Helen Maclagan is an independent heritage and cultural specialist, based in the West Midlands. Her interests include the engagement of local communities with the historic and natural environment and links between culture and health.
Having originally studied and trained as an archaeologist, Helen has a diverse career portfolio after having worked for some 20 years as Warwickshire County Council’s County Archaeologist, and latterly their Head of Heritage and Culture. During this time, she also played multiple key roles in national archaeological and heritage organisations. She then spent a year volunteering in Burkina Faso, West Africa, using culture in health education, particularly HIV-AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis and malnutrition.
Helen has been a member of numerous national committees in a voluntary capacity and is currently a member of the National Trust Specialist Advice Network. She joined the UK National Commission for UNESCO in December 2013, taking responsibility for the Culture Portfolio on the Board of Directors. Since then she has been involved with World Heritage Sites (particularly the UK Tentative List) and with issues around Underwater Cultural Heritage (each of these the subject of a UK National Commission Policy Brief).
Other areas of activity have related to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, the Cultural Protection Fund, to Culture and Conflict (with UKNC partners the Blue Shield Committee), and most recently – and currently – the role of Cultural Heritage in International Development. Whilst the work Helen has done with the Commission so far has been outstanding, there are still many culture-related challenges ahead, including how we might engage with intangible cultural heritage, the diversity of cultural expressions across the globe, and with broader issues around culture and development.
She was appointed OBE for services to culture and heritage in the 2019 New Year’s honours list.