History buff Dr Gillean Gear speechless after receiving British Empire medal in Queen's Birthday Honours

Dr Gillean Gear

Dr Gillean Gear

First published in News
Last updated
Times Series: Photograph of the Author by

A history buff who has devoted decades of her life delving into Barnet's past was left speechless after being awarded the British Empire medal.

Dr Gillean Gear was recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours for her services to history.

The mother-of-three got "hooked on history" when she moved to East Barnet, where she was fascinated with its old buildings and what they were used for.

Dr Gear, who left school when she was 17, said: "I was desperate to find out more and so I went to evening classes and my passion grew - I just wanted to do more and more research."

She joined the Barnet Museum in Wood Street in the 1970s and has worked her way up to the role of archivist.

During her career, Dr Gear said she has uncovered some fascinating facts, but she said it was transcribing the journal of Benjamin Woodcock, the master of Barnet Union's Workhouse, which has really stuck with her.

Speaking about the journal, which covers 1836 to 1838, she told the Times Series: "There's all sorts of interesting requests put to the master, one of which was a man who had asked permission to watch his brother's grave in case someone came to steal his body.

"In those days people would rob graves to use the bodies for medical research.

"You can learn so much from reading things from the past - you can almost hear people's voices through the documents."

Dr Gear was nominated by her colleagues at Barnet Museum and the Hertfordshire Association for Local History, where she helps to publish historical journals.

She said: "I received the nomination in the post and at first I just thought it was another bill. It takes a lot to take my breath away but it really has. It's just wonderful."

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