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Philanthropist gives £1/2 million for cathedral crafts

25 January 2021

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THE Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship (CWF) has been awarded more than half a million pounds by the Hamish Ogston Foundation to support craft training for 21 students, from this month to August.

‘If you think that’s skilful, you should see the budget he’s secured’

CWF is an association of nine Anglican cathedrals: Canterbury, Durham, Exeter, Gloucester, Lincoln, Salisbury, Winchester, Worcester, and York Minster. It was established in 2006 to deliver craft training and education on behalf of these cathedrals.

The Hamish Ogston Foundation was established in 2019 by the philanthropist of the same name to support health, heritage, and music. Its £535,000 grant awarded to CWF will fund the first phase of a planned five-year project to protect training positions from potential redundancies, and ensure that craft skills training and development can continue despite the ongoing uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The CWF annual report, published on Monday of last week, explained: “The Hamish Ogston Foundation Craft Training project will form part of the Foundation’s work to strengthen heritage-focused crafts to help ensure that the skills needed for the repair and maintenance of our treasured buildings are kept alive.”

Mr Ogston is a retired Yorkshire businessman. He gave £2 million to the York Minster restoration fund in 2008, and donated £384,000 for the repair of the organ in Liverpool Cathedral.

At the start of the pandemic, the CWF Foundation degree course, which began ten years ago, was suspended until September, and later restarted online. This and other projects were funded by a £46,180 grant from Historic England’s Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund.

Last year, the Foundation was also awarded a £12,500 grant from Ecclesiastical Insurance; £9000 from the Friends of the Cotswolds to train an apprentice stonemason at Gloucester Cathedral; and £3750 from the Worshipful Company of Masons to support its heritage craft skills training.

Grants amounted to about one third of its total income. The cathedrals contributed £5000 each to cover the deficit in the year to July 2020: just under half (46 per cent) of its total income. Course fees contributed 18 per cent of total income. Three-quarters (74 per cent) of its degree graduates were still employed in one of the nine cathedrals at the time of writing, its annual report states. Many had been furloughed through the lockdowns.

Air Marshal Chris Nickols, who chairs the CWF, said that cathedrals had “stood proud” through the pandemic, “with an air of permanence despite the many changes going on within and around them . . . they will continue as a centre of the life and worship of so many communities, as well as being some of the finest examples of craftsmanship in the world.”

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