Sue’s fascination with discovering things goes back to her childhood. Born in Wales, her father had studied in archaeology, so family outings involved trips to Hadrian’s Wall and Stonehenge, and she started going on digs during the school holidays. Her long association with Wessex started when she studied archaeology at Southampton and, apart from a few years working on a UNESCO-funded project on Carthage, she has worked here ever since.
While she was at Southampton, Sue helped local archaeologists from Andover and Romsey at the weekends and when local charity Wessex Archaeology was set up in 1979 she was one of the first employees. She led a series of excavations across the region including major projects as Dorchester town centre was redeveloped and started what has turned out to be a long running involvement in the attempts to find a solution for Stonehenge.
Sue became Chief Executive in 2003 but as well as building up the company to the point where it has a staff of over 200, she has served on various organisations that have helped establish the young and emerging profession of archaeology. She served as the Chair on the Institute of Field Archaeologists, who made her an Honorary Life Member in 2005, and she is currently the Chair of the Culture Committee for the UK National Commission for UNESCO which advises the government on matters relating to culture and world heritage, work which takes her to Paris and Brussels.
Commenting on the honour, Sue said ‘I am really pleased, but this isn’t about what I have done. It is about the work of all my colleagues who have helped establish archaeology as something that matters to people. People value their past. Discovering things is exciting, but you have to have a good team and good system. Over the last 25 years we have gone a long way to building, right across the UK, one of the best heritage systems in Europe.’
Local MP Robert Key who serves on the Board of Directors of Wessex Archaeology and speaks up for archaeology at Westminster said ‘I am thrilled for Sue. Like her, I was fascinated by archaeology when I was a child. My career took a different path, but I am proud that one of the top archaeological organisations in Europe is based in Salisbury. I know from first hand experience that Sue’s honour is thoroughly deserved.’