Remarkable contribution to Manx culture recognised

Wed, 06 Apr 2016

Charles filming on South Barrule
Charles filming on South Barrule

After almost 25 years’ service as an officer of the Manx Heritage Foundation, now Culture Vannin, Charles Guard, retired at the end of March. The occasion was marked by a small gathering of board members and officers and the presentation of a gift to mark his long-service to public life. Charles’ contribution to Manx culture has been, and will no doubt continue to be remarkable, as his formal retirement by no means marks the end of his love of Manx culture but merely a new phase of how he will go about it.

A talented musician, broadcaster, film-maker, recording engineer, producer, editor and public speaker, Charles pioneered the communication of Manx culture and history to the wider public. He is perhaps best known for his work in writing, producing and presenting his videos, DVDs and films online, ‘Curiosities of the Isle of Man’ unlocking many of the Island’s secrets and ‘The Isle of Man from the Air’ offering us the opportunity to appreciate our beautiful land and seascape from a new angle. Through his work for Culture Vannin, he pioneered the publication of books on Manx subjects over several decades, ensuring that the insights of research were always accessible and, most importantly, readable. He championed the collection of memories through oral history recordings, and documented the changing face of the Isle of Man and its people in audio-visual archives which are freely available online. His talents as a musician and composer were often integrated into his work, and he has composed music for television and film, and for live performances by symphony orchestra and military band. Charles is always in demand as a public speaker, and for his tours of historic buildings and sites such as St Thomas’ Church in Douglas and the WWII bunkers at Bride.

Born and educated on the Isle of Man, Charles studied music at the Royal College of Music in London. After a time living in Ireland, where he was at the forefront of Irish harp scene, he returned home to start work as a presenter and news editor with Manx Radio. He pioneered the station’s first live stereo broadcasts in the early 1980s. He started working with the then Manx Heritage Foundation under the Chairmanship of Speaker Jim Cain. From a part-time post as Administrator, he developed the work of the cultural charity, publishing just under 30 books, DVDs, videos and CDs, as well as organising events, recording oral history and much, much more. In April 2014, he took up a new role as Archives and Projects Manager, focussing on selected projects and online resources. His work was often in partnership with the Department of Education and Children, developing all too important resources for students so that they could understand and come to love our Island home as much as he did – all in all, Charles Guard’s contribution to the understanding of Manx culture is an inspiring legacy for future generations.

Chair of Culture Vannin, Hon Phil Gawne MHK, reflected on Charles’ work to promote and protect our culture and heritage: “Charles has helped us reinterpret and rebuild our understanding of what it is to be Manx. He has captured the imaginations of young and old, Manx born and new residents, academics and casual observers and allowed us to better understand the importance of our small Island nation in a global context.”

“It has been my great privilege to have worked with Charles for nearly twenty years. He has provided me and many others with excellent advice and support in whatever Manx cultural endeavour we have pursued. Film-maker, researcher, producer, editor, archivist, preservationist, holder of a deep knowledge of all things Manx and a very good friend, Charles has significantly influenced the cultural life of our Island through his work at Culture Vannin. I am sure that his retirement will see the beginning of a new phase of creativity for Charles and he will continue to inspire us for many years to come!”

You can still enjoy videos made by Charles (and others) on this website, where you’ll find a whole host of free material to help you enjoy our culture!