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Local historian awarded BEM in New Year’s Honours list

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Michael McGarvie

LOCAL historian, Michael McGarvie, has been awarded a BEM in the New Year’s Honours list for his services to local history in Frome.

The 82-year old’s recognition comes weeks after he was given a personal achievement award for his work by Local History News, the magazine for the British Association for Local History.

Speaking to Frome Times about his BEM, Michael said, “I am very pleased – I have worked hard for nearly 50 years on the history of this area – and when I set out, there was nothing online, you had to travel about everywhere to get your information. In those days if you said you were doing something for local history, people would say that you ought to be doing something better – so I regard this honour as vindication of local history!

“Local history is part of the jigsaw of our national history, and it’s now getting the recognition that it deserves. And I also feel that this is not just a tribute to me, but a tribute to other people, who have sadly now died, who worked on the history of the district and produced written work on it. So I feel that it is a joint honour in the wider sense.”

Explaining the reasons behind Michael’s recognition on the New Year’s Honours list, a spokesperson from the Cabinet Office said, “Michael has been integral in promoting, recording and preserving local history in Somerset, volunteering his time for over 45 years. 

“He has been a leading campaigner and supporter for work to save listed buildings, especially in Frome, which has one of the largest collections of listed buildings in Somerset. 

“He has helped to raise funds for important building restorations as well as recording and promoting the area’s rich and varied history. 

“His detailed history of Marston House helped to persuade the local authority that the building should be saved from demolition. The house has been fully restored and he is now the archivist and historian to the current owner.

“As church warden at St Mary’s Orchardleigh, he secured and restored the royal coat of arms from the Orchardleigh House sale for the benefit of the community, agreed a significant grant from English Heritage for the restoration of the Lullington Church roof and wrote several historical books about the church estates.

“He has been an active member and supporter for a number of regional historical organisations and campaigns over many years, including the Somerset Record Society, Frome Museum, Hardington Church, the Ancient Monuments Society, Mells Manor and the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society.

“His Book of Frome is particularly popular, now in its fifth edition.”

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