Michael Burton was one of the Museum’s hardest-working trustees and one of the greatest promoters of the Museum and its work. His death at the age of 84 deprives us of a most supportive friend and his wisdom and enthusiasm will be very much missed.
Michael joined the trustees in 1993 and immediately set about practical and energetic efforts to help the Museum.
He was especially interested in marketing; he took much time to support staff and volunteers, and above all was a superb fundraiser. His vast network of contacts was effectively put at the Museum’s disposal, and over the years he raised many hundreds of thousands of pounds for the Museum’s capital projects.
Michael was, as his godson Nick Cook said at his funeral, an extraordinary person: it was truly a privilege to have known him.
He was born in Pedmore, Worcestershire to Geoffrey, who became head of the Daimler and BSA Group and oversaw tank production at the outbreak of the Second World War, and Meme, who was a talented archaeologist. Close family bonds, a strong work ethic and commitment to public service were to prove the foundations of Michael’s life.
Michael went to Eton and after National Service joined Ruberoid Manufacturing Company, eventually promoted to the export department, and then became the London MD of French building company, Gerland Ltd. After his marriage to Jane, and the arrival of their two sons, Rupert and Daniel, they decided to move out of London, and bought their house in Lavant.
Research into the growing leisure activity of gardening led them to form their company Room Outside, located on the Goodwood Estate. It grew into an incredibly successful business, leading innovation in the burgeoning conservatory market.
Michael was a man of many talents and diverse interests, who with great generosity of spirit devoted himself to the community, helping with fundraising for many causes – the Weald & Downland Museum was extremely fortunate to be just one of those.