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Outstanding Contribution to Heritage

The following four entries have been shortlisted for outstanding contribution to heritage in the 2016 Historic England Angel Awards.

This category isn't open to the public vote. Entrants in this category include people who have been working and volunteering in heritage over a long period of time, so the applications in this category are longer and much more time consuming to judge. You can read excerpts from the applications below.

Alan and Griselda Garner for outstanding contribution to heritage

A man and woman sitting on camping chairs in a field.
Griselda and Alan Garner

The aim

To save Toad Hall from decay and dereliction, save the Old Medicine House from demolition, learn from the reconstruction, research 10,000 years of prehistory and history, share the story of Blackden with others, especially young people, involve others, especially young people, in investigation and research, acknowledge and celebrate the lives of previous inhabitants of the site, secure the long-term future of Blackden as an historic entity, accessible to all.

The outcomes

Toad Hall and the Old Medicine House are well maintained, in good structural condition and have a secure future. Research and investigation has greatly enhanced understanding of a multi-period landscape which bears exceptional testimony to human activity over ten thousand years. As the age and importance of the site emerged, the Garners made the evidence available to visitors, at first informally, but after The Blackden Trust was founded more formally and with greater regularity.

Involving young people

The Garners instigated the Eric Morten Award, given by The Blackden Trust, to acknowledge the student who has both gained the most from the activities of The Blackden Trust, and who has also contributed to its future. So far it has been awarded to three students, all of whom are still in contact with the Trust, as are other young people whose work with the Trust pre-dated the instigation of the award. Young people have been involved in the sorting of the Bronze Age cremation that was found while excavating the foundations of the Old Medicine House; transcribing Griselda’s diary of the moving of the Old Medicine House; and documentary research.

The action

Toad Hall faced decay and irreparable collapse when Alan purchased it. The Old Medicine House would have been demolished in 1970 without Alan and Griselda’s intervention. As it is, the building was painstakingly dismantled and rebuilt faithfully, with comprehensive records made by Michael Peach, some of which are publicly accessible via the Blackden Trust’s website. Saving Toad Hall and the Old Medicine House are significant achievements in their own right, but should not be viewed in isolation. The archaeological investigation and research that has been undertaken has set the buildings in a landscape context. Research has shed new light on the history and development of Toad Hall, once the home of the Eaton family, and new information continues to come to light.


In bequeathing the property to The Blackden Trust Alan and Griselda aim to ensure that their love of the place and its past will continue to be communicated to future generations and that work to reveal more of Blackden's story will be undertaken. Courses and workshops linked to the national curriculum allow students to work with primary material including prehistoric and later artefacts. The approach is cross-disciplinary, driven by questions, and puts history in conversation with sciences and mathematics. All this has been achieved through Alan and Griselda Garner’s effort and, through them, the voluntary contributions of their friends and supporters. Throughout it there have been voluntary contributions, whether in money or in kind that have sustained the development and successes at Blackden.

Carlo Diponio - Construction Supervisor at Dudley Zoo for outstanding contribution to heritage

Concrete building with sign that reads 'station cafe'
Carlo Diponio, Construction Supervisor at Dudley Zoo, is shortlisted for outstanding contribution to heritage

The aim

To restore the buildings utilising construction methods and craftmanship in the repair and renovation. This is alongside the interpretation of the four Tecton structures.


The outcomes of the project are the restoration of four of the Tecton buildings (removing them from 'at risk' status), the better understanding of the techniques of modern concrete technology and dissemination of the interpretation of the Tecton Buildings.

Carlo’s actions

Carlo has made an immeasurable and outstanding personal contribution to the restoration of the Tecton buildings at Dudley Zoo. Having a background in conservation and heritage skills Carlo joined the team at the zoo specifically to ensure the skills learnt through the restoration of the Tecton buildings would be kept within the zoo to ensure the sustainability and longevity of the skills and techniques learnt. He has shown considerable grit and determination in the execution of the project which has involved painstaking detailed work on concrete structures to ensure both the longevity of the structures but also so the aesthetic quality of the structures are displayed to their best effect. 

Carlo deserves to be a Heritage Angel as he has infectious enthusiasm and a relentless commitment to ensuring that the buildings are restored and the innovative methods of construction are not only used, but also disseminated to a wide audience which further spreads the benefit of the Heritage Lottery Fund award to a wider audience to maximise the benefits.


The Tecton buildings as a restoration project were in recognized need of repair with the concrete failing and inhibiting their use rendering them unfit for purpose.

The project is now well underway with four of the buildings being completed and repaired and others due for repair within a program of restoration planned. It has become a place for others (including the Twentieth Century Society) involved in the use of concrete to witness the restoration and techniques used.


