Heritage chief becomes first woman to lead Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Posted on centenarynews.com on 22 May 2014
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The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has appointed a woman for the first time as its Director General. Victoria Wallace will take over from Alan Pateman-Jones who's standing down in June 2014 after four years in the job.

Victoria is currently Chief Executive of Leeds Castle, a popular heritage attraction in Kent dating back to the 12th century. In the past 10 years, she's nearly doubled visitor numbers and expanded alternative revenue streams and opportunities.

At the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, she will take charge of steering a global operation through the Centenary period of the First World War and beyond.

The CWGC, which maintains the graves of 1.7 million Commonwealth servicemen and women killed during the two world wars, is also preparing to mark its own Centenary. It was founded as the Imperial War Graves Commission in 1917.

Messines Ridge Cemetery, Belgium: one of 23,000 locations where the CWGC operates worldwide

Victoria Wallace said: "I am honoured and delighted to be joining the Commonwealth War Graves Commission at this important time of commemoration, and to be able to lead it into the future. It is a wonderful institution, with a great team, which has carried out its valuable task with meticulous efficiency for nearly 100 years. 

"I believe it now also has huge potential to engage new generations in the understanding of conflict, and in ensuring that the contributions of the fallen servicemen and women, commemorated all round the world, will be remembered forever."

Victoria's past experience includes diplomatic posts with the UK Foreign Office in Tanzania, Thailand, and Belgium. She was also Chief Executive of Sussex Magistrates' Courts for four years.

Alan Pateman-Jones, a former Army officer and banker, stands down as Chief Executive of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on 13th June 2014.

Sound legacy

The CWGC's Vice-Chairman, Sir Joe French, thanked him for leaving a sound legacy: "Under his dynamic and inspirational stewardship, the Commission has gone through major transformation and is well placed to ensure that it continues to be fit for purpose into the future. "

The Director of Technical Works, Brian Davidson, will serve as Acting Director General until the arrival of Victoria Wallace on 20th October 2014.

Source: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Images courtesy of Commonwealth War Graves Commission; Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News (Messines Ridge Cemetery)

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News