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University Centre's Dr James Pardoe

Bringing the past to life, to benefit of the future

A University Centre Shrewsbury academic is among experts who have determined which of the historic sites of Britain and Ireland are worthy of greater recognition. The five judges for the inaugural Association for Heritage Interpretation (AHI) Discover Heritage Awards include the University Centre's Dr James Pardoe.

The panel spent a day at the Parkgate Road Campus of the University of Chester, where Dr Pardoe also lectures, narrowing down the shortlist in their search for excellence in cultural and natural heritage interpretation.

Among the diverse locations of all sizes which entered were: the new visitor centres at Stonehenge and Bannockburn and for King Richard III; Second World War and woodland centres in Norfolk and near Pitlochry; the Queen's State Apartments at Hampton Court Palace; an historic ship in Belfast, linked with the Titanic; a shipwreck dive site in Iona; a centre of the Industrial Revolution; and even a re-used red telephone box.

A Roman medicine roadshow and mobile phone app, First World War soldiers' tales and the story of Aberaeron in the form of a game were some of the methods used to engage visitors by the organisations and individuals who submitted their work.

In addition to the shortlist, commendations were announced, with Shropshire featuring in the accolades. The Visitor Welcome project at St Mary's Church, St Mary's Street, Shrewsbury, run by The Churches Conservation Trust, was commended in the museums and historic properties/sites category.

The panel had representatives from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales and was chaired by the AHI Vice-Chair, Bill Bevan.

Said Dr Pardoe, Director of Design, Heritage and the Built Environment at University Centre Shrewsbury and the AHI member for England: "As we historians and archaeologists gain greater knowledge of the past, the challenge is how best to convey our understanding of it to a wider contemporary audience.

"Interpretation makes sense of how and why our ancestors did what they did and in heritage terms this involves investigating the locations in which they lived and worked and explaining what they did there.

"The means through which we share this information has become an art form, as we benefit from both becoming better informed and having access to more sophisticated and relevant resources."

Entrants will have to wait until 21st October to hear the winners' names read out by Dr Loyd Grossman CBE, who is Patron of the AHI and was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Chester to acknowledge his work in this field.