For our regular business column in County Lifestyle & Leisure Magazine, Ruby's 'In conversation' with Elizabeth Eyre from the Broadway Museum and Art Gallery.

In conversation with… Elizabeth Eyre

by | Jun 30, 2021

For our regular business column in County Lifestyle & Leisure Magazine, Ruby’s ‘In conversation’ with Elizabeth Eyre: why she received the order of the British Empire Medal and life lessons from the vice-chairman of the Broadway Museum and Art Gallery.

This month, Ruby chats with Elizabeth Eyre, a woman with several strings to her bow, a local County Councillor, a District Councillor previously a member of the Worcestershire Council Cabinet for Social Care and Education. Elizabeth was a founder member of the Cotswold Conservation Board and for the last five years, until March, its Chairman. She is also the Vice Chairman of the Broadway Museum and Art Gallery. Here’s what Elizabeth has to say:

My alarm goes off and…
I start to think through the 5 highest priorities of the day, as I prepare a good breakfast, lots of fruit, and eggs.

How did you start doing what you’re doing?
It was not planned. Having left my international management role at an American Software Company, to manage the care of a family member, working from home I took on several writing and editorial jobs. When that person died, six years later, it was time to get back to a regular timetable. I was recommended to stand as a County Councillor: it seemed a good first step. Within a short period of time I was promoted to Cabinet Member responsible for children and young people’s social care and education. I stepped down after 13 years. Addressing the concerns of the electorate, 7,500 in my case, fitted my skillset, is frustrating, but rewarding, when successful. When I was denied documents to follow up on a local issue by the District Council, because I was not a District Councillor, I became a District Councillor as well!

I am also on the Fire Authority and having been the Chairman of the Cotswold Conservation Board I have gracefully slipped back to the role of a back bencher.

I have led on many community issues: a major play park, several flood protection schemes but setting up Broadway Museum and Art Gallery has required more than my initial support. So, I now have five areas of activity to support: the key to a balanced life is prioritisation and planning.

My typical day…
Currently all my roles are home based. I fit in calls and emails around Zooms. Work will always include progressing key issues for residents, currently HGVs and speeding, progressing a bid for funding for the Museum, and planning issues. A speed-reading course in the 70’s has served me well…

You’re responsible for?
The operations and project funding at the Museum, funding for local and conservation board projects, planning at District level, as well as resident issues as a District and County Councillor – many and varied, some personal and some community.

What worries you?
In my role you could easily worry yourself silly: you can’t ever clear the desk and get to the end. High priorities are the security and financial stability of the Museum, making incremental steps on all the resident’s issues to achieve outcomes – not always possible – and ensuring I get back to everyone.

What are your highlights?
My 13 years on Worcestershire Cabinet with responsibility for Social Care and Education – for which I received the BEM – my 20 years supporting the Cotswolds, its progress from a Partnership Board to a full Conservation Board: my 5 years as its Chairman, enabling me to lead on its bid to be a National Park. My role in achieving many large and small flood alleviation schemes in Broadway, taking the worry off residents’ shoulders, being instrumental in the creation of a fantastic activity park for children in Broadway, raising the capital to convert the transition of a leased building in Broadway to become the Broadway Museum and Art Gallery, working in partnership with the Ashmolean in Oxford and raising the profile on the importance of design in local planning decisions.

What’s the key to your success?
Patience, keeping calm in a crisis, being ‘can do’, never saying I don’t know how to do something, using the power of YouTube and Google search to find out about things and, most importantly, talking to people and visiting sites where the problem is.

Who or what has been your biggest influence?
The strength of my upbringing, supportive yet encouraging to explore and be curious.

What’s on your to do list?
I have 6 books to write – all are started, none are finished – weekend hobbies, as I need outcomes for me too.

Biggest bugbear?
Someone who says: “I don’t know how to do that”, which generally means: “I am pushing it on to your shoulders because I know you will sort it.”

What you wanted to be when you grew/grow up?
A Doctor but I did not have the Latin needed at that time – I went to a Lady’s College where Latin was not taught.

Where can you mostly be found after work?
These days, at home. I love cooking, sometimes I cook a recipe of a country and travel there using ‘YouTube’. I recently went to Peru and climbed to Macchu Picchu without getting breathless!

Best piece of advice you’ve received?
I carry two scraps of paper with me at all times:

One written by an elderly resident in Childswickham:

“Rise to the day that calls to you outside the windowpane, make it a day of happiness come cloud come rain.”

One from my mother:

“As you get older you notice twinges and things starting to creak – just ignore them.”

Your party piece?

Aged 4 – we did not have childcare in my day – I went to Mrs and Mrs Alderson, a childless couple who lived nearby. Tuesday was baking day: I stood on a stool and kneaded, pummelled, moulded and sifted all morning. The outcome: bread, scones, pies, biscuits, shortbread, so I could give Paul Hollywood a run for his money!

What’s next? How do people find out about you?

More importantly, take a look at our Museum and its current special exhibition, it really is a treat. Or Google, email me, text me, message me, call and have a chat: 01386 859047, 07801 816755 or admin@broadwaymuseum.org.uk.

Broadway Museum & Art Gallery is a community venture that has been supported by local organisations, businesses and Broadway residents. All have helped to transform an historic building in a beautiful village into a thriving independent museum. For more about the exhibition, please click here.

As seen in County Lifestyle & Leisure Magazine. Take a look at all of our conversations here.

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