On November 4th former Headmistress of Queen's School Diana Skilbeck MBE was presented with an Honorary Master of Arts degree by the University of Chester. She shares her experience of the occasion with us below.
The Honorary MA was in part to mark my contribution to education, especially in Cheshire, I have taught at primary schools - Mendell, Bromborough and Gayton - before going on to teach in the secondary schools Wirral Grammar School for Girls, West Kirby Grammar School, Sheffield High School and The Queen’s School, Chester. I trained for teaching at Furzedown College, London and, at a later date, gained a BA Hons in Geography and History. The MA pays tribute to the help and encouragement I have received from many people in the world of education.
The MA also marks my role as President of The Boat Museum Society. Mention was made of the early days when ‘she immersed herself and numbers of schoolchildren in the acrid silt of the Shropshire Union Canal!’
When His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, awarded my MBE in 2012, he was mindful, as Patron of the Canal and River Trust, of the vital contribution that the restoration of Britain’s canal infrastructure has made to the important heritage industry. The Orator recounted how I had found Telford’s buildings in a state of dereliction and had with many others ‘who had the intelligence to believe there were economic as well as conservational benefits to be had, have dug, built and fundraised, charmed donors, shamed politicians and fascinated visitors.’
He went on to say that we are champions, heroes and saviours of our past. ‘They have restored Ellesmere Port, now The National Waterways Museum, into a functioning and living port again.’
The orator went on to say that at 72 I am still involved in costume work, role play with school children and maintaining historic boats.
I may have been awarded the Honorary MA, but it reflects and represents the work done by past and present dedicated volunteers.
Miss Diana Skilbeck MBE, MA
Headmistress of The Queen’s School 1989-2001