Carlo demonstrates true passion for the structures and for their restoration through careful and painstaking application of techniques, making handmade tools to repair the buildings and using methods and trial and error to ensure that the best methods are used. Carlo has demonstrated grit and determination when seeking to push the boundaries of technology to ensure that the concrete is demonstrated to its best effect. Throughout the project, being focused within a living and working zoo there were many challenges of ensuring that the buildings are fit for purpose and can contribute to the living and working of the zoo. This has meant that Carlo has worked with the zoo animal welfare and management team to ensure that the Tectons structures are respected but also they are used in a manner that can ensure their longevity.


Many new skills have been learnt in the application of the project, in repair and in the application of techniques of concrete. These have been through traditional known methods but also by the application of new methods and a trial and error approach to the repair. The skills learnt have been disseminated both locally and internationally and in formal and informal settings.

David Lovell for outstanding contribution to heritage

David Lovell sitting in front of his PC
David Lovell has been shortlisted for his contribution to heritage on the Britain From Above and Enriching the List projects

The aim

Britain From Above: I identified over 300 images from 600 un-located photographs and made 65,500 contributions. Enrich the List: allows the public to share their knowledge and pictures of listed places.


Britain from Above began in June 2012 and 96,000 images have been digitised – project is ongoing. Enrich the List was launched in June 2016 and I have contributed over 1,500 images to this recent project, and have a library of 20,000 catalogued images which I hope to add as time allows.

Actions taken

I am passionate about both projects. I have the time, energy and ability to make a significant contribution and I will travel many miles to get the right picture. Three of my photos of Castlerigg, Airman’s Cross and Cloud’s Hill may be seen on the start-up screen of Historic England’s website. I have amassed a photographic collection of over 20,000 items, largely built up since June 2012.

The collection is catalogued. I have successfully identified over 300 previously unidentified Britain From Above photos. I have also added photos to the War Memorials Online site and have applied for five memorials to be listed.


Working with online websites has improved my IT skills, so I am much more proficient at editing photo images to the required standards. My research skills have also improved. I regularly look for supporting material to confirm my identifications, such as old maps and old photos.


All my contributions have been funded by myself and I always receive unfailing courtesy, respect and attention in my dealings with HE staff which is much appreciated.

Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain, Head Gardeners, West Dean Gardens for outstanding contribution to heritage

Stretch of lawn, pergoloa with green plants climbing its structure, large trees in the background.
The Edwardian pergola at West Dean Gardens

The aim

It was important that the 240 acre gardens design facilitated maintenance with limited resources to ensure self-funded sustainability. Jim and Sarah determined to work within the historic framework and build on its diverse characteristics, adding their own contemporary contributions as had previous generations.


Sarah and Jim are passionate professional gardeners with a particular interest in the management of heritage gardens open to the public. They took up the ultimate challenge to revitalise significant and very diverse historic gardens and take it to a new level. The gardens engender fierce loyalty and commitment from the public and everyone involved to its fabric and ethos. It is that enthusiasm that has sustained them through both the highs and lows of driving the project forward over the last 25 years.


The project has been an on-going act of imagination to create something new from the remains of the old, while respecting its past, using the original materials where applicable and developed their team's skills. They have also tapped into the expertise of their horticultural peer group.

In response to the need for sustainable funding the new Visitor Centre with restaurant, gift and plant sales was opened by The Prince of Wales. The gardens began opening to the public throughout the year and Jim and Sarah devised fundraising events. Sarah grows around 250 varieties of chillies and they founded the original Chilli Fiesta which has grown from humble beginnings 21 years ago to attracting around 25,000 visitors annually.


There have been many challenges from resources to flooding. Restoring and maintaining historic gardens carries an inherent sense of responsibility for future generations. Additionally meeting the needs and expectations of a diverse ‘audience’ from young families to short course students, postgraduate students to festival-goers, filmmakers and photographers to the local bowling club and theatrical group presents its own challenges, and rewards.


During the past 25 years Jim and Sarah have revitalised the 19th century designed landscape and brought the gardens back to life, and into the 21st century. The gardens today are internationally respected for both the quality and variety of horticultural practice and its historic features. The gardens attract around 60,000 visitors annually from all over the UK and the rest of the world.


“Jim and Sarah have given much of their lives to the gardens at West Dean. Over the many years that I have visited the garden I am always amazed at the high level of horticulture that is displayed in the grounds, and under glass. Over 25 years this incredible pair has gardened to a level that is admirable, and inspirational.” Christine Walkden, plantswoman and horticulturist, broadcaster and author.

We are grateful this year to Aon Private Clients for sponsoring this award.

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