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National award recognises tireless work of Norfolk’s milestone man

PUBLISHED: 08:41 22 November 2017 | UPDATED: 08:41 22 November 2017

Nigel Ford has won an award for his work restoring Norfolk's milestones.  Picture: Onur Pinar/Historic England

Nigel Ford has won an award for his work restoring Norfolk's milestones. Picture: Onur Pinar/Historic England

Onur Pinar

A retired window cleaner, who has made it his personal mission to rediscover, repair and paint hundreds of milestones across Norfolk, has been recognised with a national award.

Nigel Ford and his milestone restoration crew receive and award from Historic England and Andrew Lloyd Webber.  Picture: Historic England Nigel Ford and his milestone restoration crew receive and award from Historic England and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Picture: Historic England

Nigel Ford, from Hardingham, near Dereham, has won the Historic England Angel Award for Best Rescue, Recording or Interpretation of a Historic Place for his labour of love.

So far over 150 individual markers, most of which date from the early 1800s, have been restored to their former glory since Mr Ford started the project.

His aim is to recover every accessible milestone in the county, whether concealed by brambles or lying in ditches, broken or buried.

Mr Ford has enlisted the help of an army of keen volunteers, from local Brownie packs and school children to The Prince of Wales who helped paint two of the Roman numerals during restoration and relocation of the milestone at Anmer.

Removing a milestone ahead of restoration.  Picture: Nigel Ford Removing a milestone ahead of restoration. Picture: Nigel Ford

At every step he has passed on his practical knowledge as well as his passion, ensuring Norfolk retains its connection to a time when simple stones guided travellers through the county.

On receiving his award at the ceremony at the Palace Theatre in London, Mr Ford said: “It’s fantastic and a real credit to all my helpers as well. My biggest problem now is to get a carpenter to widen the doorway to accommodate my big head!”

Supported by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, the Historic England Angel Awards celebrate the efforts of individuals and local groups across the country that have devoted their time and energy to bringing irreplaceable historic places back to life.

The ceremony was co-hosted by Mr Lloyd Webber and nominees came from across the country to celebrate the achievements of all groups.

Nigel Ford with Prince Charles restoring the milestone at Anmer.  Picture supplied by Nigel Ford Nigel Ford with Prince Charles restoring the milestone at Anmer. Picture supplied by Nigel Ford

The awards were judged by Mr Lloyd Webber, TV’s Restoration Man George Clarke, the Dean of Westminster Dr John Hall, historian Bettany Hughes, Baroness Lola Young and Historic England’s chief executive Duncan Wilson.

The Grade 1 listed The Piece Hall in Halifax was named the first ever overall winner and The Source BMX Park in Hastings won the public vote.

Mr Lloyd Webber said: “I’m delighted that these awards shine a spotlight on people who work tirelessly to bring our heritage back to life in such a vibrant way.”

Bintree milestone before restoration. Picture: Nigel Ford Bintree milestone before restoration. Picture: Nigel Ford

Bintree milestone after restoration.  Picture: Nigel Ford Bintree milestone after restoration. Picture: Nigel Ford

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