Chris Tod Retires
Curator for 25 years
Chris Tod was presented with several farewell gifts, including a book of memories and appreciation which was compiled for him by museum volunteers
A Fitting Tribute to a Local Legend
On Saturday 18th March, 2017 Steyning Museum held its Annual General Meeting. There was an unusually large audience for this event, as it was also the opportunity to say farewell to our Curator. Chris Tod has been at the helm of the museum as a volunteer for the past 25 years and has truly made it what it is today.
Chris's final Curator's Report included many anecdotes about his time running the museum, such as when he was presented with an historic meat cleaver by a local butcher and then had to walk down Steyning High Street carrying this 'offensive' weapon back to the museum. He calculated that 150,000 visitors had passed through the museum since July 1991, 18,500 new acquisitions had been received and he had eaten 5,000 lunchtime rolls from the local bakery.
His happy memories focused on the 400 museum volunteers he had worked with and the visitors who had come to the museum to reconnect with their past. Sometimes they got more than they bargained for, Chris recalled, such as a lady some years ago. "She not only discovered her house history but I was able to show her the homework notes she had lost behind the skirting board of her house in the High Street in 1953 and which had been re-discovered during renovation work many years later."
Chris said that the sheer delight shown by people that the museum has been able to help in this way was one of the great rewards of the job.
After the official proceedings, a series of Chris's colleagues and friends shared stories about his time as Curator. He is a very modest man and many of the audience learnt new things about his skills, huge knowledge and enormously hard work. Jeremy Knight, Curator of Horsham Museum, spoke of Chris's great expertise in making Steyning Museum 'a model of a small museum'.
Chris Drake, Development and Operations Manager for Preston Manor and the Booth Museum talked about the great achievement of not only successfully negotiating a complex funding bid, but also getting the superb extension built within the budget and two months early.
Chris Tod receives the key to the new extension
Old friends and colleagues also made contributions. These included a poem based on Kipling's 'If', wonderfully adapted for Chris by David Thompson, the Honorary Archivist. Sarah Leigh, who organizes the volunteers working for the museum, Jacquie Buttriss, the Vice Chair and Julian Buttery, a volunteer, also spoke movingly and with warm humour about their memories of working with Chris Tod.
Chris will no doubt still be a regular visitor to the museum and he will still be a fund of knowledge for the community of Steyning but he will no longer be the Curator. His role has had to be divided at least three ways in order to attempt to cover the extraordinary amount of work he has been responsible for over the past quarter century. He will be sorely missed indeed.