What does Heritage Angel do?
I aim to help create great visitor experiences working on new museums and exhibitions, tourism projects, heritage-led regeneration and destination development projects. I want to help people appreciate our heritage and think more carefully about it. Ultimately it’s about engaging people and winning their hearts and minds. It’s a lovely job – you have to be infinitely curious.
How did you end up in this line of work?
It was an accident. At school, I was a perfect example of someone who didn’t know what to do and landed on studying archaeology at York. I was a student digger on the Coppergate archaeological site which uncovered the 1,000 year old remains of the Viking city and is the basis for the Jorvik Viking Centre. At the time it amazed me how many people simply came to watch us dig and how people respond to – and can be engaged – in our history. This sparked my interest in how you communicate something that, at face value, can sometimes look quite dull.
How did Heritage Angel come about?
In my career I built up a large design consultancy that focused on promoting heritage. But after 20 years of managing other people I realised that I really missed the contact I used to have with the clients. So I decided to go back to working on my own and collaboratively with other people.
It wasn’t an easy decision to give up my company, but I knew I needed a change. It took me a year to create a handover plan and once I’d got that in place it was a huge weight off my shoulders.
Initially I worked freelance and then decided I wanted to build a distinctive brand for myself. A friend commented that I was always helping people out and giving good advice, so suggested I call my new business the Heritage Angel.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt going it alone?
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt to apply is in saying ‘no’ to some opportunities. I have to bid for all my work because they are generally publicly funded projects. So I need to think very carefully about whether a project is for me and if I have sufficient capacity to deliver it. Knowing when to walk away is as important as working hard to win new contracts.
It’s also important not to work yourself into the grave. You can work all hours but one of the reasons I work for myself is so I can have a better work/life balance and work flexibly – sometimes in the Business Club, sometimes at home, or going out to meet people on site.
What project has given you the most pleasure?
The piece of work I’m most proud of is actually one of the smaller projects I was asked to help with for some spectacular ancient rock art in a remote part of Saudi Arabia. My role was to help the government prepare a nomination – which was ultimately accepted – for the rock art to be inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The preservation of the rock art is amazing and you can trace the desertification of the area through the images depicted, demonstrating climate change within a few thousand years. It’s an incredibly rare and important record. I’m very proud to have played a part in the project.
How are you settling into the Hiscox Business club?
I love it! I live outside York so it’s nice to be able to get into town and have a working environment where I can meet other creative people. I’ve already met a copywriter who I think I might be able to work together with. There is great diversity here in terms of skills and knowledge, which is good to draw upon. Clients and colleagues are keen to meet me here and have a look inside the Hiscox York building.
What does the future hold?
I’m keen to build my brand through networking and social media, and collaborate with more creative businesses. I’ve realised that I enjoy change. Now that I’ve taken risks that were beneficial, it’s given me confidence to explore new ideas and innovate in a niche market that needs high level skills and expertise.
To find out more, go to the Heritage Angel