IHBC celebrates learning, insights, networking & more at 2024’s ‘addictive’ Reading School on ‘Place & Building Care…’: Interim update, thanks & signposts to ‘IHBC CPD, despite purdah’

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As IHBC’s 2024 Reading School has (mostly) ended, the IHBC offers more thanks to speakers, volunteers, supporters, participants and Sponsors –Principal Sponsor MFL Insurance Group and Reception Sponsor Velux – with an interim update on #IHBCReading2024 past and future.

…[#IHBCReading2024] demonstrated  how careful management of finance policy and people can be used to produce positive conservation outcomes….

IHBC Chair David McDonald said: ‘It was a real privilege to be able to attend the 2024 Annual School in Reading, and to chair the morning session of the Friday Day School which enjoyed more than 250 delegates in-person and online, on the day and via recordings.’

‘The in-person and virtual event certainly delivered what it promised – insights and updates on ‘Place & Building Care – Finance, policy & people in conservation practice’.  It demonstrated  how careful management of finance policy and people can be used to produce positive conservation outcomes. Like many delegates, I was also pleasantly surprised to find out how much Reading had to offer in terms of its historic environment, from the remains of the medieval abbey to the wealth of Victorian buildings by Alfred Waterhouse.’

‘I’m very grateful to IHBC staff and South Branch members who worked very hard to make this such an inspiring event’.

Branch and School Committee Chair Alison Davidson, said: ‘IHBC’s Reading School was my ‘swan song’ pending my stepping down from the South Branch Committee (after twenty-odd years) and handing over the reins to the very capable Emilia McDonald as chair and a number of other dedicated members.’

‘Putting together a three day conference is a big achievement which definitely takes team work.  The South Branch Committee was able to contribute most in terms of suggesting a cohesive selection of speakers, tours and sites to visit.  Local knowledge is powerful in this respect.  Attending meetings in the run up to the conference was made much easier than before because we are all so used to the powers of virtual connection, and it forced us to catch up with each other, which is no bad thing!’

‘But for those of us who attended the conference in person, it was a great reminder of how important it is to meet up, swap ideas and stories and to have fun as well as to continue our learning.’

‘The bulk of the organisation and logistics work is now carried out by the National Office, but the local committee is essential, and the efforts put in at the front end were rewarded with an excellent Annual School.’

IHBC’s Annual Gus Astley Student Awards Judge John Fidler said: ‘Despite the charming Arctic weather we all enjoyed at the IHBC Summer School in ‘radiant’ Reading (somewhat different from that which I enjoy daily in Marina Del Rey, California). I was honoured to present both the 2023 Gus Astley Student Award and the Institute’s Booth-Bird prize to Tom Goodwin and Hannah Beaman respectively at the annual conference dinner.

The fledgling practitioners, now gainfully employed with specialist conservation practices Purcell and Insall Associates, were thus elevated by the IHBC awards to a truly national ‘listed’ status. And, speaking from the perspective of being myself a long-standing ‘Scheduled Ancient Monument’, I can state categorically that career trajectories that start with student applications for scholarships and awards can indeed be rewarded with prizes and conference attendances (like this one) that change lives – meeting peers, future collaborators, mentors and even partners – that help define and focus life’s pathways ahead. I wish those commended on the night and the two bright young awardees all success in their chosen fields and best wishes for long and rewarding careers, through membership within the IHBC.’

IHBC Director Sean O’Reilly, lead for the IHBC’s National said: ‘We had an exceptionally extensive and complex suite of learning on offer this year.  We have finally consolidated our new School format around tightly-themed professional learning and CPD, itself tied to specific core practice standards while being accessible to both online and in-persona delegates.’

‘This experience has established the model that we will roll out for future Schools.  Now, too, delegates, colleagues, networks and even sponsors can see how they really will get the best quality support for interdisciplinary conservation practice at the best possible price!’

‘This year we included within our suite of School-linked learning – much accessible for free, or from as little as £30+VAT – a diverse body of expertise linked to IHBC’s practice-based ‘Competences’, around Finance and Policy.  For those lucky enough to attend the Full School tours, Reading served as the real life, case-study site against which such issues could be understood and interrogated.  The suite of IHBC CPD learning and support for delegates and stakeholders of all backgrounds – from specialist professional to community interests – encompassed:

