Storyhouse founders recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours List

Storyhouse’s ex-Chair and Chief Executive have both been recognised with awards in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for their work on the much-loved Chester charity and venue.

Geoff Clifton, who was the charity’s Chair until 2015, has been awarded an MBE, whilst the charity’s founding Chief Executive, Andrew Bentley, who still leads the organisation, has been awarded a BEM.

For Storyhouse, the awards come at a timely moment for the organisation as it struggles with the fallout of the Covid crisis. They said:

“We’re absolutely delighted about this wonderful recognition for two key members of our team. Andrew and Geoff worked together for a decade and certainly wouldn’t be where we are today without their leadership and vision. It’s so heartening for us, as this moment when things seem so dark for the country’s theatre and culture sectors, to be reminded that our work means enough to the country and to our community, to be recognised in this amazing way”

Chief Executive Andrew Bentley, who is recognised for services to arts and libraries said:

“Obviously this is just lovely news and I am genuinely taken aback. This is really a well-deserved recognition for all the hard work our talented team have put in over the years. I’m particularly pleased that Geoff has been recognised for the countless hours of voluntary service and, on a personal note he has been a wonderful mentor to me during the development of our charity.”

Geoff Clifton, who is recognised for his long-standing work with the Cathedral Fabric Advisory Commission, said:

“I am proud and delighted to accept this honour. It’s been a great privilege to work with Andrew, the teams in Storyhouse and the local authority to produce this fantastic creative resource for the city. So many people have contributed to its development, design and delivery; it’s been a privilege to help lead those teams and an enormous delight to have seen the city take it to their hearts and make Storyhouse their own.”


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Andrew Bentley BEM

Andrew is Storyhouse’s founding Chief Executive and has led the organisation since 2006. He has spent considerable time in both the cultural and private sectors. Andrew trained as a musician and has many years’ experience running large cultural venues. He was Director of Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall, which he re-built and re-launched. He co-founded and built Liverpool’s iconic Hope Street Hotel which, along with its restaurant, has won many national awards over the years, including the industry’s award for the UK’s Best New Hotel. He arranged to buy the bankrupt Playhouse theatre and raised enough funds to re-furbish and bring about its merger with the Liverpool Everyman. He is a board member of UK Theatre.

Geoff Clifton MBE

Geoff’s professional life was as a consulting structural engineer. After working in various places, including a time with the family in Nigeria, he came to Chester 42 years ago to open a new office for the practice for which he worked. He grew the office to 120 staff, designing many key projects in the NW and overseas. In due course he became CEO and chair of the whole practice with 7 offices in the UK and 6 around the world, employing over 750 staff. Geoff was a member of the Cathedral Fabric Commission for England for ten years, is current Chair of the Liverpool Cathedral Fabric Advisory Committee and a member of the same committee for Coventry Cathedral, including working on its successful bid for city of culture. He was the first Chair of Storyhouse and remained in post until 2015; he was instrumental in the lengthy and successful development of the organisation. Geoff was also a trustee of the old Chester Gateway Theatre.