The Queen of England is among the many admirers of Jane Pettigrew.
An official notice in The London Gazette announced “THE QUEEN has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the British Empire Medal (Civil Division) to Ms. Jane Pettigrew.”
The official posting Dec. 30 by the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood (known informally as the New Year Honours List) cited Pettigrew’s services to tea production and history.
She will receive a silver medal with burgundy ribbon trimmed in grey from the Lord Lieutenant for Greater London, England. The presentation date has not yet been announced.
“I will also be invited to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party later in the year,” said Pettigrew.
She reports accolades and notices in local newspapers brought congratulations from near and far.
“I was very surprised,” Pettigrew told a reporter at the Wandsworth Guardian.
“I thought ‘Wow, this is really nice.’
“I have worked hard in the tea world because it is my job and I love it. It has taken me on a huge adventure,” she said.
One person from this side of the pond knew something was afoot back in October 2014 when Bruce Richardson, tea master at the Boston Tea Party Ships Museum, was asked to vouch for Pettigrew to the Honours Secretariat in London.
In his letter of recommendation he noted “Ms. Pettigrew is recognized in the United Kingdom and the United States as one of the leading authorities on tea, tea production, tea service, and tea history. She is widely known as Britain’s tea ambassador to America.”
“I have had the good fortune to co-write four books with Ms. Pettigrew on the subject of tea…” he added. “Tea was once a dividing force between our countries, as exemplified in that unfortunate incident in Boston Harbor back in 1773, but Jane Pettigrew is the perfect example of how tea can be a unifying ‘cup of humanity’ that joyfully infuses our cultures today,” he concluded.
James Norwood Pratt called Pettigrew “a bright star illuminating the world of tea and guiding its explorers since well before we first met in 1992.”
“One must wonder what the British could have done to deserve her and why it’s taken them this long to honor her prodigious contributions. Her friends and colleagues around the world applaud this tardy recognition of her work,” writes Pratt.
Pettigrew, 66, transitioned in the 1980s from a career teaching language and communications teacher, teaching all ages, English and French. She founded and ran a successful tea house in Clapham for six years.
In 1983 she recalled “talking to some friends who knew of a building for sale in Clapham, so we decided to buy it and open the tea room,” according the Wandsworth Guardian.
“People thought we were completely mad. It was a time when people did not really go out to tea. On our first day, we were completely packed and we used to have queues every weekend,” she recalled. “I thought I had better start learning about tea.”
Pettigrew will append BEM to her name (along with BA Hons., Cert Ed. , RSA Cert) and authorship of 16 titles on tea. Her latest endeavor is the UK Tea Academy where she will work as course director. “The UK Tea Academy has been established to offer not just the training but also the certification that proves participants have reached a required standard of knowledge and expertise,” she said.
Pettigrew is recipient of World Tea Awards for Best Tea Educator, Best Tea Personality and Best Tea Health Advocate from World Tea Media.
The BEM has a storied past dating to the First World War. The medal is awarded in two divisions, one for gallantry in combat and in service to the empire by those living outside the United Kingdom. It was discontinued for a period but in 2012 Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the BEM would once again be issued in the United Kingdom, although only in the civil division. The first of the new series of medals were awarded to 293 people in 2012, to coincide with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Photo credit “Medaille B.E.M. met Brittania” by Robert Prummel – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/