About Us

Bewnans Kernow: A Brief History


Following a Cornwall County Council Cultural Strategy sector consultation conference held in November 2008, Cornwall County Council and Gorsedh Kernow worked together to develop a network of Cornish cultural organisations, with Bewnans Kernow constituted as an Unincorporated Community Organisation to provide support, development and representation for the sector.  The name Bewnans Kernow, meaning ‘Cornish Life’ in Cornish, was chosen by the Grand Bard at the time, Vanessa Beeman. Colin Roberts, as Administrator, was instrumental in setting up and developing the organisation in its early years. During several early meetings a wide range of Cornish cultural groups were drawn together to discuss the development of the Cornish cultural sector.  Bewnans Kernow was provided with funding of £5,000 in 2009 and £25,000 in 2010 by Cornwall Council until the Austerity measures of 2010 had the result of this support being terminated. This led to an end to the proposed development of Bewnans Kernow into a resourced umbrella organisation and the cessation of the Administrator’s post.


Initially, Bewnans Kernow’s Steering Group members delivered a pared down service on a voluntary basis.  Funding was accessed for a training and networking programme for Cornish cultural organisations. In 2014 Bewnans Kernow was awarded funding from the People’s Health Trust to run the first large scale community project based on Cornish identity.  This two-year project was the ‘Penwith Points of View’ project which had two main strands – a series of sixteen courses on Cornish culture delivered by experts and weekly local history meetings for people. In 2017, Bewnans Kernow received charitable status from the Charity Commission as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (no. 1170991).  The Bewnans Kernow Board has grown in number and capacity and Trustees have considerable organisational and practical experience in, and knowledge of, Cornish culture and heritage.  Bewnans Kernow is now in the process of launching a three year programme which will establish a Cornish History and Culture Centre in Penzance.

Who We Are

Bewnans Kernow Trustees

Chair - Len Sheppard

Len Sheppard is a leading proponent for the development of Cornish heritage. He is the Executive for Kowethas Ertach Kernow (Association of Cornish Heritage), Chair of Kowethas Kernow Goth Tewynblustri (Newquay Old Cornwall Society), Co-ordinator of the award winning Newquay Museum, a Bard of Gorsedh Kernow and Vice-Chair of Celtic Congress Cornwall. Len presents illustrated talks on many aspects of Cornish history and cultural heritage to schools, colleges and groups throughout Cornwall. As a voluntary heritage journalist he contributes the 'Ertach Kernow' heritage column in the Voice newspapers, published weekly in six editions throughout Cornwall, and a YouTube channel along with various social media platforms.  

Director - Jane Howells

Jane Howells has steered the development of Bewnans Kernow since 2010 and has gained resources for and delivered its projects.  Jane is also the Secretary of the educational charity Cornish Quest and a sector leader on matters around the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. Jane is a former Secretary of the St Piran in Penzance Committee, the organiser of the nine day Cornish Language Festival in Penzance (2017) and a former Director of Penwith's local radio station, Coast FM.

Secretary - Gillian Thomas

Gill is Cornish born and bred from a long line of fishermen in Newlyn and market gardeners from the Madron area. She attended the Penzance Girls Grammar School, gained a degree in sociology and psychology, post graduate social work and a masters in IT and Strategic Management before returning to her native land to retire. Gill is a hobby photographer and enjoy painting as well as colliwomples with the dogs around Penwith countryside. 

Minuting Secretary - Angela Angove

Angela Angove has campaigned for Cornish rights for over thirty years.  She is the Chairman of the educational charity Cornish Quest, a founding member of Cornish Solidarity and a member of the Red River Singers choir which performs traditional Cornish carols and pub songs.

Education Officer - Chris Denley

Chris Denley is the former Head of Cape Cornwall School and former Chair of the Penwith Pupil Referral Unit.  Chris is a Director of the Pendynas education provider, a St Just Town Councillor and holds a Masters Degree in History.

Mike Cawley

Mike Cawley is a long standing member of the Bewnans Kernow Board and the Chairman of the Cornish Wrestling Association.  Mike is a former Cornish Wrestling Champion and a Bard of the Cornish Gorsedh.

Helen Rawe

Helen Rawe has a deep involvement with Cornish culture. As a Cornwall County Councillor she chaired the successful bid for World Heritage Site status for the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape. Helen is a Trustee of the Cornwall Heritage Trust, the Chairman for Wadebridge and District Museum, Vice President of Wadebridge Old Cornwall Society and former Director of the St Piran's Trust.

Bewnans Kernow Remembers

Peter Sheldon - Passing of Chair of Bewnans Kernow and Secretary of The Cornish Wrestling Association

Bewnans Kernow Chairperson Peter Sheldon veteran Cornish wrestling champion and Secretary of the Cornish Wrestling Association passed away in October 2023. Peter had been involved with Cornish wrestling since he wrestled as a schoolboy whilst attending Truro Cathedral School, remaining a leading figure in Cornwall’s national sport throughout his life.

An original member of the Bewnans Kernow Steering Group, he was chairperson of Bewnans Kernow when 'Cornish Heritage in Penzance' was setup. Peter was made a Bard of Gorsedh Kernow in 2020 for a lifetime's service to Cornish Wrestling taking as his bardic name Omdowler Lannwedhenek meaning Wrestler of Padstow. Peter was a real gentleman and will be sorely missed by many especially the Cornish wrestling community.

Published: October 2023

Peter Sheldon at Gorsedh Kernow Bardic Ceremony in 2020