In mid-September this year I am going to walk 120 km of the Camino Inglés – St.James’ Way – over five days from the port of Ferrol on the northern coast of Galicia (Spain) to Santiago de Compostela in order to create global public awareness of the work of INTO and the absolute necessity to raise funds for INTO in order for it to be able to continue to carry out its global work. This “English Way” was mostly used by pilgrims from Northern Europe, Britain and Ireland since the mid-12th Century and is characterized by superb coastal views, ancient towns and undulating green countryside – all of which constitutes listed World Heritage, comprising 166 towns and villages, including over 1,800 buildings of historic interest.
At each leg of our walk, my INTO colleagues and I will be joined by local Galicians who will highlight the heritage and environmental issues of the districts through which we pass. We are to be greeted by the mayors and citizens of each town we enter for civic ceremonies to raise the profile of their conservation issues. Further, in order to leave a lasting commemoration of the INTO Walk whilst concurrently improving the environment, as we traverse the countryside 2,000 trees are to be planted.
Every community the world over has special places that they cherish: they might be superb natural landscapes such as a forested mountain scape or designed cultural landscapes created to please the artistic eye in a bygone era; they might be wild places rich in biodiversity providing shelter for endangered species; they might be magnificent structures demonstrating the extraordinary skill of ancient builders; they might be superb creations, such as a giant cathedral or beautiful palace, demonstrating the very best of architecture and craftsmanship; or it might a simple cottage in which an historical person was born and from which they went on to found a nation; or it might be a “lost” village of an indigenous people who have somehow maintained cultural traditions centuries old despite the passage of time in an ever changing world; or it might be a smooth grassy hill that hides the horrors of a great battle once fought upon it, which is to be safeguarded so as to convey a message to successive generations of the futility of war and the need to strive for harmony amongst people. These are some of the places that constitute heritage – cultural and natural heritage – that we of the current generation have inherited from our forebears and which we now hold as custodians for future generations.
When I was part of the founding team that drafted the words that in 2007 became the overarching mission of INTO – to promote the conservation and enhancement of the cultural and natural heritage of all nations for the benefit of the people of the world – I had in mind a vast world of differing peoples who needed to be assisted to gain the capacity to have their voices heard when calling for heritage conservation.
Since our formal launch in 2007 my expectations of the need across the world were more than confirmed: INTO has member National Trusts (or like heritage organisations) in about 65 countries and almost on a weekly basis we are approached from some part of world with queries about heritage conservation and, frequently, how to go about creating a National Trust. The call on our resources – both human and financial has been enormous – and it increases each day.
But I have been shocked, repeatedly shocked – indeed very disappointed – how difficult it has been to raise funds to underpin our work – despite the demonstrated need. INTO classically “falls between stools”. Although INTO is registered as a charity in the UK, because our remit is essentially international, we have found we are prevented from being a recipient of funds from philanthropic foundations in many countries, as the vast majority have a constitutional national restriction. Then when it comes to the support of international programmes, say from governments, the allowable criteria is largely restricted to the alleviation of poverty, educational programmes and when environment is accepted, cultural heritage is largely absent. Further, when eligibility can be established, funds are only ever available for actual projects on the ground and never the operational infrastructure of an organisation.
So seven years down the track: we still have an entirely honorary Executive who either fund themselves or have to find funding elsewhere to cover their expenses; save for one officer who receives payment for just two days a week, all the other directors and secretariat are honorary and must also find the funds to cover their expenses. Yet all of us, particularly the senior executive and secretariat, are frequently requested to speak, guide, advise and support. In this field of heritage conservation, in many countries less privileged than Australia, the opportunity to receive guidance, advice and support from other quarters is often non-existent.
So I need you to help INTO to do the job expected of it. I need to raise funds for INTO so that it will be able to continue to carry out its global work and so I’d be most grateful if you’d assist me to achieve this objective. My goal is to raise Aus$10,000 (GBP 5,500) in sponsorship. You can either contribute a lump sum or so much per kilometre walked (keeping in mind the walk is about 120km long).
Donations can be made securely through PayPal.
In anticipation of your support, I thank you most sincerely. With your support, we will collectively ensure a heritage legacy remains for future generations.
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