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The Fitzwilliam Museum’s Head of Education has been honoured with an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2006. Over the last eighteen years, Frances Sword has built an award winning education service and has led the development of innovative teaching methods and programmes of work for a wide cross-section of the community. Whether for school pupils, people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or recovering from mental illness, patients on the cancer wards of Addenbrooke’s hospital, teachers, University students or visiting families, her work aims to engage and involve everyone in the joys of the Fitzwilliam’s wonderful collections.
"I am absolutely thrilled to receive such an honour," said Frances. "I regard it as an extraordinary accolade for my marvellous team at the Fitzwilliam and all the staff of the Museum without whom none of this could happen. It has been a wonderfully enriching experience bringing this fabulous collection alive for so many different types of people. Reaching many of these people would have been impossible without the dedicated work of all our partners and, for me, the award of this honour shows growing recognition of all those working in the field of museum education throughout the country."
Fitzwilliam Museum Director Duncan Robinson welcomed the news: ‘Frances Sword has been a wonderful colleague. I know that many thousands of people join us at the Museum in congratulating Frances on her honour, which recognises her outstanding contribution towards the enrichment of so many lives through art.’
The award of this honour coincides with Frances’ retirement from her post as Head of Education. Having trained as an artist and pursued a career in teaching before developing the Fitzwilliam’s education service and extending the Museum’s outreach into areas of mental health and social inclusion, with life-enhancing results for many of the participants, she now plans to return to her easel. Her outstanding achievements are warmly acknowledged and her vision, enthusiasm and determination will be sorely missed.