Little Ellingham man made MBE

The former regional director of the National Trust has spoken of his surprise after being made an MBE in the Queen's New Year Honours list for services to heritage.

Peter Griffiths, 60, who lives in Little Ellingham, worked for the National Trust for 33 years until his retirement earlier this year and was involved with some major national initiatives including the Channel Tunnel rail link and the debate about the South Downs and New Forest becoming national parks.

He said: 'It is totally unexpected. It is a complete surprise, but it is nice to be acknowledged for the work you have done for several decades.'

Born in Ludlow, Shropshire Mr Griffiths joined the Trust in 1977 as an assistant agent at Blickling after leaving a job with the MOD.

He cited the restoration of a Blickling park as one of his major successes and remembered with fondness dressing up in Puritan clothes to take part in the Fete Champetre to celebrate the quincentenary of Oxburgh Hall in 1982.

He then spent some time as deputy chief agent at the trust's London HQ before becoming regional director, first in Kent and Sussex and then the Southern region.

In 2002, he returned to East Anglia as the regional director, citing one of his successes as the reopening of the West Wing at historic Grade I listed Ickworth House, which contains visitor, banqueting and wedding facilities.

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He was also involved with opening a new visitor centre at Sheringham Park and a regional office at Bury St Edmunds.

One of his major roles was to monitor the likely impact of new regulations, including planning policy, on the historic environment.

Mr Griffiths was also a non-executive director of the East of England Tourist Board, helping to promote less well-known areas of the region as tourist destinations, including parts of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

He lives with his wife Elizabeth, 60.