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    Duke of Gloucester to launch Heritage Skills Fair

HRH The Duke of Gloucester will launch Northumberland National Park Traditional Boundaries Training Scheme at the Heritage Skills Fair.

Heritage Skills Fair

His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester will launch a major new training programme  for Northumberland National Park Authority called Traditional Boundaries, on Friday 30 September 2005 at the North East Heritage Skills Fair.

TheTraditional Boundaries Training Scheme was developed in response to a rural landscape study showing a critical lack of the skilled professionals needed to maintain the many kilometres of boundary walls and landscape features in the National Park, and in the North East region.  It is a national pilot training programme with nationally-recognised qualifications. Students will learn dry stone walling, joinery, landscape maintenance and conservation. It will be open to people of all ages interested in an outdoor career.  Over five years National Park Rangers, educationalists and conservationists will train 50 apprentices and 125 volunteers, restore 20 kilometres of dry stone wall and other traditional boundaries and mentor at least three new rural craft micro-businesses.

Derek Proudlock, who heads the National Park Ranger Service and devised the scheme said: “The promotion and support of new small enterprises is a crucial plank in this training programme. To give newly trained people every chance to thrive the courses will include business skills, health and safety and quad bike driving, and the national qualifications will enable the craftspeople to find work wherever it is available.”

The National Park Authority has raised some £2 million of funding for Traditional Boundaries from several partners including the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Cultural Sector Development Initiative led by Arts Council England, and the Northumberland National Park Authority's Sustainable Development Fund.

On Friday 30th September the 'Traditional Building Craft Skills'Report for the North East concerning the built heritage of the region andwhich has been sponsored by English Heritage, will also be announced.  

In parallel with warnings about the rural heritage sector, The 'Traditional Building Craft Skills'report for the North East highlights a serious shortage of skilled craftspeople in built heritage nationwide, which is particularly acute in the North East. For example, the estimated regional built heritage sector workforce in the last 12 months was 1061 (86,430 nationally). In the North East 40% of contractors have outstanding vacancies (significantly higher than the national average of 25%). With a lack of workers and trainers in the 30-45 age group, and the presence of many older workers heading for retirement there is a potential skills time-bomb.  An estimated 200 (3420 nationally) additional people are needed in the next 12 months.

The Northumberland National Park Authority's training scheme is the first practical move  in the regeneration of traditional craft building skills in the North East region.

The Duke of Gloucester, who is an architect with a profound interest in conservation, will be introduced to the National Park Rangers involved in the development of the Traditional Boundaries programme at the National Park enclosure at the Heritage Skills Fair where a new dry stone wall will be being built. He will be presented with a personalised dry stone walling hammer and the National Park Authority's seminal book: 'Archaeology in Northumberland National Park '.

His Royal Highness will also tour the demonstrators and exhibitors at the Heritage Skills Fair, taking in such skilled crafts as lime-slaking, lead work, stained glass windows, sash window joinery, gilding, stone masonry, stone roof slating and sand casting.

The North East Heritage Skills Fair takes place at the National Trust property of Wallington, near Morpeth, Northumberland.  A full professional and public programme of events and entertainment is planned. 

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