|17 Oct 2023
In June 2023, OC John Smith (60) was delighted to be awarded a British Empire Medal in the King's Birthday Honours for his services to music and charity. A life-long devotee of classical music, he has entertained thousands of people through a programme of talks and concerts, changing the lives of many through music!
John's musical journey started in the 1950s when he was a student at Churcher's College. It was during these years that John first picked up a violin, taking lessons from a music teacher who used to travel by train from London.
His devotion to the violin continued after John left school, when while working at Cadburys, John took part in an in-house Bournville Works Festival and won a scholarship for part-time violin lessons at the Birmingham School of Music.
Twenty years later, when his three children (a violinist and two cellists) played in orchestras that were run on a Saturday morning by Birmingham Music Services, John found himself helping out with Friends of Birmingham Schools' Orchestras, where he helped to fundraise for the refreshment counters at the schools they used each week, as well as overseas trips. He was soon given the role of Secretary before becoming the Chairman, and was involved for 13 years.
After John retired from full time employment, he was asked by a local group to do a Desert Island discs presentation using his vast collection of recorded music. It was well received and he was invited back. Not wishing to duplicate items, he put together a different programme entitled ‘Birmingham – a City in Music’ and was registered as a speaker with the Birmingham Central Library. This led to an increasing number of invitations and the need to develop more programmes. He now offers 32!
From the outset, he decided not to seek a fee or expenses, but to invite donations to his local Hospice. John has now given 1,538 talks and raised over £47,500. His yearly tally peaked at 133 in 2007, and on one crazy day that year he gave three different talks in three different locations!
Noting that he was an alumnus of Birmingham School of Music (now Royal Birmingham Conservatoire), in 1999 he was invited to become Honorary Secretary of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Association, a position that he held for 22 years. RBCA supports students in many and various ways not covered financially by the educational system.
During this period, John was invited to become Honorary Archivist of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and was awarded an Honorary Fellowship in 2011.
We would like to congratulate John on his wonderful achievements!
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