THE woman who had the idea almost 40 years ago of turning a derelict wartime site near York into an air museum - and created a top attraction now visited by 60,000 people a year - is honoured today.

Rachel Semlyen, founder of the Yorkshire Air Museum and Allied Air Forces Memorial at Elvington and currently chair of trustees, has been made an MBE in the Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours for services to heritage.

She said yesterday she was ‘extremely honoured,’ saying: “It is a huge tribute to the museum and all the amazing people who have helped to make it possible.”

She said it was nearly 40 years since she approached the owners of what was then an abandoned and derelict wartime site, with the idea of restoring the buildings and creating a museum that would commemorate its place in history and the courageous aircrews who flew from there in the Second World War.

She said she met veterans returning to Elvington and learned about its history, and saw the potential and importance of preserving it from becoming yet another industrial estate and set about recruiting volunteers and creating the charitable trust that today employed between 12 and 20 full and part-time staff.

“It has been a long but exciting journey to get to where we are now—a fully accredited museum, a popular family attraction, with important archives for researchers and an internationally renowned collection of aircraft,” she said.

“Many of our early supporters are sadly no longer with us, but their enthusiasm and expertise enabled our current volunteers and employees to continue making it the great place it is today.”

She said it had been a ‘wonderful privilege’ to have played a part in the creation of the museum and was extremely grateful to her fellow trustees and family for their support.