The VAR Initiative:      or

Project co-ordinator: Katherine Banner, Darlington office

Stone Academy research and development team: Ewan Allinson & Denise Charlton -Teesdale office

STONE Festival team: Peter Coverdale- director/ K Banner-co-ordinator/ Deinise Charlton-education/ Ewan Allinson-Liaison/ Russ Coleman- facilitator / Sarah Comerford- Marketing/ Louise Plant- Lead Sculptor/

Project lead for the Research and Development three year programme-THE STONE ACADEMY: Peter Coverdale, The VAR Initiative director




Tel: 07793617377

Directors of The VAR Initiative:

Peter Coverdale

After completing an apprenticeship as a Banker Mason and gaining a Distinction at the Building Crafts Training School in London, Peter together with his wife Susan established P & S Coverdale Masonry Contractors Ltd. Their work has evolved from stonemasonry and carving to include not only building conservation and repair but also the sympathetic adaptation and extension of historic structures, including the restoration of many Listed Buildings working closely with English Heritage.   They are currently working for the North of England Civic Trust on the restoration of Gayle Mill, one of the entrants in the BBC “Restoration” competition.

Peter Kempsey

Peter is a Registered Architect, having qualified in 1973. After the contrast of working in local authority offices in the North of England and spending two years as an architect in the West Indies, he established Countryside Consultants in 1983.   The range of projects is wide with a distinct orientation towards conversion and restoration of historic and interesting buildings.   Peter has been fortunate to have responsibility for projects involving three mediaeval castles, various bastle houses and many other Listed Buildings and Scheduled Monuments in the company portfolio. He is in the process of applying for accreditation as an architect specialising in building conservation.

Sonia Kempsey

Sonia is a planning consultant and has been a Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) since 1973. Her interest in vernacular architecture and historic buildings developed with planning positions working in the Cotswolds, the Scottish Highlands and Whitehaven Georgian Town Centre, before co-founding Countryside Consultants in 1983. She recently spent nearly three years providing planning advice for farm diversification projects throughout North Yorkshire. The project involved a wide variety of vernacular styles and local variations.   She is committed to ensuring that our rural heritage is retained for future generations to enjoy.

Martin Clark

Martin has a background in Forestry having been Joint Head of the National School of Forestry at Newton Rigg in the early 1990’s.   He is a Co-Director of the forestry consultancy company Clark Mactavish Limited, and over the last 14 years Martin and his staff at Grampus Heritage & Training Ltd have operated Europe’s largest international vocational training programme with partners in 32 European states. His interest in vernacular architecture stems from 1997 when he wrote the EU “Raphael” supported project “Preserving and Reconstructing Ancient Buildings of Wood” followed by a EU “Culture 2000” project in 2005 as a partner in “European Vernacular Architecture Cultural Exchange”.


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