  • Reading School’s ‘Pre-School’ webinars with a local and professional focus, as summarised HERE, led by Angharad Hart, IHBC’s Training etc lead, which garnered:
  • IHBC’s MarketPlace:LEARN, with the programme draft HERE and reported HERE, which this year was led by volunteer Dr Deborah Mays, IHBC, currently Director designate of the charity The Lutyens Trust
    • Our joining instructions reached 267 people across School delegates and up to 62 signatories to our ‘open access, all welcome’ invitation to non-delegates. Then 57 attendees participated in 90 minutes+ of learning and networking, on topics as diverse as sheep’s wool, bats and climate change
  • The Virtual Day School, for online delegates, with CPD and learning plans outlined in our dedicated CPD Circular as reported HERE, which included:
    • The pre-School programme and MarketPlace:LEARN options noted above
    • Virtual access to and supported digital participation in the Day School for more than 150 delegates
    • And through X (Twitter) generated over 23,000 engagements on the day, with more in advance and to come on other digital and social media platforms
  • The Day School, for in-person delegates, with, later on, options to join the Thursday Reception, sponsored by Velux, and Friday Dinner
    • with more 100 delegates in attendance
    • A range of question and answer options, centred on pre-School submissions and an end-of-day session taking questions across in-person and virtual delegates
    • Talks planned and to come from a wide variety of experts and practitioners, as listed HERE and as analysed in our Day School CPD Circular and our Day and Virtual School CPD Circular update HERE, both of which took account of the post-purdah re-arrangements
    • Individual – and insightful – responses to morning and afternoon sessions from Fergus Rolfe, as ‘Fit for the Future’ Manager, on its behalf, and Christopher Maidment on behalf of RTPI SE
  • The Full School programme, which included all the above – including Dinner and Reception options – as well as a suite of tours organised between the IHBC’s National Office and the South Branch School Committee led by Branch Chair, Alison Davidson. Tour options ranged from the Reading High Street HAZ to, for a privileged few early-bookers, a visit to nearby Mapledurham and the operations and expertise of heritage contractors Owlsorth IJP, and including the work and shared dendro laboratory of one of its Directors, Dan Miles

‘And there’s more to come as we look to after-school webinars focused on the lead speakers who could not present  due to the sudden purdah, Adala Leeson and Charles Mynors, as explained HERE.’

‘The Day School and wider Full School programme was as ever, splendidly hosted by IHBC’s Chair David McDonald, who chaired the vast majority of this intense and diverse programme.’

David was also helpfully assisted by, especially, IHBC President Mike Brown who offered his insights as Thursday Reception host-compere, welcoming Andrew Try, His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of the Royal County of Berkshire, among others.  David was also helped in the Day School role by its chair for the afternoon, Emilia McDonald, vice-Chair of the South Branch and member of its School Committee.

Particular thanks are offered to longstanding IHBC School Principal Sponsor MFL Insurance Group, which has demonstrated its special commitment through invaluable support for the programme, including through its in-person stall at the Day School.  Their partnership with the IHBC offering Professional Indemnity insurance – all specifically designed to meet the requirements of our members – has been a particular benefit to those IHBC members whose interdisciplinary practices and standards lie outside the norms more familiar to ordinary insurance providers.

We were also delighted that Thursday Reception sponsor Velux was also able to host and explore at the Day School a demonstration model representing some of their new designs.

Interim feedback (some adapted from tweets) includes:

  • Your Day School is addictive! Well done..
  • Had a lovely evening at the MarketPlace yesterday- the official start of #IHBCReading2024…. lots on so it’s always difficult to choose!
  • Enjoying wise heritage & conservation advice from Gerard Lemos, English Heritage, at #IHBCReading2024, in Alfred Waterhouse’s beautiful Town Hall.
  • Welcome address by Gerard Lemos highlighting the importance of public understanding of conservation work. Promoting volunteering opportunities to increase public engagement…
  • Thanks to @IHBCtweet and all speakers of #IHBCReading2024 for an enjoyable day!
  • Just finished #IHBCReading2024. Brilliant few days learning from diverse speakers from both academia & practice in the #heritage sector, great tours, catching up with old friends & making new ones. Massive thanks to @IHBCtweet and all volunteers for a fantastic Annual School.

All involved in delivering the School are again sincerely thanked for their generous contributions.  Both our thanks and our debt to all involved in the programme – volunteers, consultants, staff and delegates – are substantial and heartfelt!

All delegates at the Virtual School on Friday 14 June – online and in person – will have the opportunity to request a link to access recordings  and catch up on all or part again and as suits.

If you want to see select recordings from our Reading School, but did not join as a delegate before, you can still sign up and access a very full day of CPD on recording, from only £30+VAT by signing up HERE.

Keep up to date on IHBC and sector news by signing up for the IHBC’s FREE news service, our NewsBlogs etc, HERE, with #IHBCReading2024 updates listed HERE

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