Driving force behind Milton Keynes Museum awarded MBE in New Year Honours List

MBEs also awarded to vice-chair of MK-Act for services to victims of domestic and vice-chair of Bletchley Park Trust

By Olga Norford
Friday, 31st December 2021, 10:25 pm

A man who has been the driving force behind Milton Keynes Museum for over 26 years, joining as a volunteer and being appointed its director five years later, has been recognised in the Queen's New Year honours list .

Bill Griffiths has been awarded an MBE for services to museums and the community in Milton Keynes.

Mr Griffiths, 77, whose name is synonymous with Milton Keynes Museum, has led its transformation from a humble private collection to an award-winning regional tourist attraction.

Bill Griffiths, director of Milton Keynes Museum, has been awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours List

In 2017 he expanded the museum when a new building featuring two large galleries was acquired. These galleries will tell the whole story of the Milton Keynes area from prehistory through to the creation of the UK’s most ambitious new town.

He persuaded MK Council, Garfield Weston, the Radcliffe Trust, Biffa and local businesses to invest in the £6million construction and is leading the campaign to fundraise an additional £1.2million needed to complete the exhibitions.

Wherever possible Mr Griffiths avoids putting things in cases, a philosophy which has seen the museum named one of the UK’s top 20 family friendly attractions in 2015, and win awards for the best Milton Keynes leisure attraction in both 2016 and 2017.

Over time he has recruited more than 200 dedicated volunteers, making MK Museum one of the largest volunteer-led museums in the UK and,following a serious fire which destroyed part of the farm building in 1996, he kept the museum open and rebuilt the barn, preserving the exhibition of historic agricultural equipment.

The stalwart is also credited with grpwing visitor numbers from 8,000 to 50,000 over the last 10 years, ensuring the museum is now financially sustainable.

And in 2017, he organised the first MK Living History Festival in central MK bringing history to life with children delighting in the re-enactments. His impressive education programme reaches 3,000 schoolchildren each year with relevant activities tied into the school curriculum.

Andrea Vincent, vice-chair MK-Act has also been honoured in the New Year Honours List.

Ms Vincent, 59, has been awarded an MBE in recognition of services to victims of domestic abuse.

As chair of MK-ACT when nominated, Ms Vincent was an influential partner in developing a ground-breaking new initiative to amplify the voice of girls and women and take a holistic approach to female empowerment and safety across the community focusing on early intervention, education and innovative services to deliver change.

She became a Trustee in 1995 and in 1998 oversaw the setting up of MK-ACT, the charity’s Trading Arm Company, a more inclusive organisation.

She led on a visionary partnership project with Milton Keynes Council and Bedfordshire Pilgrim Housing Association to co-design and construct a purpose-built refuge with separate safe and secure housing units for 20 families.

This opened in 2011 providing communal spaces, indoors and out, for women and their children to participate in a range of activities and integral support services.

In the same year she was elected chair of the board, in recognition of her significant impact on the charity which was by then a regional leader supporting all those that experienced Domestic Violence.

While most refuges exclude older male children, she established and defended the principle that MK-ACT should welcome male children into the refuge, up to the end of their 16th year, believing they are best living with their mothers in safety.

She secured three forms of accreditation for MK-ACT; in 2014 the Women’s Aid Federation for England highest level Quality Standards, and again in 2017, Leading Lights accreditation for the information, advice and support service, and in 2019 RESPECT quality standards for an innovative programme of work with perpetrators of domestic violence, alongside support for their partners. MK-ACT is one of very few Women’s Aid organisations to have been awarded all three accreditations.

Christopher Moore, vice-chair, Bletchley Park Trust and chair, FightforSight has been awarded an MBE for charitable and voluntary services to Heritage and to Visually Impaired People

Over the last three decades Mr Moore, 77, has served as vice-chair of Bletchley Park Trust, and previously chair of the Trust’s executive committee.

Twenty years ago, Bletchley Park, home of the pioneering and critical intelligence contributions in support of Allied military operations in the Second World War, was faced with closure and being redeveloped as a housing estate. Today it is a household name, and a museum dedicated to its unique history.

During his chairmanship annual visitor numbers rose from under 50,000 to more than 250,000.

As a pilot himself, he has taken an equal interest in FightforSight, the UK’s largest charity funding pioneering eye research, becoming a Trustee in 1993 before it merged with the Iris Fund in 2005 which he oversaw.

Illustrating one of the ground-breaking achievements following the merger and during his tenure as chair is the development of a treatment for Chloridaemia, an inherited condition that causes progressive vision loss, ultimately leading to complete blindness.

Beginning in 2005, the therapy progressed through various stages during the next ten years, finally achieving commercial application in 2015 able to offer the greatest benefit to the largest number of people.

He now acts as an effective ambassador for the charity in his role of chair.