Volunteers at the British Schools Museum in Hitchin have today been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the MBE for volunteer groups.


Chairman of the Hitchin British Schools Trust, Kevin Morgan, said: “It is indeed a great honour for our volunteers to receive this award. It recognises the magnificent work of some 150 volunteers at our museum. Today they welcome nearly 5,000 schoolchildren and an equal number of adult visitors each year, care for the museum’s nationally important Jill Grey Collection, and help maintain our heritage buildings.”


Plans are now being finalised for Her Majesty the Queen to present the award to representatives of the museum’s volunteers during her visit to Hitchin on Thursday 14th June.


Museum Manager Andy Gibbs said “To have won the award in this Diamond Jubilee year is a tremendous achievement and a great honour, but one which I believe to be well-earned by the incredible hard work, commitment, expertise and passion that have gone in to creating a truly unique and inspiring museum. To have the award presented, in Hitchin, by Her Majesty herself is truly a double honour”.

Terry Ransome, Trustee, Hitchin British Schools Trust. 2nd June 2012

The Museum

The museum opened its doors in 1994 – to a unique group of Grade 2 and 2* listed school buildings dating from 1837, 1853, 1857 and 1905. The site was where the first ‘monitorial’ or ‘Lancasterian’ school in Hertfordshire opened in 1810, for 200 boys and 100 girls. They were the children of the ‘labouring poor’. The 1837 Schoolroom at the museum is the only surviving example of a monitorial schoolroom in which 300 boys were taught by just one master.A school continued on the same site until 1969, when it became the Queen Street Activities Centre under Hitchin College. When it was to be sold for redevelopment in 1990, the Hitchin British Schools Trust was formed, and it acquired the site to set up a museum of elementary education. The museum was awarded the status of a nationally Accredited Museum in 2007.