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RIGHT CHORD: Berkhamsted resident receives BEM for services to violin making

 Published on: 5th July 2023   |   By: Darius Morgan   |   Category: Uncategorized

A man from Berkhamsted has received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for his services to violin making in His Majesty the King’s Birthday Honours List.

Colin Garrett, 81, who has always had a love of playing the violin and of woodwork, first became enamoured with the craft of violin making in the 1960s, when he began taking evening classes while working as a solicitor.

In the 1990s, Colin played a fundamental role in establishing the British Violin Making Association (BVMA). He also helped to create a separate company, BVMA Enterprises, to support the launch of its vast catalogue project, The British Violin, which documented 400 years of violin making.

Geoff Denyer, chairman of BVMA, said: “No other member of BVMA had the qualification or knowledge to undertake such a task and Colin’s time was entirely on a voluntary basis. Without Colin’s expertise and time, I feel this project and three further publications would not have taken place.

“Over the last 25 years, I have lost count of the number of times I have sought Colin’s advice on all manner of subjects, and he has always been willing to offer his time to help.”

For almost 20 years, Colin was also treasurer of the Rowan Armour-Brown Memorial Trust Fund, which helps young violin makers with financial awards and providing access to tools and wood.

Colin said: “Sometimes a maker would die, and I would make sure their specialist tools wouldn’t go to waste. I ran tool sales which would sell them at about 20 per cent of their usual cost, which would give the kids useful tools and put money in the kitty for financial awards for other students. Over the years, we probably helped more than 200 students.”

Colin currently serves as treasurer to registered charity Luthiers sans Frontieres-UK (LSF-UK), which teaches people in developing countries how to repair stringed instruments.

Rob Cain, chair of LSF-UK, described Colin as “a wise counsellor, a canny fundraiser and great guy to hang out with”.

Colin has now retired from violin making, but can often be found in the workshop making repairs.

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