Conservation Manager Neil Rushton wins Charity Staff Award

07 Mar 2014

Dr Neil Rushton, Conservation Projects Manager at The Churches Conservation Trust, has won a Cultural Heritage Champion award at the national Charity Staff & Volunteer Awards 2014, it has been announced.

Alongside his day-to-day job looking after 115 churches in the West of England, Neil has been leading the 'Discovering Hidden Somerset' project since the summer of 2012 when, in conjunction with Wessex Archaeology, he used the small church of St Andrew in Holcombe as the starting point for training and community involvement. 

The project has consisted of a series of archaeological surveys, where students and local and not so local people were shown the latest digital techniques for surveying historic buildings and landscapes. The surveys have helped us to understand this historic church within the context of its landscape and the local communities who have used the building for nearly 1000 years. Neil's remit has been to ensure as many people as possible were involved in the training. The main activities ran over the course of a year, ending in a small excavation within the church, and in all over 200 people took part.

The idea is to take the Holcombe blueprint for training and volunteer involvement and roll it out in all 18 of the Trust's churches in Somerset. It is hoped that the Trust will be able to find funding for the project through to 2018.

On hearing that he had won the award Neil said:

"This is a great recognition for the work of the CCT with volunteers and local communities. People need to feel a sense of involvement with our churches if we are going to ensure their sustainability into the future, and the Hidden Somerset project has been exceptionally successful at bringing a range of people to the church to be part of a very exciting project."

Neil would like to dedicate this award to the late Professor Mick Aston, whose enthusiasm and ideas were fundamental in starting the project in 2012.

Donna Heenan, Major Donor Manager for CCT was also shortlisted for the Professional Fundraiser of the Year Award.

Pic © Neil Gibson.