APPG round table on Heritage and Health 15th July, Houses of Parliament

We are contributing to a round table on heritage and health at the Houses of Parliament on 15th July as an example of good practice. Here is the agenda:


All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing

Heritage, Health and Wellbeing Round Table

15th  July 2019 4-6pm, Committee Room 1 House of Lords



Chair: Lord Howarth of Newport


Contributors: Practice

Laura Drysdale, Director, Restoration Trust + Chris Hogg

AJ Langer, Countess of Devon

Richard Osgood, Chief Archaeologist, MOD + Richard Bennett


Andy Pennington, Research Fellow, University of Liverpool

Giles Woodhouse, Chief Strategy Officer, Wessex Archaeology

Helen Chatterjee, Professor of Biology, UCL


Peter Ainsworth, Chair, The Heritage Alliance

Peter Aiers, Chief Executive, Churches Conservation Trust

Ben Cowell, Director General, Historic Houses

Liz Ellis, Policy Adviser Communities and Diversity, The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Dr Linda Monckton, Head of Wellbeing and Inclusion Strategy, Historic England

Brian Smith, Secretary General, Heritage Europe

Dr Heather Smith, Equality Specialist, National Trust

The overall question is: What are the challenges and opportunities for heritage to contribute to the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities?

We  will  hear  from  three  examples  of  good  practice  and  from  those  who  have  participated  in projects. This will be followed by a summary of current research and evidence. Then there will be a discussion of the policy context and what the next steps should be for policy makers.


Peter Ainsworth was appointed Chair of the Heritage Alliance in December 2018. Peter has over 30 years of commitment to public life. Following a successful career in banking, which he combined with serving as a local councillor, Peter entered Parliament in 1992. During his time as an MP Peter was the shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1998-2001) and then the shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural affairs (from 2001-2002, and again 2005-2009). Peter is currently Chair of the Big Lottery Fund, which thanks to National Lottery players gives grants for the improvement of communities across the UK. He is also Chairman of the Churches Conservation Trust.

Peter Aiers became Chief Executive in 2017 after being with The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) since 2007. Peter set up the Regeneration Team whose role was to find sustainable solutions to complex urban churches within its collection and to enable more community involvement in the care of its churches. Peter became Director for the South East in 2012 and Director of the North region in 2016. He also invented Champing™. After a career start at English Heritage, Peter has worked in local authority conservation officer and worked at the Diocese of London, pioneering new approaches to help the sustainability of historic churches before joining the CCT.

Richard Bennett is the Director of Breaking Ground Heritage (BGH). Richard spent 17 years in the Royal Marines, being medically discharged in 2011. Since his discharge, Richard has been involved in wellbeing projects, initially as a participant with Operation Nightingale. Richard has personally experienced the value of heritage in promoting his own wellbeing, subsequently leading to the development of BGH. BGH now take the lead on veteran’s wellbeing and outcome development for Operation Nightingale projects. Richard has published several articles and papers on wellbeing through heritage and led several sessions in international archaeological conferences on this subject. Richard is now working with Psychologists to develop his research further, making it more applicable across a wider spectrum of society.

Helen Chatterjee is a Professor of Biology in UCL Biosciences. Her research includes biodiversity conservation and evidencing the impact of natural and cultural participation on health. Her interdisciplinary research has won a range of awards including a Special Commendation from Public Health England for Sustainable Development and most recently the 2018 AHRC-Wellcome Health Humanities Medal and Leadership Award; she received an MBE in 2015 for Services to Higher Education and Culture. Helen has written three books ‘Touch in Museums: Policy and Practice in Object Handling’ (Berg Publications, 2008), ‘Museums, Health and Well-being’ (Routledge, 2013) and ‘Engaging the Senses: Object-Based Learning in Higher Education’ (Routledge, 2015) and over 50 research articles.

Ben Cowell has been the Director General of Historic Houses since 2016. Historic Houses represent 1,600 of the UK’s independently owned historic houses, castles and gardens, most of them still lived-in family homes but many offering forms of public access. Previously Ben worked for the National Trust (as Regional Director East of England and as the Deputy Director of External Affairs), and also for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. He is Deputy Chair of the Heritage Alliance, representing over 120 independent heritage organisations.

Laura Drysdale is Director of the Restoration Trust. Laura managed English Heritage collections conservation and was a senior manager at the Museums Libraries and Archives Council before supporting marginalised people at Stonham, Julian Support and Together. The Restoration Trust was founded in 2014 and runs culture therapy partnership projects helping people engage with heritage and culture so that their mental health improves. These include Human Henge (at Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site) and Burgh Castle Almanac (at Burgh Castle Roman Fort).

