MBE for one of QE’s most loyal friends

MBE for one of QE’s most loyal friends

Alison Mihail, daughter of notable Old Elizabethan Ronald Orton and herself an ardent supporter of the School, was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List.

Alison, who has since received the MBE from the Prince of Wales in an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace, was recognised for a long record of outstanding service to young people. This includes raising more than £1.4m for The Prince’s Trust over the past 18 years.

The Orton family have been benefactors of the School for many years: among the Endowed Prizes and Special Awards at the annual Senior Awards ceremony is The Ronald E. Orton Memorial Prize for Commitment and Service. Ronald Ernest Orton was at the School from 1919 to 1926, when it was still based in the Wood Street building. He was Clerk to the Trustees until 1991, and in the 1970s was the President of the OE Association.

Alison gave details of her father’s career: “He was an accountant and then Company Secretary for Gaumont British Picture Company, before I think it was taken over by Rank. Latterly, in retirement, he was Clerk to St Stephens Parish Council in St Albans.”

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “Our congratulations go to Alison on the MBE and we are delighted to be able to celebrate her success here: she is, in fact, the first woman to feature in Alumni News. Alison is very much a ‘friend of the School’ and has told me that she feels very close to QE.”

Alison was an honoured guest at this term’s Senior Awards Ceremony. She also attended the dedication ceremony for the permanent poppy memorial to the School’s war dead in November and attended the OE Association Dinner on the same evening. This was in her capacity as an executor for the late Dennis Nelms (OE 1934–41) and his wife, Muriel, whose bequest enabled the purchase of the ceramic poppies from the Tower of London display.

Since retiring as the deputy headteacher of The Grange School in Aylesbury, she has volunteered on various Prince’s Trust committees, councils and action groups. Over the past 20 years, Alison, who lives in the Berkshire village of Finchampstead, has turned her hand to everything from managing renovation projects in Romania to setting up 26 of the Trust’s XL Clubs in secondary schools across Berkshire. These help 13-19 year-olds to develop skills and confidence.

Her fund-raising for the Trust was conducted through her role as Chair of the Thames Valley Area Development Committee and she has also mentored 43 corporate teams who took part in the charity’s annual entrepreneurial fundraising challenge, Million Makers.

Writing to the Headmaster, she reflected on her MBE and the ceremony at the Palace. “It has all been hugely exciting and also very humbling. I met some inspiring recipients during the morning investiture. There are so many good people in this country.”