Volunteer museum founder praised by Prime Minister

By Monmouthshire Beacon/Chepstow Beacon in Local People

VOLUNTEER Rosemary Rigby MBE from Wormelow has been recognised by Prime Minister Theresa May for her work creating a museum and memorial to forgotten war heroine Violette Szabo.

She is the latest recipient of the Points of Light award, which recognises outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.

Rosemary Rigby MBE created a unique museum and memorial to a forgotten Second World War heroine after discovering the cottage in her garden was once Violette Szabo’s holiday home.

Violette was a French-born British agent who undertook a number of daring undercover missions in France before being captured by German troops and sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp where she was executed aged 23.

Rosemary has dedicated herself to telling Violette’s story in an exhibition of photos and artefacts housed in the cottage. A specially protected liquid amber tree in the grounds stands as a memorial to Violette’s extraordinary life and service.

More than 2,000 people attended the museum opening in June 2000 and it is visited by people from all over the world. Rosemary’s award coincides with the 72nd anniversary of Violette’s death.

Rosemary received her MBE for her service to the Royal National Institute of Blind People.

In a personal letter to Rosemary, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “The memorial and museum you have created is preserving the memory of a little-known war hero who bravely gave her life in service to this country. Your remarkable project is keeping the story of Violette’s extraordinary life alive for future generations.”

Rosemary was thrilled to receive the award from the Prime Minister, she said: “May I say how very delighted I am to accept this unique honour from the Prime Minister, Theresa May.

“This joy recognises the endless years of hard work which preceded it. I did all that by myself.”

Rosemary is the 675th winner of the Points of Light award, which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA and was first established by President George HW Bush. More than 5,000 US Points of Light have been awarded and both President George HW Bush and President Barack Obama have publicly supported the partnership with Points of Light UK, which honours shining examples of volunteering across the country.

Regardless of whether it’s a doctor restoring local monuments in her free time, a father teaching young people life skills, or a local musician giving a voice to lonely people, the Point of Light award honours shining examples of volunteering across the UK.

The next annual memorial event at Rosemary’s Szabo museum will be held on Sunday 25th June. There will be usual opportunities to pay respect to Violette, and learn more about the spy. TV bushcraft expert Ray Mears will be present on the day, describing it as an “honour and a privilege” to attend.

Hardworking volunteer Rosemary is pictured in her other role as the president of the Hereford branch of the Federation of Soroptimist International Great Britain, a global volunteer movement working to transform the lives of women and girls. The network in 133 countries and territories works at a local, national and international level to educate, empower and enable opportunities for women and girls. The group meet on the third Monday of each month at the Green Dragon in Hereford and new members are always welcome. Call Rosemary for more on 01981

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