Meet our committees: Joff Whitten

Joff Whitten, Committee Member for the East of England
From guitarist to Gressenhall workhouse - Committee Member for the East of England Joff Whitten reveals his heritage journey.

Why did you want to join an HLF committee?

I was excited about applying to join HLF because of its three main outcomes - for heritage, people and communities, three things that are very dear to me. 

I'm a normal person from a normal background. The first career I wanted to pursue was archaeology; I fell out of love with school though and began dropping out of formal education from the age of 16 when I discovered guitar playing. 

“Following a joyous but not really successful career as a musician, in my late 20s I decided to undertake a BA in Fine Art. This led me to a career working across the arts.”

Following a joyous but not really successful career as a musician, in my late 20s I decided to undertake a BA in Fine Art. This led me to a career working across the arts and I'm now at ACE Bridge for Norfolk and Suffolk. My roles so far have all been about learning and engagement.

I am so pleased to be doing the committee role for HLF as it feels like I have returned to my childhood enthusiasm for archaeology and history, but also get to use all my skills and knowledge in regards to learning and engagement, for audiences of all backgrounds.

What do you like about it?

I think the committee structure is really strong; the East of England committee is particularly wonderful, very committed and knowledgeable and I am honoured to be part of the group. The other members are fascinating - really diverse and experienced, with a good sense of humour. We have a lot of fun among our serious discussions!

What have you learned from the role so far and how has it benefited you?

A heck of a lot. I've learned about organisational resilience and about the whole process of granting and so much about all the different sectors of heritage we work with. I've also learned a bit more about negotiation and diplomacy, skills I have found incredibly valuable in my day job!

What has most surprised or challenged you?

It's not easy - but in a good way, a fulfilling way. I have found a way of fitting it alongside my day job: it has really helped my thinking and planning skills.

What would you say to anyone who is thinking about joining an HLF committee?

Don't feel daunted! HLF is incredibly welcoming, the training is very good and the team in the office are fantastic. If you're at a mid-career point, as I believe I am, it's a great bit of CPD - an extra piece of armoury to go in your toolkit. Committees are much stronger if the voices around the table come from different perspectives and backgrounds.

“Committees are much stronger if the voices around the table come from different perspectives and backgrounds.”

What is your favourite HLF-supported project?

There are so many. There's Tales from the Workhouse at Gressenhall in Norfolk, which is all about how we recontextualise and understand workhouses in the 21st century. Also The Eighth in the East, about the impact the American Airforce being based in East Anglia had during the Second World War. I also deeply love the Breaking New Ground project, a Landscape Partnership project happening in the Brecks and on my doorstep.

Find out more

Discover more about our East of England committee and find current vacancies on our Board & committee recruitment page.

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