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Best Contribution to a Heritage Project by Young People

The following four projects have been shortlisted for the best contribution by young people in the 2016 Historic England Angel Awards.

To find out more about the projects and people, please read the excerpts from their submissions below.

Fishponds Church of England Academy for the project Fishponds War Memorial

A student laying a wreath at a commemorative ceremony at Fishponds war memorial
Year 6 students from Fishponds Church of England Academy were helped to carry out a condition survey of Fishponds War Memorial and write an application to Historic England that resulted in the memorial's protection by listing. © Historic England

The aims of the project

The aim was to get the local First World War Memorial designated as a listed building and to support the First World War Memorial Programme. By going through this process, it was also an aim for the children to get an understanding of the need for designating heritage sites as well as giving them a greater understanding of the local story relating to the First World War.

The major outcome 

The major outcome was that the memorial was successfully listed. This meant that Fishponds Academy became the first school nationally to successfully get their local memorial designated as a listed building and in doing so promoted the First World War Memorial Programme, through the publicity garnered by their achievements.

The project

The project was to apply for the listing of the Fishponds war memorial. It was undertaken by two classes of Year 6 children, a total of 60 children aged 10 to 11 years old. In November 2014 the same children, then in Year 5, undertook a project organised through the Heritage Schools Programme to investigate the stories of the men named on the memorial. They did this with the support of the military historian Jeremy Banning who is based in Bristol who took them on a local tour of the houses where the men named on the memorial lived, as well as a visit to the nearby Beaufort war hospital which was used during the First World War.

The action

Jeremy and I took them to the memorial where the children carried out a condition survey of the monument. They recorded observations of the monument including a physical description, recording materials used in its construction, a list of plinths, damage to the memorial and noting of any additions to the monument through time. While some children were doing this, others were working with Jeremy recording names and regiments on the memorial. Jeremy then took the children through the process of how they could find more details about the men using the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. A smaller group worked with me looking at a facsimile of a page from the Western Daily Press from March 1921 which carried a story about the official opening of the memorial. From this the children were able to find information on the designer of the memorial, who unveiled it and quotes from the original speeches, all of which they used in their listing application.

Letters of support

The children were then given the task by their teachers of writing persuasive letters to Katy Whitaker, Historic England, to support the formal listing application. Some of the things the children wrote include:

“…it brings history and memories to our local area.”

“I was there on memorial day and the amount of people who gathered round to show their respect was unbelievable…”

"This amazing piece of history means something to everybody even if their family did not go to war…”

“It is a part of the local community and we want to remember those who died for us.”

Presenting the project at Westminster

The invitation to pupils to speak at the APPG for Civic Societies in Westminster, chaired by the Prime Minister's Special Representative for Centenary Commemorations, Dr Andrew Murrison, by may have seemed daunting to many adults, but the children who represented their class demonstrated a true commitment to the project in their impressive presentation.

Heritage Hunters for the project Heritage Hunters

Young people at Auckland Castle
Young participants at Auckland Castle for the Heritage Hunters project

The overall aim

The overall aim was to break down barriers and find ways of encouraging young people and families to visit Auckland Castle, hear its stories and see it as something important for them and their community, to become tour guides for the castle, to explore how interpretation could be improved, to look at creative ways of making the castle’s heritage exciting and appealing.

The outcomes of the project

A fantastic and unexpected outcome of the project was that the Auckland Castle Trust decided to continue the scheme beyond the life-span of the HLF funded project. The Heritage Hunters have delivered their own tours to more than 200 people – including a group of visitors from Sweden and Norway. From dressing up as one of the Prince Bishops and performing their own songs to pointing out overlooked architectural features and focusing on the role of women – their tours were designed to appeal to their peers and families. They have also held several family fun days. They created an album of songs with a local band about the castle, designed a Heritage Hunters logo, held a photographic exhibition, took part in a film about involving young people in the castle and even set up a Mini Heritage Hunters group for younger children.

How the project began

A local landmark, Auckland Castle was always in the background of their lives but definitely not a place local young people visited – until a group decided to find out why. Working with their support officer at Investing in Children CIC and the Auckland Castle Trust, the group started exploring ideas of how they would make the castle more inviting for young people and families. They successfully applied for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £28,900 in December 2014 and began to put those plans into action. The group was made up of 12 young people aged 10 to 21, many of whom came from challenging backgrounds.

The action

In early 2015 they turned detective to investigate how other castles engaged with young people and to uncover the stories they found interesting about Auckland Castle – including the Prince Bishops, quirky architecture and the role of women. Some explored ways the castle could become more accessible and inclusive of those with disabilities. The group trained to become tour guides and have led more than 200 people around the site, with their use of costumes and songs becoming incredibly popular. Photo exhibitions, a soundtrack dedicated to the castle and family fun days were just some of the methods the group used to break down the barriers and make Auckland Castle exciting for young people and families. The ideas all came from the young participants themselves and their passion and hard work are highly commended for making them a reality.


“My children loved it and liked the fact it was other children taking them around the castle and want to come back.”

