I wasn’t always a Lanner boy; we emigrated from Cammurn in 1974 to Trevarth where mother still lives. I emigrated again in 1989 to England where I learned my trade as a Quality Auditor and administrator. I worked in electroplating, automotive, water treatment works, NHS, and I discovered that I had eminently transferable skills, and that I was not particularly fond of administration.
I joined a local archaeological society and the combination of working in a local museum and being given redundancy from the IT firm I was working for, I moved to Exeter for a degree in Archaeology. I got a first and so I was given a discount on an MA, where I also got a first. For my MA, I carried out research into people’s attitudes towards heritage in Cornwall, and showed how most people (but especially Cornish people) do not like the official depictions of Cornwall and the Cornish – even back in 2010 they objected to the “Disneyfication” of Cornish heritage before anyone ever suggested the controversial bridge at Tintagel.
Following my MA I worked in Archaeology – for the museum of London, Wessex Archaeology and other companies. Then, thanks to austerity, the work dried up. However, I managed to get a job providing maternity cover at the Heritage Lottery Fund, and helped to develop a lot of projects in Cornwall for them to get funding. Projects who listened to my advice usually got their funding, those who ignored me tended not to be successful.
After that interesting year, I worked in the Cornish Language Office. It was called MAGA back when our taxes were spent on our own language, and my Cornish is definitely improving. Leaving Cornwall caused a profound sense of loss for me, and so I had books on the language throughout my exile (which I never got round to reading). Being back in Cornwall, with more opportunities all around us, there was really no excuse not to learn our own language. It galls me that so much of our taxes are spent on teaching Cornish people English with no questions asked, but even some Cornish people object to our children learning our own language. The funding they took away barely paid for one tail fin on one Trident rocket – by which I mean it was loose change to the government who therefore took our taxes away out of spite.
I have campaigned for Cornish heritage, and was one of a group who met with English Heritage to try to reason with them. Sadly that was without success, and now we find Cornwall Council becoming less and less engaged with we Cornish every day. Most people I know ask justified questions about the bizarre activities, and just get labelled as “vexatious”. There needs to be urgent reform and Cornwall Council needs to start understanding and accommodating the local community, instead of the other way around.
I was co-opted onto Lanner Council as someone with local knowledge as well as skills and abilities, particularly in project management, funding, and heritage. Because I prefer archaeology to administration, I am never going to be rich. That is even less so as I am now working on a PhD to examine how the relatively stable attitude towards heritage in Cornwall relates to political engagement (or not!) which will form part of the Institute of Cornish Studies’ “Agan Kernow” outreach project.
Oll an gwella / All the best,