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
Chairman - Peter Sheldon
Peter Sheldon has been part of Bewnans Kernow from its inauguration and is one of the two members of the original Bewnans Kernow Steering Group. Peter is also the Secretary of the Cornish Wrestling Association and has been a leading figure in Cornish Wrestling since he attended Truro Cathedral School. Peter was made a Bard of Gorsedh Kernow in 2020.
Vice-Chair - Len Sheppard
Len Sheppard is a leading proponent for the development of Cornish heritage. He is the Executive for the Association of Cornish Heritage, Chair of Newquay Old Cornwall Society, Co-ordinator of the award winning Newquay Heritage Archive & Museum, a Bard of Gorsedh Kernow and Publicity Officer for the Federation of Old Cornwall Societies and Vice-Chair of Celtic Congress Cornwall.
Hon Treasurer - Ian Summers MBE
Ian Summers is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy who has over 40 years’ experience in public finance with the National Audit Office, and more recently the Wales Audit Office and the National Assembly for Wales as its Finance and Governance Adviser. He was also the Hon Treasurer of the Welsh Refugee Council. Ian is a Non-executive Audit Committee Member of the Northern Ireland Office and is semi-retired and living in Cornwall where he is a member of Cornwall's oldest Male Voice Choir.
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.
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 has recently gained a Masters Degree in History.
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 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.