The Foundation for Jewish Heritage is delighted to announce the appointment of Neil Richardson as Project Manager for the Merthyr Tydfil synagogue/Welsh Jewish Heritage Centre project.
Neil comes to the position with a wealth of experience in the heritage sector, most recently serving as Interim Director of Insole Court in Cardiff. His role will be to drive forward the Heritage Centre project and oversee a number of consultants who will work on the next Development Phase.
The grade II listed Merthyr synagogue ceased operating in 1983 and the building has been empty since 2006, its condition deteriorating. The Foundation for Jewish Heritage, which works on preserving Jewish heritage at risk, bought the site in 2019. Since that time, urgent repairs have been carried out with the support of Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service. The site was visited by the now King Charles III in 2021.
In 2022, funding was secured from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to pursue the vision of creating a Welsh Jewish Heritage Centre on the synagogue site, with match funding provided by the Welsh Government and Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council.
The Welsh Jewish Heritage Centre is a national initiative that will present the 250+ year history of the Welsh Jewish community while also promoting cross-cultural dialogue, addressing contemporary issues relating to diversity within Welsh society. The appointment of Neil is another important step in realising the project.
Stephen Goldman, chair of the Heritage Centre Steering Committee commented, ‘we are delighted to welcome Neil on board this unique project, and are very much looking forward to working with him. We have been making steady progress since buying the synagogue in 2019 and Neil’s extensive experience will be vital as we now take on the Development Phase’.
Michael Mail, Chief Executive of the Foundation for Jewish Heritage added, ‘in Neil we have found someone with all the required skills and expertise that the project needs to take us through the National Lottery process. Neil will manage this and will work with a number of consultants to fully clarify the nature of the project and its potential impact. We are excited to have Neil join us.’
Neil Richardson remarked, ‘the synagogue is of national significance, with a heritage that has relevance not only to Merthyr Tydfil, but to Wales and to the UK. The project will ensure the building is saved, and that the experiences and stories of the Jewish community in Wales are valued and celebrated. These are stories that resonate today. I am delighted to be a part of this exciting project and look forward to working with the Foundation, the Steering Committee and the local community in Merthyr Tydfil to secure a sustainable future for this beautiful building.’