A man in a black shirt, nice hair, looking straight in the portrait.

Max Sinclair, founder of the Droitwich Canals Trust, has won the English Heritage Angel Award for the Best Rescue of a Historic Industrial Building or Site. The award celebrates his drive, commitment and vision that made the restoration of the Droitwich Canals possible.

Founded last year by Andrew Lloyd Webber to celebrate the efforts of local people in rescuing their heritage, the winners were announced at a gala ceremony in London’s West End on Monday. The award scheme is run by English Heritage and inspired by its ‘Heritage at Risk Register’.

The ceremony, held at The Palace Theatre, was hosted by TV presenter Clare Balding, with Graham Norton, Philip Mould, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, Melvyn Bragg and Charles Moore presenting the awards.

Angels judge Melvyn Bragg described the industrial category as one of the toughest to decide on and the Bishop of London, also on the panel, was impressed by the scale and impact on the landscape and the sheer number of people involved in the canal rescue.

Grit and determination

Max Sinclair who founded of the Droitwich Canals Trust, said: “I was a war-time child and hated to see destruction. By the late 1960s the Barge canal was overgrown, silted up and missing most of its operational parts. I knew I had to do something. Through grit and determination thousands of volunteers helped in the repairs and now, more than 30 years later, the Droitwich canals are fully restored and once again enjoyed by all.”

Andrew Lloyd Webber chaired the judging panel which comprised Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage and Trustee of the Canal & River Trust, author and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, Charles Moore of the Telegraph, historian Bettany Hughes and the Bishop of London, the Right Revd Richard Chartres.

Andrew Lloyd Webber said: “I am delighted for all the winners of this year’s Angel Awards who were chosen from a very strong shortlist. I think it is hugely important to publicly recognise the efforts of those rescuing heritage sites in order to show our appreciation for their work and encourage even more people across the country to do the same.”

Simon Thurley added: “Once again we have been dazzled by the energy, invention, commitment and public spiritedness of thousands of people determined to save their precious heritage. While the angel awards were presented to five people, we are all winners, as we can now enjoy the historic places they have saved for the future.”

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