Institute of Archaeology


Award for Waterloo Uncovered charity founded by Institute alumni

11 March 2020

Institute alumni Mark Evans and Major Charles Foinette have received a Points of Light award for their exceptional service founding the charity ‘Waterloo Uncovered’ which unites rehabilitating veterans with ground-breaking archaeological excavations of the Waterloo battlefield.

Veteran on the Waterloo Uncovered project 2019 (Image © Chris Van Houts)

Mark Evans and Charles Foinette joined the Coldstream Guards after both studying together at the UCL Institute of Archaeology. Returning from Afghanistan in 2010, Mark was diagnosed with PTSD, and his recovery was supported by Charles over four years. Mark began by participating in a Ministry of Defence project supporting veterans through archaeology. He and Charles then set up their own project to mark the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo in 2015.

Since then, their initiative has grown into the registered charity ‘Waterloo Uncovered’, which runs annual excavations and has established a 12-month programme of support to help veterans through their recovery. Over 5,000 objects have been excavated from the battlefield, helping to create new understandings of one of the most famous battles in history.

Mark and Charles are the latest recipients of the Points of Light award, which recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements. Both Mark and Charles received personnal communications from the Prime Minister last month confirming their award.

According to Mark:

Waterloo Uncovered has been using archaeology to add to the story of the Battle of Waterloo since 2015. Just as important as the history is the project’s ability to change lives today. There's an urgent need to support veterans and serving personnel in overcoming some of the physical and mental impacts of their service. Charlie and I realised that archaeology could play a part in reaching out to people in need of help with their recovery. Through taking part in the dig, veterans and serving personnel have the chance to mix in a safe and supported environment, learn new skills, deepen their interest in history and perhaps find the inspiration for new options for the future. What began as a small-scale dig has developed into a twelve month programme supporting participants with recovery, wellbeing, transition into civilian life, education and employment. We couldn’t achieve this without the collaboration of a number of charities and the NHS. We’re delighted that this award recognises us for our relevance today."

Mark and Charles are the 1313th and 1314th winners of the Points of Light award, which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA. Over 6,000 Points of Light have been awarded in the USA, and former Presidents have publicly supported the partnership with Points of Light UK. There is a similar cross-party approach to the UK programme and MPs from different parties often present their constituents with their Points of Light awards, honouring shining examples of volunteering across the UK.

Charles said:

Waterloo Uncovered brings an amazing team together: we’ve got world-class archaeologists working alongside veterans, serving personnel, students and a range of volunteers from different walks of life and specialisms. We’re proud, too, that there’s a significant presence on the dig from some of the other European nations who share with us the history of the battle and alongside whom we still serve today. What enabled us to kick-start our work was a contribution of funds from LIBOR and the Armed Forces Covenant Trust. It’s a great example of how Government support can make a real difference to the welfare of veterans and serving personnel.”

UCL Institute of Archaeology degree programmes enable students to experience a full range of theoretical, analytical and field methods as well as museums and heritage theory and practice. 

The MA in Public Archaeology programme, which Charles completed, provides students with an understanding of the different means of communicating archaeology to the public, and of the real-world political, educational, social, economic and moral/ethical dimensions of public archaeology from a global perspective. Mark completed the MA in Museum Studies programme which equips students with a range of skills that they can apply in any museum and help develop critically aware perspectives on professional practice and research processes.

The Institute congratulates Mark and Charles on their endeavours. Students from UCL continue to work with the charity on some of their public engagement activities while Tim Schadla Hall is a Waterloo Uncovered trustee.

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