21st Oct, 2018

Bromsgrove historian and author receives British Empire Medal in HM The Queen's New Year's Honours

A BROMSGROVE historian and author who has played key roles in a number of the town’s community organisations has been awarded a British Empire Medal in HM The Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

Jennie McGregor-Smith was handed the prestigious accolade for services to the community in Bromsgrove.

The 79-year-old was the co-founder of The Bromsgrove Society, literary organisation WORDS, Bromsgrove Junior Concert Club and Bromsgrove Arts Association (now Bromsgrove Arts Alive).

Jennie was also joint-secretary of Bromsgrove Concerts between 1976 and 1989 and chairman of the organisation between 1998 and 2009 and was a prime mover in starting the Bromsgrove Junior Concert Club in 1995.

She has also been a member of the Housman Society which she has supported for the past 30 years. She was one of four people who planned the 1996 celebrations of the poet which climaxed in a memorial to Housman in Poet’s Corner.

In her role in the Bromsgrove Arts Association she led the campaign for almost 20 years for an arts centre to be built in the town. In 2005 Artrix was built and since then has become an icon for what a local arts centre should be.

Jennie was the sole organiser of Celebrating English Song – a series of Sunday afternoon recitals that ran for 13 years and made a real contribution to the revival of interest in the genre.

She has also chaired the West Midlands Music Societies for more than 20 years and, among her accomplishments, have been the purchasing of a Steinway piano for use in the region and launching the Chamber Music Choice booklet which lists all chamber music concerts in the area.

In Finzi Friends she helped cement Gerald Finzi’s reputation as more than a ‘minor English composer’ and Jennie has been joint administrator of the Ludlow Weekend of English Song from its inception in 2001 (Finzi’s centenary year) to 2015.

Jennie has also been instrumental in the National Federation of Music Societies (which became ‘Making Music’ in 2001). She was chairman of the organisation from 1991 to 2004.

Her other achievements include being a caseworker for Bromsgrove in the Victorian Society and she has written several history books, including texts on Bromsgrove architect John Cotton, Greenhill in Blackwell and Bromsgrove to Aston Fields – a story of Victorian Expansion. She is now working on a book about Finstall.

Jennie told The Standard: “I was completely overwhelmed when I found out.

“Nobody does the things I have been doing because they want to get an award so it is nice for something like this to come out of the blue.

“People have been so kind and I really appreciate being recognised in this way.”

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