The Blue Plaques Panel
The role of the Blue Plaques Panel is to advise and support staff working on the English Heritage blue plaques scheme. Recommendations for figures suitable for commemoration are considered by the panel when they meet three times a year. The dates and minutes of the meetings can be found here.
Professor William Whyte
Chair of the Blue Plaques Panel, Professor William Whyte is a distinguished architectural historian and Professor of Social and Architectural History at St John’s College, Oxford. At Oxford, he’s currently serving as Senior Responsible Owner and Chair of the Project Board for the Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities (the university’s largest ever capital project). Outside the university, Professor Whyte is Chair of the Oxford Preservation Trust, the Oxford Historical Society, and the Victoria County History of Oxfordshire; a member of the Fabric Commission of Westminster Abbey; and serves on the International Commission for the History of Universities.
Professor Richard Aldrich
Professor Richard Aldrich is Professor of International Security at the University of Warwick. He is the author of GCHQ: The Uncensored Story of Britain's Most Secret Intelligence Agency (2010) and Hidden Hand: Britain, America and Cold War Secret Intelligence (2001). Since 2008, he has been leading a team project funded by the AHRC entitled: ‘Landscapes of Secrecy: The Central Intelligence Agency and the Contested Record of US Foreign Policy’. Richard has served on the Cabinet Office Consultative Group on Intelligence and Security Records and has made a number of historical documentaries for Channel 4, ZDF and PBS.
Sophie Anstee de Mas
Sophie Anstee de Mas works at the National Archives in their Grants and Funding Department, working to both fund the archive sector as well as win bids to support innovative internal research. Building from her masters from St Andrews University in Museum and Gallery studies, her career began with Shout Out Loud, English Heritage’s youth engagement programme. Here she worked with their digital team to promote engagement and interest in our shared heritage and campaigned for young people to feel empowered to research and nominate their own Blue Plaque recipients. Today, Sophie is a trustee for the British Association for Local History, with previous volunteering roles at the Museum of Edinburgh, the National Trust, and a long-standing position as a Young Producer with Shout Out Loud.
Professor Tilly Blyth
Professor Tilly Blyth is Head of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester – the world’s oldest and only standalone university department dedicated to the study of museums and galleries. Prior to that she spent over twenty years working with national museums, including the V&A, British Museum and Science Museum. As Head of Collections and Principal Curator at the Science Museum, Tilly led the curatorial, research, library and archive teams and developed new galleries and temporary exhibitions at the museum. In 2019, she co-presented The Art of Innovation for BBC Radio 4 which was also accompanied by a book and exhibition of the same name.
With a background in Physics and the Analysis of Science and Technology (BSc, University of Manchester), and Technical Change and Industrial Strategy (MSc, University of Manchester), her doctorate (Sociology of Technology, Brunel University) examined the social construction of consumer need for new technologies. She is a trustee of the Bletchley Park Trust, the charity which cares for the Second World War code-breaking centre outside Milton Keynes.
Tilly will be starting her appointment from the 1st of January 2024.
Mihir Bose is an award-winning journalist and author. He was the BBC’s first Sports Editor – the first non-white BBC editor. Mihir worked for the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Times for over 30 years and has written for nearly all the mainstream British media. He has authored more than 30 books, two of which are being made into films, and his History of Indian Cricket (2002) won the Cricket Society Silver Jubilee Literary award. Mihir is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and was awarded an honorary doctorate from Loughborough University for his outstanding contribution to journalism and the promotion of equality.
YolanDa Brown OBE DL
YolanDa Brown is a double MOBO Award winning artist, her music is a delicious fusion of reggae, jazz and soul. She has toured with The Temptations, Jools Holland and collaborated with Dave Stewart from Eurythmics, Snarky Puppy’s Bill Laurance, Kelly Jones from Stereophonics and she’s currently composing music for the iconic Sesame Street, CocoMelon on Netflix and the animation Bea’s Block currently on Sky Kids. YolanDa was awarded an OBE for services to music, music education and broadcasting in the 2023 New Year Honours List by his Majesty the King. In July 2022, YolanDa was appointed Chair of BPI - the representative voice for UK record labels and organises The BRIT Awards & Mercury Prize. A champion for the importance of music education and the Music Week Women in Music Award Winner, YolanDa is Chair of Youth Music, sits on the Arts Council National Council, is a trustee of the PRS Foundation, an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust and London Music Fund. In 2021, she was invited by the Department of Education to sit on the advisory panel of the National Plan for Music Education. A BAFTA nominated broadcaster her eponymous series for CBeebies, "YolanDa’s Band Jam", won the RTSNW award as Best Children’s Programme. She’s a presenter on Songs of Praise and BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year. Over on the airways, she hosts YolanDa Brown on Saturday on Jazz FM, the best classical music every Sunday on Scala radio, Radio 4’s ‘Loose Ends’ with Clive Anderson and across many shows on Radio 2 and Magic FM. YolanDa loves to drive fast cars around race tracks in her spare time and can rattle off a Rubik’s Cube in five minutes (on a good day).
YolanDa will be starting her appointment from the 1st of January 2024.
Dr Gus Casely-Hayford OBE is a curator and cultural historian who writes, lectures and broadcasts widely on culture. He is the founding Director of V&A East and was previously the Director of the Smithsonian, National Museum of African Art. A champion for the arts, Gus has presented two series of The Lost Kingdoms of Africa for the BBC and two series of Tate Britain: Great Art Walks for Sky. He is also a former Executive Director of Arts Strategy, Arts Council England and a former Director of the Institute of International Contemporary Art. Gus has been awarded a King’s College cultural fellowship for service to the arts and a SOAS Honorary Fellowship for service to Africa.
