Stage impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber has revealed he is to bankroll a new awards scheme aimed at honouring efforts to save Scotland’s threatened national treasures.
Campaigns to secure the future of neglected buildings, rundown monuments, unsung landmarks and under-threat parks are set to receive national recognition under the award-winning composer’s plans.
The protection and restoration of historic industrial buildings, places of worship, battlefield sites, cinemas, concert halls and even pubs could be in contention for one of the awards.
The Phantom of the Opera composer is helping the Scottish Government and Historic Scotland to set up a new “heritage angel” scheme with a donation of almost £125,000, which will pay for the first two years of the venture.
It is hoped the creation of the Scottish Heritage Angel Awards scheme, which Lloyd Webber has pledged to oversee, will help raise awareness of “at-risk” buildings and other protected sites across the country.
A nationwide search to find contenders for the new honours will be launched in November, with the composer promising to come to Scotland to preside over the first awards ceremony in the autumn of 2015.
Individuals, campaign groups, voluntary organisations and businesses are all expected to have the chance to win one of the new awards, which are being funded through Lloyd Webber’s own charitable foundation. It has been involved with a similar scheme in England since 2011.
The impresario told The Scotsman he had a long-standing commitment to supporting architectural heritage projects and had been keen for some time to set up such an initiative north of the Border, as he is half-Scottish through his late mother Jean, who was from Inverness.
Lloyd Webber, 66, said: “Architectural heritage has always been a real passion of mine and I’ve been very concerned at the number of historic buildings that have been lost or have been lying unused in this country. Protecting our heritage is one of the most important causes we, as a community, can undertake.”
Among the projects which could be recognised in Scotland are efforts to rescue the Glasgow School of Art building which was hit by a huge blaze in May; the campaign to breathe new life into a disused Roman Catholic seminary near Cardross, in Argyll; and the reopening of an historic cinema in Aberfeldy, Perthshire, after three decades.
Other bodies involved in the awards include the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Archaeology Scotland and the Scottish Civic Trust.