Liz Ellis works as Policy Advisor Communities and Diversity at National Lottery Heritage Fund since 2015,  where she leads on promoting inclusive practice across the heritage sector. Having trained as a mental health nurse, Liz studied BA and MA Fine Art at St Martins School of Art, London with subsequent national and international exhibitions. As Curator Community Learning at Tate Modern 2006-14,  Liz led strong collaborative local, national and international partnerships with NHS Trusts, mental health organisations, artists, universities and public policy colleagues. A commitment to social justice and the power of cultural rights informs her practice.

Chris Hogg: Following three years of seriously debilitating mental illness and waiting lists, and at the diagnosis of long standing PTSD, Chris joined the Human Henge programme at Stonehenge as a participant. At the start, Chris was unable to go into the outdoors, wrecking what had previously been an important part of his personal and professional life.  Human Henge provided a new context to the landscape, a way to address flashbacks and panic attacks in a gentle, supportive context and introducing archaeological expertise and new friends. From having a professional interest in outdoors and health, to being someone who desperately needed therapy, to becoming someone who has benefited from outdoors heritage therapy has been a revealing experience.

Allison Courtenay (‘AJ Langer’) is the Countess of Devon and lives with her family at Powderham, a historic 14th  century castle in Devon. Before moving to the UK in 2014, AJ enjoyed a 25-year career as an actress in Hollywood in television and film. AJ was diagnosed with a chronic pain condition at a young age and her journey has led her to be a vocal advocate for the mental and physical benefits of health and well-being through the arts. Since her arrival at Powderham, AJ has opened the heritage building and landscape to health and wellbeing of all sorts, encouraging yoga, tai chi, dementia care, and intergenerational arts and culture. AJ sees Powderham as a 700-year-old, start-up, social enterprise and her focus is ‘to facilitate health and happiness through education and the arts’ under the values of Community, Sustainability, Authenticity, Inclusivity and Adventure.

Linda Monckton is Head of Wellbeing and Inclusion Strategy at Historic England and works on the relationship between societal issues and the historic environment. Previously she led Historic England’s research programme for places of worship and worked as a senior architectural investigator. She studied architectural history and conservation and has published widely on medieval buildings, conservation law and practice, church closure and a range of faith buildings including British mosques and Quaker meeting houses. She was Hon. Director of the British Archaeological Association from 2008 to 2016 and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

Richard Osgood is the Senior Archaeologist within the Defence Infrastructure Organisation where he has worked since 2004. In 2011 he co-founded Operation Nightingale – using archaeological fieldwork to aid recovery and wellbeing of service personnel and wounded veterans – several of whom now have degrees or work in archaeology. He is responsible for managing and preserving monuments and archaeological sites within the entire Ministry of Defence estate. Previously, he was Research Assistant to Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe at Oxford University. Richard is a regular contributor on the BBC’s Digging for Britain and was voted Current Archaeology’s ‘Archaeologist of the Year’ in 2019.

Andy Pennington is a research fellow based in the Department of Public Health and Policy at the University of Liverpool. He specialises in evidence on the social determinants of health and wellbeing inequalities, and on approaches to systematic evidence-based decision-making. He managed the ESRC What Works Centre for Wellbeing Community Wellbeing Evidence Programme and led their review on the impact of historic places and assets on community wellbeing.

Brian Smith was appointed Secretary General of Heritage Europe by the Council of Europe in1999. He was City Planning Officer of Norwich from 1985 – 1998 and a founder member and past chairman of the English  Historic  Towns  Forum.  Heritage  Europe  represents  over  1000  historic  towns  in  32  European countries and is a founder member of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3. Brian was joint editor of the Alliance research report – “Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe” and co-author of the Horizon 2020 Expert Group on Cultural Heritage report “Getting Cultural Heritage to Work for Europe”

Heather Smith is the Equality Specialist for the National Trust for England, Wales and Northern Ireland focusing on advising on equality, diversity, and access for disabled people as employees, volunteers, members, and visitors across the National Trust’s diverse portfolio of historic properties. Heather has presented and published internationally on accessibility and the historic environment, is a trustee of disability charities, and chairs the Jodi awards for excellence in accessible digital media.  She holds a PhD in access to culture for blind and partially sighted people.  Recently, Heather was appointed Government Disability Sector Champion for Countryside and Heritage.

Giles Woodhouse is the Chief Strategy Officer at Wessex Archaeology and is working on sustainable diversification in public benefit services,  including heritage-based social  prescribing.  His previous role running  a  Recovery  Centre  for  Help  for  Heroes  involved  developing  services  to  aid  the  recovery  of wounded, injured and sick personnel and veterans.  In addition to supporting Operation Nightingale, he led a successful People’s Postcode Lottery funded heritage project partnership with the Canal River Trust and initiated an iron age roundhouse build project in the grounds of Tedworth House enabling beneficiaries to gain a sense of purpose, rediscover comradeship, build self-

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