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Grant funding helps to protect trainee craftsmen at cathedrals

11 February 2022

ALAMY

A stonemason works on St Paul’s Cathedral in September

A stonemason works on St Paul’s Cathedral in September

THE Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship (CWF), which delivers specialist training to students of heritage crafts, has received a £700,000 grant from a philanthropist to support its training and education.

The Hamish Ogston Foundation followed up last year’s grant of £535,000 (News, 25 Januaru 2021) with a further grant for 2021-22, which, the fellowship says, has allowed cathedrals to protect training positions from the rounds of redundancies caused by the pandemic.

The original grant from the foundation helped to protect the places of several students. Lewis Jones, at Worcester Cathedral, and Tony Murphy, at Canterbury, had been facing redundancy, but, thanks to the funding, Mr Murphy secured a training placement at Gloucester Cathedral instead, and Mr Jones’s contract with Worcester was renewed.

The third phase of the foundation’s project, which forms part of its wider work to strengthen heritage-focused crafts, will run from this year until 2025, and will provide further training places, bringing the total number of trainees funded through the project to 50.

The CWF is an association of ten Anglican cathedrals: Canterbury, Chester, Durham, Exeter, Gloucester, Lincoln, Salisbury, Winchester, Worcester, and York Minster.

The Receiver General of Canterbury Cathedral, Chris Nickols, who chairs the CWF, praised the generosity of the foundation, which was set up by a retired businessman from Yorkshire.

“Its generosity and clear belief in the good work we do to maintain these important craft skills has been truly transformational at a time when cathedrals’ finances have been very hard hit, and the continuation of our courses would have been in severe doubt without this support.

“We are embarking on a four-year programme with the foundation’s support; this will allow us to plan to continue CWF’s work confidently while the member cathedrals continue their recovery from the effects of Covid.”

Thanks to the grants, he said, the future of those training in heritage crafts was “looking very bright for CWF over the next few years, and we look forward to making a major contribution to the skills and qualifications of our people working in these areas vital to the maintenance of this heritage, which is so important to our nation.”

Until last September, students were taught over Zoom owing to Covid uncertainty. In-person visits and training at cathedrals began again in the autumn. Twelve students completed their course at the end of last year, and 14 new students enrolled on the foundation degree course in September.

The CWF’s annual report was published at the end of last month. It said that the fellowship had decided to become a charity in its own right, owing to the amount of work and because the majority of its funding was now coming from an external donor rather than member cathedrals.

Each cathedral now makes a contribution of £2500 to the fellowship, compared with £5000 in previous years. Eighty-six per cent of the Fellowship’s income comes from the Hamish Ogston Foundation, two per cent from cathedral contributions, and nine per cent from other grant-making bodies, including Historic England, Friends of the Cotswolds, and Ecclesiastical Insurance.

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