HTC's UK support site is still wilfully refusing to update and offer a download link for the new HTC Hero ROM, but that doesn't mean English language firmware updates aren't available elsewhere. Over at XDA Developers they're compiling a list of the various ROMs available, including a couple of "Worldwide English" versions, which promise to speed up the hesitant handset.
According to the forum, the updates aren't tampered with, fettled or tweaked in any way; they're just the way HTC intended. That means you won't get any of the fan features often cooked into Hero third-party ROMs - we've seen wireless tethering and other additions before now - but you also have the reassurance of legitimately blaming HTC if things go wrong.
We're expecting to see the UK update appear soon - HTC themselves have told us its imminent, they just couldn't say exactly how imminent - but as far as we can tell these English language ROMs offer exactly the same functionality. If you're ready for a slicker Hero and touch-focus in the smartphone's camera, then head on over.