A VOLUNTEER of nearly two decades features on the King’s Birthday Honours List.

Valerie Bryant has been named a Medallist of the Order of the British Empire (BEM) for her services to heritage and the community in Knutsford.

After 17 years as the volunteer manager at Knutsford Heritage Centre, Val retired last month.

She said: “Last year I decided it was time to step down as manager and in April, at the annual Town Awards ceremony, I was presented with a special award for my ‘outstanding contribution to the heritage of Knutsford’, which was a total surprise to me.

“Then I was told that my name was to be put forward in the King’s Birthday Honours 2024 for a ‘British Empire Medal - for service to the Heritage Centre and the Community of Knutsford’.

“This is a great honour and I am incredibly proud to accept this.”

READ MORE: 'I have loved every moment' - Heritage centre volunteer steps down after 17 years

Valerie BryantVal Bryant (Image: Knutsford Heritage Centre)

In 2006, Val retired from Quarry Bank Mill, having worked there for 27 years as the textile co-ordinator.

She decided she would put her time into giving something back into Knutsford, where she has now lived for 54 years.

In 2007 Val was introduced to Knutsford Heritage Centre, which was in danger of closing at the time.

“It would have been a sad loss for Knutsford,” said Valerie, who was quickly invited to become a trustee.

“It needed a lot of help to get the centre up and running again.

“I began by putting on a craft exhibition and starting the ‘Friends of Knutsford Heritage Centre’ to raise funds. Soon after I then became manager.”

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In 2012, 'disaster struck' when it was discovered that the Millennium Tapestry had been infected with carpet beetles.

With Val’s help, the centre raised more than £20,000 to help save the tapestry, with the panels now preserved in state-of-the-art museum display cases.

Over the years the centre has put on many exhibitions, including the 150th anniversary of Knutsford Royal May Day in 2014 and 1,000 years of King Canute in 2016.

In 2018 the centre won the Queens Award for Voluntary Service.

More recently, £4,000 has been raised to purchase a life-size wooden sculpture of King Canute, created by chainsaw artist Andy Burgess.

This was unveiled by Henry Brooks from the Tatton Estate and Danish Consul of Manchester, Augusta Thorarinsdottir.

The heritage centre is now on the lookout for someone to fill the big shoes left by Val.

A spokesperson said: “Congratulations to our recently retired former manager, Val Bryant, on receiving the BEM for her work with Knutsford Heritage Centre, focussing on the town's heritage and community.

“If you are interested in becoming a volunteer and helping us to build on Val's achievements over the last 17 years, please call in at the centre for more information.”