Obituary | Terry Suthers, 1944-2024 - Museums Association

Obituary | Terry Suthers, 1944-2024

A man whose professionalism, creativity and kindness touched many across Yorkshire and beyond
Barbara Woroncow
Terry Suthers

Terry Suthers’ many friends and colleagues in the museums and heritage sectors both across Yorkshire and beyond were very saddened to hear of the death of a fellow professional, who was described by so many as ‘a lovely man’. His professionalism, creativity and kindness were used to positively further the many organisations and networks with which he was associated.

Born in Rossendale on 1 June 1944, Terry began his museum career in Hull and initially trained as a conservator and archaeologist. In 1972 he was appointed as deputy director of the Yorkshire Area Museums Council, where he developed design and technical services and provided regional advisory visits to museums large and small, as well as those that were just embryonic proposals.

In 1980 he was awarded a Winston Churchill Fellowship to study heritage site interpretation and mosaic conservation in Italy and North Africa. In 1983, Terry became director of the Yorkshire Museum in York where he initiated a programme of modernisation and high-profile exhibitions. His role included supporting independent museums across North Yorkshire. Subsequently, he left Yorkshire in 1987 to become assistant director and head of public services at the national Science Museum in London.

In 1992 Terry was invited by the Earl and Countess of Harewood to become the first director and CEO of the newly-formed Harewood House Charitable Trust in Leeds. A major programme of fundraising enabled the multi-million pound restoration of the Grade I-listed house, gardens and collections.

Under Terry’s leadership, which lasted until 2007, Harewood became the first UK country house to become a fully Registered and Accredited Museum with collections Designated as of national importance. In addition to gaining several national awards for culture and tourism, attendances tripled and major exhibitions and events took place.


While at Harewood, Terry laid the foundations for an important ground-breaking partnership with the University of York, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to research and publish Harewood’s Lascelles Slavery Archive which is now held at the Borthwick Institute of Archives in York. David Lascelles, Earl of Harewood, said in tribute: “Terry Suthers' time at Harewood was transformational. We have so much to thank him for.”

In 2005 Terry was made a deputy lieutenant for West Yorkshire and in 2011 he was awarded the MBE for services to museums and heritage. After retiring in 2007, he had a very full portfolio of governance roles, which included serving as chair of York Archaeological Trust from 2006 to 2016, vice-chair of the Yorkshire & North-East Film Archive, vice-chair of the York Civic Trust and trustee of the Thackray Medical Museum, Scarborough Museums Trust and Geraldine Connor Foundation.

His membership of many advisory panels included those at the Heritage Lottery Fund, York Minster and the University of York. He also returned to his early love of brass band music and played with the York Golden Railway Institute Brass Band.

As a colleague, Terry was full of imaginative ideas and a friendly sense of fun in the course of the wide-ranging contribution he made across both the museum and heritage sectors. Throughout his career, he always made time to encourage younger colleagues, who benefited from his friendship and professional support.

Following a lengthy illness, Terry was with his wife and family at home when he died on 24 March 2024. His funeral will be held at 2.00pm on Thursday 25 April in the Quire of York Minster, with the tribute to be given by David Lascelles, Earl of Harewood.

Barbara Woroncow is a past president of the Museums Association

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