Board meeting: June 2021

Board meeting: June 2021

Summary minutes of the NHMF Board of Trustees meeting on 29 June 2021 at 9.00 am on Microsoft Teams


  • Simon Thurley, Chair
  • Maria Adebowale-Schwarte, Trustee
  • Kay Andrews, Trustee
  • Jim Dixon, Trustee
  • Claire Feehily, Trustee 
  • Ray Macfarlane, Trustee
  • Mukesh Sharma, Trustee
  • David Stocker, Trustee


Committee Chairs:

  • Susan Beardsmore, Committee Chair, England, Midlands and East
  • Stephen Boyce, Committee Chair, England, London and South


  • Tiffany Hunt, Committee Chair, England, North

Welcomes and Introduction

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.

DCMS had confirmed the reappointments of David Stocker, Maria Adebowale-Schwarte and Claire Feehily who would remain in their roles for a further 18 months on top of their current six month interim extensions.

He welcomed the new Senior Governance Manager to the meeting and noted apologies from Tiffany Hunt, Chair of the Committee for England, North.

Simon confirmed that Claire Feehily would be chairing the Heritage Horizon Awards meeting. He had declared a conflict of interest with Save Mavisbank as his wife was the Chief Executive of the Landmark Trust, a formal project partner in the application.

The Area Chair vacancies were now being advertised. Simon encouraged colleagues to use their networks and contacts to encourage people to apply.

Minutes of the Board meeting on 12 May 2021

The minutes were agreed to be a true account of the meeting, subject to a minor change on the wording around Sue Beardsmore’s update from the Midlands & East.

Declarations of Interest

There were none.

Chair's report and Stakeholder discussion

Simon Thurley highlighted that he had recently attended a number of Committee meetings and looked forward to joining more in September. He noted that a lot of members had been on the Committees for a long time and that the upcoming recruitment campaigns provided a good opportunity to refresh the Committees and bring in new members.

Simon asked the Committee Chairs to provide updates to the Board from their respective areas and countries:

Ray Macfarlane, Chair of the Committee for Scotland:

  • a number of strong applications were now starting to come forward.
  • Visitor attractions and galleries were beginning to open back up.
  • A new Minister for Culture, Jenny Gilruth, had been appointed.
  • Ray reported that she had had a meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Justice.

Kay Andrews, Chair of the Committee for Wales:

  • Kay highlighted that Wales also had a new Culture Minister, with whom Kay would meet in the next couple of weeks.
  • New partnerships had been established with Natural Resources Wales.
  • A small grant for SSSIs had been approved by the Welsh government for nature projects around conservation, species and peatlands.
  • Expressions of Interest were coming forward, albeit slowly.

Mukesh Sharma, Chair of the Committee for Northern Ireland:

  • There was still political instability in Northern Ireland.
  • The ongoing issues around HMS Caroline would be taken up by the next incoming Minister.
  • DAERA in Northern Ireland had already committed to annual funding equivalent to the Green Recovery Challenge Fund in England. Figures were still under discussion.
  • Funding released for the commemoration of the NI centenary was coming to fruition and receiving good coverage on social media.

Stephen Boyce, Interim Chair of the Committee for England, London & South:

  • Stephen reported that a number of openings had recently taken place in the area, including Museum of the Home, Dorset Museum and RHS Wisley. These openings would present an opportunity to re-connect with the public, grantees, volunteers and National Lottery players face to face.
  • Stephen noted that the stakeholder engagement discussion later in the meeting would be very timely and represented a great opportunity to re-position ourselves in the public consciousness.

Sue Beardsmore, Chair of the Committee for England, Midlands & East:

  • Sue highlighted a number of openings, including Nottingham Castle, Derby Silk Mill and Buxton Crescent.
  • Sue attended the Coventry City of Culture Green Futures launch programme, and commended the Midlands and East team for their assistance with this.
  • Organisations were attempting to stimulate activity in under-served areas with projects centred around heritage and culture, which was encouraging to see.

