Berkhamsted violin maker receives British Empire Medal for industry dedication and charity support

The violin maker has spent roughly 30 years supporting charities within the trade
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A man from Berkhamsted has been honoured by the King in recognition of his services to violin making.

Colin Garrett, 81, has spent roughly 30 years in the profession, and has supported a number of charities since taking up the trade.

He has been described as the hidden face behind contemporary British lutherie.

Colin Garrett BEMColin Garrett BEM
Colin Garrett BEM

Since retraining as a violin maker in his late 50s, Colin has shown true dedication to the craft.

The 81-year-old is credited with setting up the British Violin Making Association (BVMA) membership database, using his legal skills to ensure the archives met with the Data Protection Act.

He acted as the BVMA’s company secretary for 13 years, assisting the association with book publishing and commercial opportunities.

Colin played a vital role in helping the charity release four books.

He also assisted the Rowan Armour-Brown (RAB) Trust. The charity needed help registering its accounts and Colin’s input allowed the not-for-profit venture to support students.

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It was Colin who led the process of getting the trust official UK charity status. Observers state that he single-handedly took one that task in 2004.

For nearly 20 years he has collected workshop donations from across the country on behalf of the trust.

He takes the contents home, sorts through the tools, wood, books and instruments to decide what can be sold on to students, before driving to colleges to man the next tool sale.

Items are sold to students at a very reduced rate and the proceeds made are offered in annual grants to young people. He has made at least two sales for 19 consecutive years.

Each year deserving RAB students receive a copy of BVMA’s books, on Colin’s recommendation.

He was tireless in facilitating the granting of special awards by the RAB Trust to encourage young makers with potential and arranging opportunities for them to spend time in professional workshops.

He has also acted as a trustee and treasurer of LSF-UK (Luthiers Sans Frontières) since 2016, which he guided to charitable status.

He has donated funds and has also secured funding from various organisations to support LSF-UK projects. The charity offers training to some of the poorest countries.

Colin has been named in King Charles III’s first ever Birthday Honours List.

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