British baroness vows to help protect Bermuda’s heritage
A British member of the House of Lords who visited the Bermuda National Trust while on holiday said she would help Bermuda protect its cultural heritage.
Baroness Andrews of Southover also praised theTrust for its conservation of the island’s heritage, as well as the Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. She said: “I think Bermuda has set a world-class example in the management of Covid – I’m really, really impressed.” Baroness Andrews added: “When I came I’d been greeted by nothing but efficiency and kindness. I’ve had all my Covid tests on time and I watched those figures falling day in and day out while being so terrified of what’s happening in the UK. Although it’s a small island and it’s easier to reach people, my goodness, it could have gone terribly wrong.”
Baroness Andrews, a Labour life peer, arrived in Bermuda last December to visit her son and his family, who moved to the island last summer.
She said that she met the Trust to see how the Trust had handled the Covid-19 pandemic. She added that she was impressed by the Trust’s approach to conservation and that she was aware of Bermuda’s “global heritage”.
Baroness Andrews said: “Those trust properties and the landscape itself, as well as what it represents, is really of universal significance, I think. I’m very excited by the scale of the impact that Bermuda makes and the way that the trust is responsible for that.”
Baroness Andrews said that the UK had a “moral obligation” to help islands such as Bermuda protect their cultural heritage. She admitted that there were not many organisations that had the money to help, but that it was worth exploring. Baroness Andrews said: “I think it’s worth having a conversation about and it’s a conversation I can certainly start.”
She added: “There’s a lot of people who would be interested in the question – where anyone would want to give you a straight answer, I don’t know.
“It’s quite a delicate question because there is a balance with the Territories about wanting them to absolutely do their own thing in their way, as they know how, and having this historic connection and responsibility.”
Kay Andrews was made Baroness Andrews of Southover in 2000. She was the chairwoman of English Heritage from July 2009 to July 2013 and was the first woman to lead the organisation.
Baroness Andrews said that she was “totally overwhelmed by the beauty” of the island after she arrived. She added that she was pleased by the Government’s cultural heritage strategy announced during the Throne Speech last November. Baroness Andrews said: “I have not come across anything like that and I think to find that in the middle of the Throne Speech was really exciting.
“That was one of the first things I saw when I came and I thought ’wow, this country has got it – it actually knows that heritage is wealth’.”
Baroness Andrews said that many conservation organisations around the world had to close their sites to the public because of the coronavirus and had lost income. But she added she was impressed by how well the Trust had handled the coronavirus, as well as their “innovative” efforts to promote the island’s history.
Baroness Andrews said: “In Bermuda you have the experience of having a beautiful environment, but also less lockdowns, even though you’re facing the same problems as everyone else.”
She added that Bermuda would have to rebuild its economy in the wake of the pandemic, but she had faith that the Government’s “highly intelligent” economic recovery plan would create a “very good foundation”.
Baroness Andrews said: “I’m very optimistic that Bermuda is going to come out of this and the visitors will come back for all of this.”
Baroness Andrews was the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government between 2005 and 2009.She was earlier the Government Whip and spokeswoman in the House of Lords for Health, Work and Pensions, as well as for Education and Skills. Baroness Andrews was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1998.