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Project information

Poltimore Opportunities: building heritage skills

At Poltimore House Trust we are looking to build on our growing reputation for supporting charitable enterprises. The core project supports a conservation construction skills hub at one of Devon’s key historic houses ‘at risk’ to provide accredited NVQ training leading to good jobs.

April 2014 - July 2018

Charity information: The Poltimore House Trust

The Poltimore House Trust logo
  • Need


    Heritage buildings need more craftspeople skilled in traditional techniques to repair and care for
    them. Unemployed young people need opportunities to develop their talents. Construction trainees and graduates need on-site experience with historic buildings. Poltimore
    House itself needs skilled craftspeople to help bring it back to new life. Trainees and trainers need a 'living classroom' where they can work together to create new careers and new conservation craftspeople.


    Our experience shows that conservation skills gained from working on real projects with
    experienced conservation builders transforms lives. Our project will motivate a new generation of conservation craftspeople through real-life renovation of a building to create a heritage skills training hub, built for the future. Your kind donation will directly and positively fund the future prospects of aspiring people and provide new skills to help conserve heritage sites throughout the country.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Help fund 12 individual places at the Poltimore House conservation skills hub


    » To work with trainers and trainees to define effective approaches to use of ‘real-life learning’ to gain experience and heritage conservation skills
    » To work with local colleges and the conservation building industry to create the apprenticeship scheme.

    What success will look like

    Success will be shown through finding funding, with donations and support from heritage bodies to provide for new twelve trainees to engage with the programme over three years

    Aim 2

    To provide an inspiring environment for trainees to develop crucial craftsmanship skills


    » To inspire trainees to make the learning environment suitable for their own needs and that of others, through exercising imagination and creativity

    What success will look like

    Success will be...shown through on-site workshops; inspirational schemes of work; case studies for dissemination to other projects; an accessible, active website.

    Aim 3

    To enhance long time career prospects


    » We will work closely with education and training providers and with national organisations to raise aspirations and provide effective career routes

    What success will look like

    Success will be through quality of engagement with employers, and the mapping of varied placements and career opportunities

    Aim 4

    To ensure that we grow the necessary experience to protect our heritage for future generations


    » We will develop the profile of the project through open days and publicity to create a model which can be transferred and applied to new situations

    What success will look like

    Success will be through the recording of the project and providing opportunities for others to take part to support the understanding of good heritage practices.

  • Impact


    Long term the heritage industry gains a new source of trained craftspeople skilled and experienced in heritage conservation building methods. Long-term life changes for vulnerable individuals enables them to win sustainable jobs and support their families. Long term our project succeeds through an new business model shown through the successful skills hub to inspire other projects to develop the model. Long term this sustainable model enables high-quality renovation of Poltimore House.


    Skilled craftspeople unwilling to engage? We minimised this risk by developing the concept in partnership with a conservation building firm dedicated to passing on experience.
    Insufficient demand from potential learners? An earlier project working with volunteers from a charity for the homeless has shown sustained demand and ambition for longer and fuller learning opportunities.
    Insufficient funds? Fundraising partnerships offer greater range of potential funders.


    We will establish emailable quarterly report, with regular updates and case studies on the website. Annual reception will celebrate project with donors, sponsors and stakeholders, with update tours and opportunities to meet participants.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £25,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £2,500 Project development work Development of the model for experience-led learning and skills through workshops and pilot sessions
      £2,500 Business model development Development of the business model for sustainable funding through establishing successful social ent
      £5,000 Plans and specifications Trainers, volunteers, and advisors to work with design team to create specifications for the HSLH
      £5,000 Salary costs Project contributions to salaries for mentors/trainers and project management
      £5,000 Materials and equipment Materials and equipment required to create pilot activities.
      £5,000 Funds to facilitate pilot proj Seedcorn funding for the initial pilot projects to develop sustainable enterprise

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Bristol Visual and Environmental Buildings Trust £1,500 Guaranteed
    Norman Family Charitable Trust £2,000 Guaranteed
    Sylvia Waddilove Foundation UK £5,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The project will take place at Poltimore House, a rurally-located 2* manor house just north of Exeter, using the renovation of outbuildings to develop the Poltimore Opportunity model. We have established close links with Exeter Shilhay Community – a city-centre charity for homeless people: supporting self-sufficiency and employability. Enabling city people to work in this rural setting – linking locations and communities - has been a special success factor for all those involved in the project.


    We benefit hugely from this innovative and inspirational project which will, in turn, benefit the heritage industry through emergence of new experienced craftspeople. Benefits to trainees are through funded learning and the focus on site experience enables them to break out of the unemployment loop. Benefits of the highly-engaged model of learning, encourages motivation, encouragement, understanding and creative decision-making on site. Broader benefits result from disseminating the model.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    PHT has a track record of working with volunteers, and through this and associated training we have increased activities, learning, revenue, donations and funds and public access and engagement with heritage. We have established strong links with colleges and learning providers, and with conservation professionals and builders.We provide opportunities to develop experience-led learning, integrating heritage funding and training. Creating and sustaining opportunities is what we do best.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Frances Tanner

    Programme Manager, Poltimore House Trust Project and programme management, publicity, marketing, fundraising, administration, connecting people.

    Simon Tootell

    Visitor Services and Volunteer Manager Working with volunteers and visitors, devising and managing learning through projects, managing events.

    Mark Lidster

    Director, Corbel Conservation Leading training development for the Poltimore Opportunity model as skilled and experienced craftsman and site manager

    Claire Donovan

    Poltimore House Trust Trustee and Directo Development; project relationships, communications and coordination between Trustees, Patrons and donors.