Dr Simon Chaplin
Dr Simon Chaplin is Chief Executive Officer of the Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund supporting charities and scholarly institutions to preserve cultural heritage, protect the environment and promote open access. Prior to that he was Director of Culture and Society at the Wellcome Trust in London and Head of the Wellcome Library. He was formerly Director of Museums and Special Collections at The Royal College of Surgeons of England, where he managed the Hunterian Museum and the Wellcome Museum of Anatomy and Pathology. Simon’s first degree is in Natural Sciences, and his PhD dealt with the relationship between dissection, collecting and display in late 18th-century London.
Emily Gee is the Director for Cathedral and Church Buildings for the Church of England, having previously held the role of London and South East Regional Director at Historic England. She has an undergraduate degree in Afro-American Studies from Smith College, Massachusetts, a Masters of Architectural History and Historic Preservation from the University of Virginia, and a diploma in Building Conservation from the Architectural Association. Emily has written on Victorian and Edwardian housing for working women and on listing, focusing on the history of listing, diversity and post-war buildings. Emily is on the Council of Camden History Society, and looks after the history fundraising lectures at St Pancras Old Church.
Alex Graham is chair of The Scott Trust, sole shareholder in the Guardian and Observer newspapers. In 1987 he founded Wall to Wall Television, responsible for programming the multi-award winning A Rather English Marriage and Oscar-winning documentary Man On Wire. Alex also created two groundbreaking history series – The 1900 House and Who Do You Think You Are? Previously Chair of the Sheffield International Documentary Festival and the Edinburgh International Television Festival, Alex is a fellow of the Royal Television Society, holding the Society’s coveted Gold Medal. He has won the Grierson Trust’s Trustees’ Award for services to documentary and a BAFTA Scotland special award for outstanding contribution to broadcasting.
Andrew Graham-Dixon is one of the leading art critics and presenters of arts television in the English-speaking world. Andrew has a long history of public service in the field of the visual arts, having judged the Turner Prize, the BP National Portrait Prize and the Annual British Animation Awards, among many others. He has served on the Government Art Collection Committee, the Hayward Advisory Committee, and is currently a member of the board of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead. In the course of his career, Andrew has won numerous awards for writing and broadcasting.
Professor Claire Harman
Professor Claire Harman is a specialist in literary biography and literary history, and author of six books, including lives of Sylvia Townsend Warner, Frances Burney, Robert Louis Stevenson and Charlotte Brontë. She has taught at the universities of Manchester and Oxford, at Columbia University in New York City and, since 2016, Durham University. Claire has been awarded the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for biography, the Forward Prize for poetry and the ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award for short fiction. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, current President of the Alliance of Literary Societies and a judge of the PEN Ackerley Prize for memoir.
Amy Lamé has a long and successful track record as a leader and collaborator in the cultural and creative industries. She is co-founder of the Olivier Award-winning arts company and club night Duckie, and co-founded RVT Future, a voluntary LGBTQ+ community group campaigning to preserve the iconic Royal Vauxhall Tavern. She served as Mayoress of Camden in 2010–11, and is a familiar presence on TV, in print and on radio. Amy’s debut book, From Prejudice to Pride: A History of the LGBTQ+ Movement was published in June 2017. Amy has an Honorary Doctorate from the University of East London and is an Honorary Professor at University College London.
Dr Shini Somara
Dr Shini Somara is a Mechanical Engineer specialising in Computational Fluid Dynamics, a digital simulation tool used by engineers to visualise how gases and liquids flow. Shini is an honorary fellow of the Institution of Engineering Designers. She is also an author and broadcaster who translates complex scientific and technological subjects into engaging, accessible and informative content. A copy of her book – Engineers Making A Difference – has been given to every school in the UK.
Shini is a passionate advocate from Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) learning, particularly for girls, young women and communities experiencing barriers to participation. Her podcast, eSTEAMd Women, provides a platform for women in STEM to share their experiences and learnings. As a broadcaster, Shini has presented several innovation series, including on BBC1 and BBC World News. Sky, Discovery and The Science Channel. She has also hosted a number of educational series of physics and engineering videos on the Crash Course YouTube channel for PBS Digital Studios.
Shini will be starting her appointment from the 1st of January 2024.
Susie Thornberry is a director, producer and writer. She is currently Artistic Director at Metal Culture, which works to inspire positive social change through art and creativity; a trustee of Battersea Arts Centre; and a Commissioner of Historic England. She has experience across the arts including at Artichoke; The Tower of London; The Gate Theatre; and Imperial War Museums, where she was director of public engagement. As a writer, she was shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize.
Petroc Trelawny is one of the best-known voices on BBC Radio Three - where he presents the daily Breakfast programme. He was part of the commentary team for BBC Television’s coverage of the Coronation of King Charles III and the funeral of Her Majesty The Queen. He has presented BBC Proms on radio and television for more than two decades and introduces the annual live BBC broadcast of the Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Day Concert. In June he hosted BBC Television’s ‘Cardiff Singer of the World’ for the thirteenth time. He has presented the international telecast of Eurovision Young Musician to more than two dozen countries from Edinburgh and hosted Eurovision Choir live from Gothenburg. He presents performances by the Royal Ballet shown in cinemas around the world, and anchors note-by-note coverage of the Leeds Piano Competition for Medici.tv. He has written on travel, music and the arts for publications including The Observer, The Sunday Telegraph, The Spectator and Radio Times. He is currently writing a book about Cornwall to published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson next year. Petroc is President of the Lennox Berkeley Society, Luton Music and the Three Spires Singers and a trustee of Hall for Cornwall, the newly refurbished, world-class theatre in Truro.
Petroc will be starting his appointment from the 1st of January 2024.