English Heritage announces social policy expert Gerard Lemos as its next Chair

Gerard Lemos CMG – a former Chair of the British Council, the founding Chair of the Akram Khan dance company, and the current Chair of the Agency Board of Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service – will be the next Chair of English Heritage, the charity announced today (Thursday 30 June 2022).

Mr Lemos is also Director at the social research company, Lemos&Crane, and the author of a number of publications examining the role communities can play in our society and how to support vulnerable people, including The Communities We Have Lost and Can Regain (with Michael Young) and The Good Prison: Conscience, Crime and Punishment. He is a Trustee at the Donmar Warehouse and chairs the Hofesh Shechter dance company as well as the Warburg Renaissance Steering Group at the University of London.

Lemos has been involved in renovating historic buildings throughout his entire career, in particular during his roles within the housing and community regeneration sectors. His heritage experience includes his years as a Trustee at Dartington Hall in Devon where this medieval house and listed garden became a centre for progressive learning in the arts, ecology and social justice. Born in India, Lemos grew up in Croydon and studied History and English at the University of York. He divides his time between Devon and London.

Lemos will take up the post in January 2023 and will succeed English Heritage’s current Chair, Sir Tim Laurence, whose second term of office comes to an end in December this year.

In accepting the role, Gerard Lemos said: “I am honoured at the prospect of chairing English Heritage and very much looking forward to working with the board, Kate Mavor and her team.

“The charity cares for a unique collection of stone circles and castles, abbeys and historic houses, right across the villages and towns, the countryside and cities of England. Taken together, this collection is a national museum of England, with a site in – or near to – almost every community. It is a collection that should be cherished and it is a collection that tells the story of this country. As the future Chair of English Heritage, I want to help everyone feel part of England’s story.”

Kate Mavor, English Heritage’s Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to welcome Gerard to English Heritage as our new Chair from next year. His experience will be of great benefit to the charity. Our historic sites are often important physical landmarks within communities but we also want to better knit those sites into the lives of local people. We’ve made big strides in this area but Gerard’s insight will be invaluable as we make even stronger connections with surrounding communities.

“All of us at English Heritage are hugely grateful to Sir Tim for his dedicated leadership of the charity – we would not be where we are today without him.”

Sir Tim Laurence, English Heritage’s Chair, said: “Since English Heritage became a charity in 2015, we have opened up more and more of our sites to the public and shared more of their stories than ever before. Most importantly, we are investing more money in conserving the sites in our care than before we became a charity.

“We weathered the pandemic and have grown our membership and visitors to record numbers.

“It has been an enormous privilege to serve and support this talented and innovative charity in its early years. I’m so pleased that next year I will pass the baton to someone with Gerard Lemos’ experience. I wish him all the best in leading English Heritage on the next part of its journey.”

English Heritage cares for more than 400 historic buildings, monuments and sites right across England – from the world-famous prehistoric stone circle Stonehenge to grand medieval castles such as Dover Castle, from Roman forts on Hadrian’s Wall to a Cold War bunker in York. The charity also looks after the London Blue Plaques Scheme which has been linking people to places in the capital for over 150 years.

English Heritage welcomes more than 10 million visitors to its sites every year, has more than 1.2 million Members, 2,300 staff and 3,700 volunteers. The Chair is the most senior volunteer at English Heritage, heads the Board of Trustees, and supports and guides the charity’s Chief Executive Kate Mavor and her team in the fulfilment of English Heritage’s purpose, namely to look after the sites in its care and to inspire people to value, visit and enjoy them.

Set up as a public body in 1983, in April 2015 English Heritage was given charitable status. As part of this new freedom to operate under licence outside of Government control, the charity received a grant of £80m towards conserving and investing in the collection of sites. This funding was supplemented by a tapering annual revenue subsidies which came to an end in March this year.