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World famous Stonehenge illuminated in dedication to unsung champions of UK heritage

2nd December 2020

TV’s Sir Tony Robinson today unveiled a historic takeover of Stonehenge, with the 5,000-year-old sarsen stones temporarily illuminated with images of ‘unsung heritage champions’ from across the UK. Prohibited from attending the display due to current restrictions, a video projection of Sir Tony acted to first illuminate the historic stones and introduce the momentous display.

Our heritage champions projected onto Stonehenge

The night-time celebration used eight projectors to honour remarkable individuals who have worked tirelessly to keep the UK’s heritage accessible during the pandemic and beyond, with the support of National Lottery funding, or who have been recognised for their dedication to the sector over a number of years.

With lockdowns and travel restrictions becoming the new normal, many green spaces, public gardens and historic sites have played an increasingly pivotal role in people’s lives. New insights1 released today from The National Lottery, which has helped fund almost 1,000 heritage sites and projects across the UK in response to the pandemic, reveals that 72% of adults say outdoor spaces have had a positive effect on their mental wellbeing this year with 43% saying that heritage sites make them feel more relaxed and less anxious in difficult times, and half (49%) saying heritage sites make them proud of their local area.

English Heritage’s James Rodliff is Operations Manager at Stonehenge. Without any visitors to the iconic site, and with 92% of the Stonehenge team furloughed, James worked with a small team throughout lockdown to ensure the care and conservation of the 5,000-year-old monument. He was instrumental in planning for the safe re-opening of the site in early July which received fantastic feedback from visitors, for both the safe and warm welcome they received. Stonehenge is just one of more than 400 sites cared for by English Heritage and almost all were able to re-open safely to the public following lockdown.

“I love the fact that Stonehenge is being lit up as a tribute to some of the nations key project workers and volunteers, letting the public know about the hard work they’ve been doing to keep our heritage accessible to everyone using National Lottery funding. Without the graft and tireless effort of these wonderful people, our much-loved heritage would be more at risk than ever this year”. “As a nation we have a deep love for our open spaces and historic places. Understanding our heritage makes us feel closer to where we live and can bring a great deal of joy. Lots of us have spent many hours during lockdown enjoying our culture and heritage, and these findings prove what a positive impact this has had on people’s happiness and well-being, especially during such difficult times.”

Sir Tony Robinson said:

Stonehenge is just one of the heritage sites in the UK which has faced uncertainty during the pandemic. English Heritage’s James Rodliff, 35 oversees the day to day running of Stonehenge and meticulously planned the reopening of the site.

: “I’m surprised and humbled by this recognition from The National Lottery. I certainly didn’t expect to turn up to work and see my face up in lights. English Heritage has worked exceptionally hard – at Stonehenge and the hundreds of historic sites in our care - to look after these inspiring places and to welcome back people safely to them. “Over the years, the National Lottery has helped to transform Stonehenge including removing the old visitor facilities beside the monument and creating a new visitor centre that does justice to this wonder of the world.”

English Heritage’s James Rodliff commented:

James Rodliff

National Lottery players raise around £30 million for good causes every week. With the help of this funding, thousands of people across the UK are supporting their communities in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. These efforts are making a huge difference to people’s wellbeing, particularly those who are vulnerable and isolated.

“The National Lottery is playing a crucial role in supporting heritage sites and projects during the crisis, but it’s the important work of the thousands of amazing individuals, some of whom we are celebrating and honouring today, that keep these places going and make our visits memorable. “I would like to thank each and every one of them for their passion, commitment and the profound and positive impact they are having on the sector. None of this would have been possible of course without National Lottery players, who raise around £30 million each week for good causes.”

Ros Kerslake CBE, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: