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October 31 2011

Heritage prize for the north's only finalist in Lloyd Webber's glitzy new heritage awards

Unpaid workers who have rescued a Leeds church for community use - shifting three full skips of mummified pigeons and their droppings in the process - star in London bash

It's six weeks since the Northerner lamented the lack of finalists from our three regions in Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'English Heritage Angel' awards which celebrate local people's work in protecting historic, interesting or beautiful buildings or landscape.

The fanfare is just that; it doesn't come with funding or the chance to perform in one of the Lord's stage productions, like Connie Fisher who triumphed in How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?

But it draws attention to the project as well as the work of those responsible for the transformation, and that encourages others with money or help in kind to pitch in. And the good news is that our solitary representative among the 16 finalists has...WON!

Yay! Well done the 120 volunteers who are returning the abandoned church of St Margaret of Antioch in Leeds to communal and imaginative use. We ran their prospectus back in September and you can read it here. Better still, get down there and see why they won earlier funding of £700,000 from English Heritage. Maybe you will be volunteer number 121.

The context of these awards is an alarming total of 5,828 buildings on English Heritage's At Risk Register. They include such wonders as Temple Mill in Leeds, which the Northerner also highlighted recently. Places such these simply cannot be lost.

English Heritage goes on to warn that:

Nationally, 3% of grade I and II* listed buildings are at risk

284 listed places of worship are among them

16.9% of England's 19,748 scheduled monuments are also at risk

The number of registered parks and gardens at risk increased from 99 (6.2%) in 2010 to 104 (6.4%) this year

Four of the six registered battlefields at risk are in Yorkshire and the Humber

Of the 7,481 conservation areas that have been surveyed, 516 (6.6%) are at risk.

St Margaret's team got their gong for the best restoration of a place of worship at a ceremony in London this morning, Monday 31 October, featuring the Lord and assorted celebs - Clare Balding, Graham Norton, Michael Winner and Danielle Hope. The other five winners are::

The Smythe Barn at Westenhanger, Hythe, Kent for the best craftsmanship on a heritage rescue
Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol, and St Stephen's, Rosslyn Hill, Hampstead, London, jointly for the best rescue of any other entry from the Heritage at Risk register.

Pleasley Colliery, Mansfield, Derbyshire (nearly northern...) for the best rescue of an industrial building or site
Tyntesfield Orangery in Somerset for the favourite award voted for by English Heritage members and readers of the Daily Telegraph, the awards' media partner.

Lloyd Webber signalled his future support at the award ceremony, saying:

All 16 shortlisted groups were exceptional and the judges had a hard time deciding between them. But in the end the winners stood out for their passion, perseverance and imagination, for the scale of the challenges they had taken on and for the legacy they leave behind – a secure future for beautiful historic buildings which without them could so easily have simply disappeared. I look forward to many others joining their ranks in the years to come.

Another of the judges, the classicist and TV presenter Bettany Hughes says:

The real joy of these awards is that we are recognising the value of the human spirit; our Angels are all men and women who have battled against the odds and who with flair, tenacity, sympathy, and sometimes wild inspiration have never taken 'no' for an answer and have instead laboured to make the world around them richer and better. If I wore hats, I would be in a perpetual state of taking my hat off to them all. We owe them much.

You can watch highlights from the awards ceremony on BBC 2's Culture Show at 6pm this coming Saturday 5 November. © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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