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Andrew Lloyd Webber Acknowledges Unsung Heroes of Heritage

Andrew Lloyd Webber Acknowledges Unsung Heroes of Heritage

Three Anglican churches - St Andrew’s Church, Epworth, Lincolnshire, St Alkmund’s Church, Shrewsbury and the Church of St James the Greater in Ab Kettleby, Leicestershire - are amongst the 17 heritage rescues chosen to go forward to the finals of the English Heritage Angel Awards in London on Monday 21 October, 2013.

Backed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the English Heritage Angel Awards celebrate the efforts of individuals and local groups all over the country who put hours of hard work and enthusiasm into saving derelict and severely damaged historic landmarks from being lost forever.

Andrew Lloyd Webber said: "I offer my heartfelt congratulations to the candidates shortlisted for this year's English Heritage Angel Awards who have been selected from a hugely impressive field of applicants. These Awards celebrate the time, energy and passion of volunteers across England who help to preserve our country's architectural heritage; acknowledging these unsung heroes is incredibly important and has contributed to an increase in the number of sites being taken off English Heritage's At Risk register. "

Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: “When heritage experts met recently to sift through almost 200 applications they were looking for passion, perseverance and imagination as well as the scale of the challenge and how well it had been tackled. What they found was that the quality of applications this year was higher than ever. We salute all these heroic heritage rescuers who prove that people not only care about their local heritage but are prepared to get stuck in and save it.

“With the aid of English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund, local authority conservation officers and countless other organisations – and sometimes simply on their own – our Angels applicants and thousands like them are tackling Heritage at Risk head on. As a nation enriched by its past, we should be truly grateful to our Angels for fighting the neglect and decay which threatens our future.”

St Andrew’s Church in Epworth, Lincolnshire, was saved from the brink of collapse by a group local people determined to keep it open for the community. It was only with the fundraising efforts of Melvyn Rose, Chairman of the Restoration Committee, that the much needed repair work was able to take place. It is now a key part of the community again.

Melvyn Rose said: “It is clear that if a restoration programme had not been put in place for St Andrews that the church would most certainly have closed by now. Fifteen years ago the roof was leaking, the masonry was eroded, and pinnacles on the tower roof were in danger of falling, amongst many other problems. Now, many people are forming the opinion that the church is the best it has ever been.”

The Church of St James the Greater in Ab Kettleby, Leicestershire, had to close in 2006 because of fears for its structural stability. Through fund raising and with grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage Repair Grants for Places of Worship scheme, the church has now been extensively repaired, re-opening with an Easter Sunday service this year.

Andrée Carter, trustee at the St James Church Restoration Fund said: “Threatened with decommissioning and deconsecration, our small village community worked together to raise the £250,000 required to restore and reopen our beautiful church of St James the Greater. It has given our village a common purpose, stimulated friendships and enabled a fabulous cooperative determination.”

After years of neglect, the Church of St Alkmund in Shrewsbury was facing an uncertain future until in 2000 the local community mobilised and work began to restore this magnificent Grade II* listed late 18th century church. The work, including replacing windows and re-slating the nave roof, has cost £1million, funded by grants including £500k from English Heritage.

The Revd Richard Hayes, Resident Priest at St Alkmund’s Church in Shrewsbury said: “Thirteen years ago St Alkmund’s Church was in a perilous position after one hundred years of neglect. As a church community we are profoundly grateful that our fund-raising efforts and the support of countless well-wishers have resulted in bringing a major building at the heart of historic Shrewsbury into daily community use.”

Groups from all the shortlisted entries have been invited to attend the English Heritage Angels Awards ceremony at the Palace Theatre in London’s West End where one Angel winner in each of four categories will be announced. The Awards show will be hosted by TV Presenter Paul Martin and held in the presence of the judges Andrew Lloyd Webber, Simon Thurley, Charles Moore of the Telegraph, historian Bettany Hughes and the Bishop of London, the Right Revd Richard Chartres. English Heritage is making films of all the rescue projects which will be shown on stage before the winners are announced.


English Heritage is inviting members of the public to visit  to see full details of the shortlist and vote for their favourite. By voting they will automatically be entered into a competition to win one of 50 pairs of tickets to the awards ceremony and two lucky voters will win not just a pair of tickets to the awards ceremony but also to the post-show reception hosted by Andrew Lloyd Webber.