Wakefield Civic Society hosts national event

Wakefield Civic Society recently hosted a national gathering of civic society representatives from across the country on behalf of Civic Voice and YHACS.

Civic Voice is the national body for the civic society movement and accepted our offer to host the 2024 Spring Convention here in Wakefield – the first time we had hosted this national get-together of civic societies since 2017. The event was also arranged as part of the annual programme for YHACS, the Yorkshire and Humber Association of Civic Societies. Wakefield Civic Society is a member of both Civic Voice and YHACS.

The event was held over two days – Friday and Saturday, 12th and 13th April, and began with guided walk around the Westgate Heritage Action Zone on the Friday afternoon. Around 30 people took part – members of Wakefield Civic Society and members of other societies from around the country.

On Friday evening, over 50 people enjoyed dinner at Create Cafe. The evening began with a welcome from Wakefield Civic Society President Kevin Trickett and Civic Voice Chair Martin Hamilton, after which Helen Featherstone, Director England, North, National Lottery Heritage Fund, delivered a short presentation on how the Heritage Fund had been able to help deliver projects across the north of England, including a remarkable conservation and refurbishment project at Rochdale Town Hall.

On Saturday, the day-long Convention, emceed by Kevin Trickett, was held at CAPA College – and excellent venue for our purposes. The day’s first guest speaker was Simon Lightwood MP (pictured below) who, as well as being Wakefield’s Member of Parliament is also the Shadow Transport Minister.

Other guest speakers included Paul Cartwright from Pontefract Civic Society, Clare Elliott, Julie Russell and Paul Gwilliam from Wakefield Council, Jonathan Maud, Chair and Managing Director of developer Rushbond plc, Richard Butterfield from Historic England and Louise Clare from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Claire Nicholson, Principal of CAPA College, introduced some of the students who entertained the audience with songs from the musicals (see photo below).

The message running through all the presentations was very clear – better results can be delivered when organisations work in partnership – and that civic societies have a lot to offer to stakeholders, be they councils or developers.

Tony Wade, a local artist, spoke about his work on place projects and how, on behalf of Edgelands Arts, he had pariticipated in heritage projects working with Wakefield Civic Society. The event was rounded off by Margaret Hicks-Clarke, Chair of YHACS (pictured below) who spoke about the help that YHACS can offer civic societies within the region, and finally, by Martin Hamilton who also handled a short Q&A session.

We are delighted to report that the overall arrangements worked very well and we wish to thank all guest speakers and venues for helping to make this event such a success. Since the event concluded, we have had many messages congratulating the Society and all involved in organising the event.

We would also like to thank Antony de Csernatony of KRA:FT Media Services for being the ‘official’ photographer for Saturday’s Convention and providing the photos used here.