Alumnus awarded British Empire Medal

John Smith BEM

RBC alumnus and Honorary Fellow John Smith has been awarded the British Empire Medal for services to music and charity in the 2023 King's Birthday Honours.

The medal will be presented by His Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands Sir John Crabtree OBE at an investiture to take place in the autumn.

John studied violin at RBC in the 1960s and maintained a strong connection to the Conservatoire as an Honorary Member and Committee Member of RBC Association (RBCA) for more than 20 years.

RBCA is a charitable organisation that supports students through bursaries and activities, as well as organising reunions for alumni, former staff, parents, friends and external stakeholders who support its charitable objectives.

John is also RBC’s Honorary Archivist, which is also a voluntary role.

John said: “I was amazed, surprised and humbled when I was told that my name had been put forward for an award. I was asked if I wished to accept or decline! I accepted on behalf of all those people who have supported me over many years on the Friends of Birmingham Schools' Orchestras (FBSO) and RBCA Committees, as well as those who have donated so generously to the monies I have raised for Birmingham Hospice - the sum currently stands at over £47,000.”

RBC Principal Stephen Maddock OBE said: “This is a notable achievement for one of our honorary fellows – congratulations John! Your outstanding contribution and diligent service to RBC through the years is greatly appreciated.”

Emeritus Professor in Performing Arts Julian Lloyd Webber commented: “I am delighted that John has been honoured as he deserves recognition. John has worked tirelessly and selflessly for RBC for many years and with no thought of seeking reward for himself. His entirely voluntary work as archivist at the Conservatoire proved absolutely invaluable both to me and to all RBC’s staff during my time as Principal. John is truly ‘one of our own’!”

Chair of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Association Tony Bridgewater said: “During my time on the RBCA Committee, I have seen how dedicated John is, not only to the welfare and support of current students, but also to maintaining and promoting links with literally hundreds of alumni and other RBCA members. He has always shown a keen eye for detail, and I have been grateful to him on many occasions for his advice and suggestions, drawing on his time in the Association.”

Former Chair of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Association Rosemary Phillips added: “John’s award of the British Empire Medal is very well deserved, following his 20 years of incredibly loyal service as BCA/RBCA Honorary Secretary and three years as a RBCA Committee Member. During this time, his commitment to RBC and RBCA went well beyond his job description, as did his commitment to his other charity work in Birmingham.”

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