Prime Minister has appointed Dr Simon Thurley CBE as Chair of National Heritage Memorial Fund and National Lottery Heritage Fund

Dr. Simon Thurley is Provost of Gresham College, London’s oldest higher education establishment, founded in 1597 to give free public lectures in the City. He serves on the Sponsor Board and the Delivery Authority for the Restoration and Renewal of the Houses of Parliament, is chairman of Lloyd-Webber Theatres’ restoration of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and is a trustee of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation and the British Library. He has been patron of the London Parks and Garden Trust since 2004, and played a role in setting up the Canal and River Trust, of which he was a trustee until 2015.

Between 2002 and 2015 he was chief executive of English Heritage responsible for the National Heritage Collection of 420 sites including Stonehenge and Dover Castle, as well as for the National Heritage Protection system, including the listing of buildings. For five years from 1997 he was director of the Museum of London, the world’s largest city museum and its archaeological unit MoLAS. For eight years in the 1990s he was Curator and Surveyor of the Fabric at Historic Royal Palaces leading various projects including the Restoration of the Privy Garden at Hampton Court. As a historian Simon has written thirteen books including a history of English Architecture, Building England and the story of heritage protection, Men from the Ministry. In 2011 he was made CBE for services to heritage, he is married with two children and lives in Norfolk.

Simon Thurley said:

It is a great privilege to be appointed as Chair at a critical time for the heritage sector. The National Lottery Heritage Fund will play a vital role in helping organisations rebuild and thrive following the COVID-19 pandemic and I look forward to playing a part in that.

I also look forward to learning more about the extraordinary breadth of work The National Lottery Heritage Fund supports, from conserving natural habitats to protecting and celebrating heritage at the heart of our communities.

My career has been shaped by a strong belief in the power of the UKs heritage to positively contribute to people’s lives and the places where they live, work and visit. To have the opportunity to chair The National Lottery Heritage Fund which shares this vision is an honour.

Ros Kerslake, CEO of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

I am delighted to welcome Simon Thurley as our new Chair.

Simon will join us at a pivotal time as the UK’s heritage sector emerges from one of the greatest crises it has ever faced. Heritage has the potential to make a substantial contribution to the UK’s post-COVID recovery, making communities better places to live, boosting local economies, creating jobs and supporting personal wellbeing.

Through his depth of knowledge and leadership experience in our sector, he will make a major contribution to helping us deliver on our ambitious agenda to support the heritage sector through this to a stronger and more resilient future. Investing in our heritage is for the benefit of everyone in the UK.

I would like to extend grateful thanks to René Olivieri who as interim Chair since December 2019 has played a critical role in steering the Fund over the last challenging year.

René Olivieri said:

I am proud to have held the role of interim Chair since December 2019. My time in this position has been defined by the coronavirus pandemic and the incredible response that my colleagues at The National Lottery Heritage Fund have coordinated to support the heritage sector at this crucial time.

Within a short space of time we delivered a £50 million Heritage Emergency Fund that helped struggling heritage organisations when they needed it most, as well as distributing significant government funding. I offer my congratulations to Simon Thurley and look forward to seeing the Fund lead the heritage sector’s recovery under his guidance.

This role is remunerated at £40,000 per annum. This appointment has been made in accordance with the Cabinet Office’s Governance Code on Public Appointments. The appointments process is regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. The Government’s Governance Code requires that any significant political activity undertaken by an appointee in the last five years is declared. This is defined as holding office, public speaking, making a recordable donation or candidature for election. Dr Thurley has not declared any activity.

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