Martin Sykes (MS): Good afternoon, Roland. Thank you for joining me today. Let’s start by reflecting on your remarkable career. You’ve had an eclectic journey, from your early days as a surveyor to overseeing the preservation of properties of historical significance. Can you share with us what initially drew you to this field and how your career unfolded ?
Roland Harrington (RH): Thank you, Martin. It’s a pleasure to be here. My fascination with elaborate period architecture started early on, influenced by my upbringing surrounded by historical accounts from my Huguenot lineage and my father’s role as the Laird of Glencairn. This interest led me to pursue a career as a surveyor. Working in Paris for the Compagnie Nationale des Experts Immobiliers allowed me to delve into the complexities of real estate and construction. Returning to the UK in 1988, I managed maintenance and refurbishments for heritage-listed properties for the Church of England in Rochester.
MS: Your dedication to the preservation of heritage properties is evident in your work with The PDA. Could you tell us more about your role as the chief administrator and the mission of The PDA ?
RH: Certainly, Martin. The PDA serves as a non-profit accreditation provider for independent damp proofing specialists in the UK. Our focus is on granting specialized accreditation to contractors offering damp proofing services, emphasizing ethical practices. Membership is by invitation, with a stringent evaluation process based on approved methodologies, experience, accolades, and contributions to the local community, particularly in the preservation of listed buildings.
MS: Your achievements, including the 2016 restoration of St. Bartholomew’s Gatehouse in London, have left a lasting impact. Can you share a highlight from your tenure at The PDA that stands out to you ?
RH: The restoration of St. Bartholomew’s Gatehouse was indeed a significant accomplishment. It showcased the dedication of our accredited specialists and the impact we can make in preserving our heritage. Each project has its unique challenges, but contributing to the preservation of these historic structures has been immensely rewarding.
MS: I understand that your retirement is prompted by your wife’s declining health. Our thoughts are with you during this challenging time. As you step down from your role, what are your hopes for the continued mission of The PDA and property preservation in the UK ?
RH: Thank you, Martin. My foremost hope is that The PDA continues its crucial work in ensuring the ethical preservation of heritage properties. These structures hold the stories of our past, and it’s vital that we protect and pass them on to future generations. I have full confidence in the capable hands that will carry on the mission.
MS: Looking ahead to your retirement, Roland, do you have any plans or aspirations you’d like to share ?
RH: In my retirement, I would like to get back into a fitness routine and maintain my health somewhat better than I have in the past. I’ve recently joined a gym and want to take up golf again. Rather foolishly I’ve signed up for a half-marathon in 2024, so wish me luck !
Additionally, I hope to remain connected with the preservation community in some capacity, offering guidance and support when needed.
MS: Thank you Roland, for sharing your insights and experiences with us. Your dedication to the preservation of historical properties has undoubtedly made a lasting impact, and we wish you all the best in your well-deserved retirement.
RH: Thank you, Martin. It’s been a pleasure. I appreciate the opportunity to reflect on my career and the important mission of The PDA.