A St Albans man has been recognised for his exceptional service to the UK’s heritage sector following 40 years of volunteer work at St Albans Cathedral.

Stephen de Silva won Ecclesiastical's Heritage Hero Lifetime Award on Wednesday, February 26, at an event hosted at the Tower of London.

The award - which was sponsored by specialist insurer Ecclesiastical - celebrates Stephen's dedicated and transformative volunteering efforts for the cathedral during the past 40 years.

From coordinating the launch of a new exhibition in order to bring more visitors, to fundraising to futureproof the cathedral, this award celebrates the many hours Stephen has volunteered.

Stephen de Silva, said: "Meeting our visitors and working with the staff at St Albans Cathedral has enriched my life in countless ways. Being a Heritage Hero is the icing on the cake.

"Thank you so much for recognising the work of volunteers - we are often at the heart of so many great heritage sites."

Peter Ainsworth, chair of the Heritage Alliance and Faith Kitchen, heritage director at Ecclesiastical, presented the award.

Stephen received a framed original Pugin-designed tile from the Palace of Westminster as a token of gratitude.

The awards ceremony coincided with Heritage Day - the key event in the heritage sector calendar - with speakers including Sir Tim Laurence, Chair of English Heritage, and the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism.

Faith Kitchen said: "As the leading insurer of Grade I listed buildings in the UK, we're passionate about Britain's heritage.

"We're proud to sponsor the Heritage Heroes Awards, and this year celebrates two incredibly deserving winners for their outstanding contribution to the heritage sector. Congratulations Stephen!"

Peter Ainsworth added: "A true Heritage Hero is a person who generously gives time and knowledge to creating and preserving beautiful places and objects, often under the radar, for the benefit of everyone.

"They make a huge contribution to their community by making local places and stories more loved and accessible. Stephen is a true inspiration."