Board meeting: September 2021

Board meeting: September 2021

Minutes from the Board of Trustees meeting on 29 September 2021 at the Piece Hall, Halifax. 


  • Simon Thurley, chair                                                   
  • Maria Adebowale-Schwarte, trustee
  • Kay Andrews, trustee
  • Claire Feehily, trustee (for items 10 and 11)
  • Ray Macfarlane, trustee


  • Mukesh Sharma, trustee
  • David Stocker, trustee


  • 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

Simon Thurley welcomed all attendees to the meeting.

Mukesh Sharma and David Stocker had sent apologies for the meeting. Claire Feehily would join the meeting remotely for items 10 and 11. The meeting would be inquorate for item 11, Saving Honresfield Library for the UK and therefore a decision could not be taken.

Staff left the room while the chair provided an update to the Board on the recruitment of the new chief executive.

1. Minutes of the Board meeting on 29 June 2021

The minutes were approved and signed by the chair as a true account of the meeting.

2. Matters arising

There were none.

3. Declarations of Interest

Simon Thurley declared an interest in item 11, Saving Honresfield Library for the UK. He was a trustee of the British Library, a member of the consortium seeking to acquire the Honresfield Library manuscripts.

Kay Andrews would chair the meeting for this item.

4. Chair's report and Stakeholder discussion

The chair thanked staff for all their work in organising the away day and Board meeting. He invited trustees to share their feedback on the two days.

The chair reported on his activity over the last couple of months which included two trips to Wales to visit projects. Recruitment of new trustees, committee members and the new chief executive was ongoing and a large part of his current activity.

5. Chief executive’s eeport

Ros Kerslake introduced the report.

Trustees congratulated Eilish McGuinness on her 25th anniversary at the Heritage Fund.

Ros Kerslake updated the Board on the recent reshuffle of the Cabinet and Ministerial positions across government.

6. EDI Review Task Force feedback from meeting held on 23 September 2021

Maria Adebowale-Schwarte reported that the last meeting of the EDI Review Task Force had been successful and that there was still a lot of energy around this important work. The meetings would continue on a quarterly basis.

A new Project Manager had recently been appointed and would be starting the following week. This role would be crucial to the success of the work going forward.

The tender for the RoSS digital framework would soon go out, with an increased emphasis on encouraging a wider range of tenderers from more diverse backgrounds and different lived experiences.

7. London estate

Colin Bailey gave an update on the London estate.

8. Year of Celebration 2022

Isabel Hunt introduced the paper which highlighted existing commitments to the Commonwealth Games 2022 and Coventry City of Culture 2021 and outlined options for commemorating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee 2022.

Mukesh Sharma, who was not in attendance, had asked that discussions around celebrations for Northern Ireland be postponed to a future meeting.

The Board noted that it was important to be able to operationalise this work alongside other business, as staff were already working at capacity.

9. Strategic Funding Framework (SFF) mid-term evaluation and review incl.

  • Financial review (incl. KPI update)

The SFF was still at a relatively early stage; £193million had been awarded through SFF to date. The long tail of SF4 grants was noticeable. This meant that, at the moment, the findings were sensitive to small movements in SFF awards. However, the review showed how SFF would continue to be tracked, including the share of awards by region.

It was noted that applications received demonstrated heritage outcomes more clearly than place-based or economic benefits. Further work and partnership intelligence was also needed on how SFF outcomes led to long-term change.

Officers noted that this work would be followed up by deep-dives on issues such as Land and Nature and Place at future Board meetings.

Colin Bailey gave an update on the SFF mid-term financial outlook.

Funding decisions: National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF)

10. NHMF Report

The Board noted the NHMF Report.

Vanessa Wells, Head of NHMF, provided an update on the current situation at the Ruskin, Lancaster University.

11. Saving Honresfield Library for the UK, Friends of the National Libraries

Simon Thurley declared an interest and left the room for this item. Kay Andrews chaired the meeting for this item.

Applicant: Friends of the National Libraries (FNL)

Grant request: Grant of £4,000,000, 33% of total project costs

FNL proposed to acquire the Honresfield Library, then distribute the manuscript material among members of a consortium. The consortium consisted of national institutions and literary house collections across Scotland and England that had established collections of works by the authors whose manuscripts would be acquired. These institutions would form partnerships to take ownership of author groups of manuscripts, an approach which would significantly increase public access and resources available for research. All the members of the consortium would contribute to a central digital resource to allow the manuscripts in their ownership to maintain a relationship. Thereby, ensuring that there was a virtual location where the library remained intact and could be accessed freely.

The NHMF Panel were unanimous in their support for the acquisition as of the highest priority for NHMF. Officers considered this an exceptional opportunity to support an outstanding literary collection, the acquisition of which would establish a national collection with widespread engagement potential. Grant award was recommended.

Trustees were supportive of the recommendation to award a grant of £4m (33% of total costs). As the meeting was not quorate, a formal between meetings decision would be taken, involving the absent trustees.

12. Any other business

There was none.