The leader of Northamptonshire County Council Jim Harker has been appointed the new chairman of the committee which decides which projects should benefit from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) support.
Cllr Harker, who represents the Ise division on the authority, will sit on the seven-member East Midlands committee of the HLF, which is made up of leading regional figures in the heritage sector chosen for their wide range of experience and local knowledge.
Responsible for making decisions on regional applications to the fund from £100,000 to £2 million, the committee is supported by the Nottingham-based HLF team for the East Midlands.
Using money raised via the National Lottery, HLF has funded more than 2,900 projects in the East Midlands since the National Lottery was established 20 years ago.
It means projects in the region have benefited to the tune of almost £325 million.
Cllr Harker has led the county council since the Conservatives won power in 2005. A retired chartered surveyor, he was awarded an OBE in 2012 for services to the civic society and economy of Northamptonshire.
He said: “I have always found our heritage immensely inspiring and am committed to its preservation and promotion throughout our region. It is with great pleasure therefore that I start my new role on this committee.
“Arguably the role of heritage has never been more important than it is now. We are in the centre of a significant growth area and it is vital that our heritage plays a central and critical part of this growth.
“The role of this committee is pivotal in realising this ambition and I am delighted to be chairing it at this time.”
Vanessa Harbar, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund East Midlands, said she was pleased to be welcoming to the committee Cllr Harker and Mo Cooper, heritage officer at St Anns Allotments, a 75-acre Grade 2* listed site in Nottingham and a founder member of the Nottingham Women’s History Group.
She added: “They bring a wealth of experience to what is already a very strong team of decision makers. Their wide-ranging expertise and strong regional awareness will be of great benefit to both HLF and the East Midlands heritage.”
The committee that Jim Harker will chair covers Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland and the cities of Derby, Leicester and Nottingham.
The range of HLF-supported projects include restoration of historic buildings, improvements to museums and galleries, makeovers for town parks, purchasing works of art and treasured artefacts, helping to conserve the natural environment, and promoting community involvement in conserving local social histories.
HLF is also actively involved in supporting a wide range of projects marking the centenary of the First World War.