak – and to become our own.
Adam Wilcockson, the trainee stonemason who won last year’s Craftsmanship award for his work restoring a turret of Lincoln Cathedral, talked of how he too was now a part of the history of this ancient building. This struck a real chord with me. The Angel Awards recognise and celebrate the humanity of the built environment. They applaud the way passionate and determined individuals keep our country rich and rewarding.
Aristotle said that ‘pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work,’ and these awards pay tribute to the work of ordinary people who care about and take pleasure in their local history. Each year, I have seen the beautiful, results of the determination of these all-too-often unsung heroes. Every year I fall in love with each and every one of them!
Apply for an Angel Award
If you have been involved in a heritage rescue project, come forward and find out how you can apply for an Angel Award: I just can’t wait to hear your story.