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Published 1st Apr 2011

Dr. Jonathan Foyle at Middlesbrough's Transporter Bridge

TV personalities, Kevin McCloud and Dr Jonathan Foyle will be giving the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge a centenary treat this June to help raise funds for the Heritage Skills Initiative.

The daring duo will scale and then abseil off the iconic bridge just as Jonathan Foyle did in his award winning ‘Climbing Great Buildings’ programme on the BBC. The public have a chance to get involved and ‘Take the Plunge’ by signing up for a sponsored bungee jump from the bridge. All sponsored bungee jumpers will get their jump countdown from Kevin and Jonathan before the adrenaline pumping plunge.

The Heritage Skills Initiative champions vital skills needed to maintain the built historic environment. Over many decades, skills such as stone masonry, lime plastering, traditional carpentry and stained glass window making have all declined significantly. These skills however, are vital in maintaining and restoring many of the beloved buildings which form part of our history. Hosted by the North of England Civic Trust, the Heritage Skills Initiative is involved in raising awareness and creating the training and partnership opportunities needed to address the skills gap.

Both Kevin and Jonathan are loyal supporters of the Trusts work and the vital role the HSI play in encouraging the revitalising of these heritage trades.

Many of our region’s historic buildings have benefited from the work done by the North of England Civic Trust such as Belford Hall, Northumberland; Eagle and Exchange Buildings, Sunderland; Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle and Middlesbrough Historic Quarter.

However, one of the real success stories is the way in which the HSI’s work can transform people’s lives. Danny McColl is one such example of a north east man’s life transformed by the opportunity to retrain and start a new career in a traditional trade.

Originally working day in day out behind a screen doing computer analysis, Danny dreamed of a more fulfilling career which would lead him outdoors. After researching potential outdoor careers, Danny decided to embark on a new life as a dry stone waller. With support, guidance and training from the HSI he successfully set up his own businesses. After 2 years, Danny was then offered the chance to further train as a skilled Stonemason with a Heritage Lottery Funded Bursary supported by HSI. Today he now works for one of the best Stone Masonry businesses in the North East, P & S Coverdale Stonemasonry Ltd.. Of his life change Danny said,

“Before, I would often get home from work having never seen the light of day. I really wanted to make a change. The support given by HSI has been invaluable. Their advice, contacts and training really helped me on my way.”

He went on to add,

“The opportunity to do the bursary was really the final piece of the puzzle. I now have a career doing something I love. P & S Coverdale are a wonderful team to work with and to be able to do something I feel a pride in is incredible.”

Ways to get involved

The ‘Take the Plunge’ team led by Andie Harris, North of England Civic Trust’s Learning & Skills Manager, are looking for more brave volunteers wanting to do the sponsored bungee jump.

The public also have another way to get involved and raise vital funds to keep the HSI’s work going by joining Kevin and Jonathan at a gala dinner the night before the jumps. For details of both events and how to get involved, see below:

Take the Plunge - Formal Dinner, Civic Centre, Newcastle, 10th June at 7pm

Followed by: Talks by Kevin McCloud (Grand Designs Ch4) and Dr Jonathan Foyle (Climbing Great Buildings BBC Time Team Ch4), and an Auction of Promises compered by John Grundy

Tickets are £95.00 plus VAT (if a full table purchased one goes free)

Take the Plunge – Bungee Jump, Transporter Bridge, Middlesbrough, 11th June at 10am – 6pm

Come and meet Kevin McCloud and Dr Jonathan Foyle. Watch as they climb the Transporter Bridge and abseil back down in the morning.

Opportunities to bungee jump from the Transporter Bridge all afternoon with Kevin and Jonathan counting you down (T&C’s apply). You will get a photograph and DVD of your jump.

On the day of the bungee jump, there will also be a Heritage Skills exhibition showcasing the opportunities on offer to train in one of these traditional crafts.

For more details on any of the events or the work the HSI do go to

Useful links

Transporter Bridge

Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge on wikipedia

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