The Heritage Hunters’ individual stories demonstrate just how important the project was to them and how vital they all were to the project.

BillyJoe came up with the idea of using songs to share stories. He went from singing under tables to performing in front of hundreds of people: “I was so scared to sing in front of so many people, especially in the castle, and now I have sung to hundreds of people and even been in a recording studio for the first time, with my own songs on an EP, which is mint.”

Daisymay said working with the group “has given me faith in myself to talk up without getting embarrassed.”

Josh Aitken-Dunkeld for the project at Frank James Hospital

A teenage boy and adult man planting a tree.
The youngest of the Friends of Frank James Hospital, 16 year old Josh plays a key role in the group's work


The group of volunteers started as a team of guerrilla gardeners who worked to clean up the overgrown grounds of the hospital which closed in 2002 and had become derelict and forgotten.

How it began

The group entered into discussions with the consortium of owners and gained permission to continue their work and so the Friends of Frank James were born. What started as a project to keep the hospital from being overgrown has grown into an enthusiastic campaign group which work tirelessly to raise awareness of the future of the hospital, working with owners, the local authority and other key stakeholders to ensure the amazing building is safeguarded for future generations.


As a result of thousands of hours of volunteer work on site the Friends of Frank James have generated local and national publicity and continue to maintain the grounds and campaign for a better outcome for the building. By bringing together the Local Authority and private businesses the friends have ensured that the site is now properly fenced and secure from further vandalism and theft.

The group

At the age of 16 Josh joined the Friends of Frank James as the youngest member of the group and his passion and enthusiasm for the project meant he soon became a key member of the volunteers. His talent for highlighting the plight of Frank James to people outside of the group led to him creating and running the website for the group, creating You Tube videos and running their social media presence on Facebook.

The action

In 2014 the Friends of Frank James campaigned to bring Historic England (English Heritage as was) to the Isle of Wight to deliver a training session on "Stopping the Rot" as well as highlighting the work of different community heritage organisations on the Island. Despite being only 18 Josh agreed to give a presentation to the packed audience even though he was nervous having never given a speech to such a big audience with press, politicians and representatives from heritage organisations. His emotional speech touched the hearts of many of the delegates as he spoke extremely positively about his passion and determination to see a better future for the hospital.

Since then Josh has continued to play a key role in the groups work. At the recent 4 year anniversary open day held by the Friends at the site Josh created a display of hospital items from the site and information boards charting the history of the site as well as helping with refreshments and the running of the day.

This year Josh has been undertaking an extensive programme to photographically record the inside and outside of the hospital as part of an application to Historic England to upgrade the building to Grade II* which he is making.

Over the last 4 years Josh has worked tirelessly to champion the Frank James Hospital to the Isle of Wight Community and beyond. Despite the continue problems faced by the Friends group to secure a future use for the site he continues to champion for its future and spreading the message of Frank James far and wide.

William Fakes for the project at Middleton Park, Leeds

Boy standing in woods wearing coat and baseball cap, smiling and holding clipboard.
13-year-old William Fakes now mentors younger members of the Young Archaeologists Club

The aim of the project

The Parks for People project has help to restore and reinstate the Victorian features in Middleton Park and interpret the industrial heritage features, enhancing the woodland, improving access and increasing the use of the Park.

Outcomes from the project

Through the Parks for People project the park is now in better condition with historic features conserved and interpreted. Following from the Middleton Park History Detectives' Club which was funded through the Parks project, the Leeds branch of the YAC developed and grown successfully.

How it began: Leeds Young Archaeologists’ Club (YAC) has been set up following the very successful Middleton Park History Detectives’ Club, which was funded as part of the Parks for People regeneration scheme funded through HLF and the Big Lottery fund.

The project

This scheme saw the popular South Leeds Park being transformed, with new footpaths, signage, a bandstand and the construction of a fabulous new visitor centre, which is the main venue for the Leeds YAC. The project helped to regenerate the park, protect it's ancient woodlands and survey and explain the scheduled ancient monuments within the park. The Parks for People project completed in November 2014 but the YAC group have gone from strength to strength working especially with the Friends of Middleton Park.

Individual action

William was one of over 100 children who took part in the Middleton Park Schools History Project, delivered to local primary schools in 2012. This project was a skills focused project to engage young people in the area, learn about heritage and develop a range of skills. Since the project William has been a prominent member of his local YAC and one of the first to get involved. He now mentors younger members of the group and his research is used in interpretation in the visitor centre.

Being involved in the project and continuing involvement in YAC has helped to build his confidence and helped him overcome personal challenges. He is a passionate and enthusiastic member of the group whose enthusiasm is infectious. He has developed his archaeology skills as they have recorded the industrial and archaeological heritage of Middleton 'Miggy' Park. He is a great ambassador for the Park, its heritage and archaeology, inspiring others to get involved and ensuring that the Park's heritage is shared with others and protected for the future.

Looking to the future

William is now 13 and plans to study archaeology and become a leader and volunteer at YAC helping others learn about archaeology in the way he did. Also he plans to never have a job behind a desk!

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