As I specialised in turning organisations round, making them focus more on their customers and giving the visiting public a good experience, when I set up my own company, I used my clarity of vision and ability to see what is needed quickly to create a successful business.  With my experience, I’m immediately effective when working with new clients.

After a distinguished record of achievement, as a director in York, Exeter and Bristol and creating innovative museums and cultural services, I established my own business in 1996. 

 My unrivalled experience comes from working with a broad range of types and sizes of organisation throughout the UK so I have a national perspective.  My clients tell me my pragmatic approach ensures they receive the best advice. 

My business is based on my success running my own business for over 25 years and my employment as a director and curator in York, Exeter and Bristol.  As a consultant I initially specialised in what was then HLF (now NLHF)  advice and support, writing many successful bids for capital funding and raising over £25m for clients.  This was complemented by my coaching training with the Coaching Academy.   Two major significant projects were at Creswell Crags and Newbridge Memo.

Engraving of a horse from Robin Hood cave © British Museum

Aerial view of the gorge and lake at Creswell Crags

Introductory film at Creswell Crags Museum.

I was the Lead Consultant on the creation of the new museum and learning centre at Creswell Crags.  Creswell Crags was the most northerly inhabited site during the last Ice Age and straddles the border between Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.  Creswell Heritage Trust cares for an atmospheric limestone gorge, a scheduled ancient monument with several caves and Britain’s only cave art, discovered in 2003 and dating to over 13,000 years old.  I worked with the Trust over 10 years, initially on the Conservation Management and Learning Plans and wrote the successful bids to HLF.  I was then appointed to lead their capital development.  Funded by HLF (£4.24m), ERDF and supported by Severn Trent Water (who relocated their sewage works) and by Derbyshire County Council (who moved the B6042), the new museum building opened in 2009.  Designed by OMI Architects from Manchester, it won a RIBA Building of the Year award and East Midlands Museum of the Year.

Newbridge Memo Auditorium before restoration

Newbridge Memo is a wonderful Grade II* 1925 building with a ballroom and auditorium.  It was built by the Celynen Collieries’ Institute on a plot of land next door in Newbridge, south east Wales to commemorate the 75 men who died in the Great War.  Its auditorium was designed as both a theatre and a cinema.  It narrowly missed winning the BBC Restoration programme in 2004 but HLF encouraged them to submit a capital bid.  I joined the team in 2006 to work with the architect on the Conservation Management Plan.  I also wrote both the successful applications to HLF and provided operational knowledge, interpretive skills and social history to the capital scheme.  With funding from Cadw, Caerphilly County Borough Council and HLF, the building was opened by HRH Prince of Wales in 2014.

In Exeter I led a significant change programme across what was then the whole Museums Service.  I also led the creation of a ground-breaking development plan which several years later came to fruition, courtesy of HLF.  The RAMM – as it is affectionately known – won the Museum of the Year Award in 2012.  I also doubled the attendance figures in our 5 museums and increased visitor spend by a factor of seven. 

RAMM’s astonishing architecture  © RAMM

Kirkgate, York Castle Museum  ©YMT

In York, I managed, developed and marketed one of Britain’s major tourist attractions: York Castle Museum.  By imaginative marketing, I boosted attendances to 850,000 when other museums were in decline.  I built partnerships with organisations throughout the city and improved relations with the local community, especially amongst the hoteliers and other tourist attractions.

In Bristol, I created the first integrated heritage service combining five major museums with four designed landscapes (two by Repton) and the historic City Docks.

In Hexham, I created the new museum of Border History from scratch: there were no collections, no research and no staff, all I had were two restored medieval buildings and lots of local enthusiasm. 

Bristol Museums  © Bristol Culture

Interior of Moot Hall, Hexham  © Museums Northumberland

Hilary’s versatility, her extensive experience of the museum sector and her creativity are a winning combination.

Ian Wall
then Director
Creswell Heritage Trust

Your report was informed, practical, efficient and insightful. 
It was an invaluable starting point for re-thinking the future of Fulham Palace.

Dr Scott Cooper
then Director
Fulham Palace

Banner Photo – Fulham Palace © Paul Riddle