David Stocker, Trustee and Committee member for England, North:

  • David highlighted that political changes were happening in the North and noted that the Area Director for the North was well integrated with metro mayors and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).
  • Lots of openings had taken place and the team was working really well to cope with the sudden flow of new work.
  • Grant-in-aid work had revealed considerable difference in the infrastructure in the North compared to other regions in the UK. Detailed research would be needed on the way in which applications came forward, from whom, and what the barriers were to people applying in the North.

Chief Executive’s Report including update on Future Parks Accelerator

Ros Kerslake introduced the report.

City of Culture 2025

The Board were asked to take a decision in principle to commit to support the successful UK City of Culture 2025 with a grant of up to £3m. The Board discussed previous grants given to Cities of Culture and endorsed the approach outlined in the paper.

DECISION: The Board confirmed their in-principle commitment to offer up to £3m for the successful UK City of Culture 2025 bidder.

Future Parks Accelerator (FPA)

The Board noted that £2million was already committed to the Future Parks Accelerator for 2021-22. In order to proceed with delivering the funds this financial year, the Board were asked to delegate the budget allocation to the FPA Board.

Maria Adebowale-Schwarte was on the Board of the FPA and confirmed that it was an effective Board with excellent knowledge and expertise in parks and green spaces.

Trustees noted that the profile of the FPA was not well known and that it was important to work on communications.

DECISION: The Board agreed to delegate £2m identified in the agreed 2021/22 grant investment budget to the Future Parks Accelerator Board and that the FPA Board would continue to regularly update the NLHF Board on progress and decisions made.

In addition, Ros highlighted some other key activity:

  • The successful event to celebrate the NHMF 40th anniversary and Simon’s arrival as Chair.
  • NHMF were committing £20m to support heritage assets across the UK at risk due to the pandemic. DCMS had also now announced £20m commitment to the Cultural Assets Fund. This would be delivered as a single UK wide fund to support nationally important heritage that is at risk due to the impact of COVID-19.
  • A £40m commitment had been made to the third round of Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage which would provide additional funds to those who were already in receipt of grants and additional support for organisations in distress.

Audit and Risk Committee feedback from meeting on 14 June 2021 including draft minutes of the meeting

Claire Feehily, Chair of Audit and Risk Committee, highlighted:

  • The Annual Report and Accounts showed a really sound performance from The Fund.
  • The Internal Auditors endorsement of the organisation’s performance.
  • The interesting report on the organisation’s culture work. It was important to think about how this work would move forward in a post-Covid world.

The Board noted the minutes.

Risk Assessment

Colin Bailey, Executive Director, Business Services, presented the risk update.

  • There remained a significant degree of risk exposure.
  • There had been a very good discussion between National Lottery directors and DCMS on the licence renewal, which had been reassuring.
  • Workloads and pressures continued with the introduction of CRF3 funding.
  • The latest check-in survey showed that staff engagement remained high.
  • There would be the opportunity to return to offices from next month.
  • There had been a number of staff referrals to occupational health for mental health concerns.
  • The latest IMS update highlighted that good progress was being made and milestones achieved.

Kay Andrews noted that Brexit had been deemed a closed issue and that the cost of this was, in fact, larger and more unpredictable than anticipated so it should still be factored in. Colin explained that risk was internally focussed around procurement issues, which had dissipated. He acknowledged that there were increases in construction costs and supplies in the external environment, but at this stage it was difficult to accurately articulate that risk.

Simon Thurley highlighted inflationary pressures on metals and key building materials of 120–150%. There were also labour shortages in some areas, resulting in a reduced pool of people willing to take on work. Tender returns were coming in much higher than expected. Eilish McGuinness, Executive Director, Business Delivery, noted that the Central team was looking at it but the full impact was not yet known.

Claire Feehily reported that she had attended an update meeting on the IMS project and was aware of concerns about how the IMS was being experienced by external customers. She reassured the Board that the project team were addressing these issues. Claire encouraged Committee chairs to capture any feedback and ensure it was fed back to the project team so that we could act upon it and build confidence in this new system.

Annual Report and Accounts

Colin Bailey, Executive Director for Business Services, introduced the Annual Report and Accounts.

