Sussex alumna gives talk on work of English Heritage
A distinguished Sussex graduate, Baroness (Kay) Andrews, returned to campus last month to speak about the work of English Heritage, which she has chaired since 2009.
Members of Suss-Ex, the association for former staff of the University of Sussex, gathered over drinks in Bramber House on 11 November to hear from Baroness Andrews about the diversity of English Heritage’s work.
It runs more than 400 historic properties, employing many specialists. “If you want to know about Henry the Second’s stonemasons, we’ve got people who can tell you about them,” said Baroness Andrews.
English Heritage’s properties range from prehistoric flint factories to nuclear bunkers, and have 11 million visitors a year; it represents one of the country’s largest industries.
Recent cuts have affected the range of work that can be done, but one response to such difficulties has been to develop more imaginative ways of interpreting the past to visitors, to bring it to life for them – so that more money can be raised to support fragile buildings. (“The gift shops apparently do a roaring trade in chain mail,” reports Professor Jennifer Platt, who attended the event.)
Its priorities also include the use of preservation to encourage economic regeneration, with some notable successes in former industrial areas.
Baroness Andrews became chair of English Heritage via 15 years as a Parliamentary researcher and seven years as a policy adviser to Neil Kinnock MP (whose Welsh origins she shares) when he was Leader of the Opposition. Next she served as director of the charity Education Extra, until a life peerage in 2002 led to government posts in the House of Lords.
Baroness Andrews’ links with Sussex include an MA in Political Sociology and a PhD in International Relations in the mid 1960s, followed by a research fellowship in the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) from 1968-70. She was a member of the University’s governing body, Council, from 2001-02.
Like all former employees of the University, Baroness Andrews is eligible to join the Suss-Ex club. Membership of the association - which also organizes other activities such as group visits to the theatre and to local sights, as well as talks - is free.