The National Heritage Memorial Fund and National Lottery Heritage Fund report and accounts had been presented to Audit & Risk Committee for comments and the Executive now sought Board approval. There was more disclosure in the NHMF accounts this year due to the new funding streams.

Colin thanked the Director of Investment and Head of Finance for their work on the accounts.

Trustees commented that the governance statistics in the accounts were very impressive and noted the excellent presentation of the NHMF report and accounts.

The Board approved the Annual Reports and Accounts.

Stakeholder Engagement

Isabel Hunt, Executive Director of Business Innovation and Insight, introduced the item.

Insight work had shown that a key way to raise our profile was through acknowledgement at projects. The new branding refresh was now ready to launch and could help with this.

The team had set three objectives to focus our stakeholder engagement:

  • To engage and mobilise stakeholders to support delivery of our corporate strategy;
  • To build and strengthen networks, partnerships & collaborations;
  • To maximise stakeholder trust and confidence in The Fund as a funder, partner and expert voice.

The Board thanked the team for the paper and asked for an updated, shorter paper to be presented at a future meeting.

Funding decisions: National Lottery Heritage Fund (grant increases):

Norwich Castle: Gateway to Medieval England; HG-14-08698

Request: Grant Increase of £1,372,100 to make a total grant of £10,128,900

Project: The project would remodel the Grade 1 Listed Keep at Norwich Castle Museum, improving the visitor offer to better display and utilise the building and interpret the combined medieval collections of the Castle Museum and the British Museum. The intention would be to create a world class heritage offer that draws visitors to the Museum and Norwich, establishing a national centre for castle interpretation. Alongside a programme of activities the project would increase museum floor space by 118 sq. metres, re-interpreting the building and collections, removing later alterations, re-instating spaces, and improving access, circulation and visitor facilities.

The project had been granted a delivery award of £8,756,800 (66% of eligible costs) in September 2018.

The request was primarily a consequence COVID-19 impacts and delays alongside other costs arising out of detailed design, planning requirements, survey, site conditions and higher than anticipated costs.

The Board awarded a grant increase of £1,372,100 to make a total grant of £10,128,900 (60%).

Bywyd Newydd i’r Hen Goleg / New Life for Old College

Request: Grant Increase of £1,378700 to make a total grant of £11,111,000

Project: This project would bring new life to Old College as a major new centre for culture, learning and enterprise. The project would safeguard a Grade I listed building, considered to be the birthplace of university education in Wales and which dominates the southern end of Aberystwyth’s seafront. The new multi-purpose space would provide community, heritage and education spaces in a disadvantaged area of rural Wales. An extensive programme of community engagement would also be delivered.

The project had been awarded a delivery phase grant of £9,732,300 (35% of total project costs) in December 2019.

A grant increase was requested due to capital cost increases.

The Board awarded a grant increase of £1,378,700 to make a total grant of £11,111,000 (36%)

Funding decisions: National Heritage Memorial Fund:

NHMF Report

Vanessa Wells, Head of NHMF, highlighted:

  • The NHMF Covid Response was announced on 25 July with the £20m Cultural Assets Fund and £20m from NHMF. This would be delivered as a single UK wide fund to support nationally important heritage that is at risk due to the impact of COVID-19.

Dundee Industrial Heritage Ltd - Urgent conservation work to RRS Discovery

Request: Grant of £408,768 (94% of total costs)

Project: The project would carry out emergency repairs to RRS Discovery. These would stabilise the vessel and prevent further damage to its fabric and structure. This would represent a standalone initial phase to safeguard the ship, whilst fundraising and planning is progressed a project to completely restore Discovery. The extent of these works would secure the fabric of the vessel, removing the immediate risk. If funding for the subsequent restoration project were to be delayed then these works would prevent further deterioration until such time as they were able to proceed.

The Board awarded a grant of £408,768 (94% of total costs).

Any other business

The Chair thanked Jim Dixon for his huge contribution as Trustee over the past seven years, including his contribution to Audit & Risk Committee, Parks for People Panel, Committee for the North West, Committee for Northern Ireland and the Landscape Partnership programme.

Ros Kerslake added her own thanks to Jim for his commitment to The Fund and wished him well for the future.