A Derby-born woman with extensive experience in local and national government at senior level is the new chair of the organisation that runs the city’s three museums.

Pat Coleman, vice-chair of Derby Museums Trust for four years, has taken over after Peter Smith  stepped down.

The charitable trust took over the running of the museums – the Museum and Art Gallery in The Strand, Pickford’s House in Friar Gate, and the Silk Mill in Full Street – from Derby City Council four years ago.

Pat’s role will be leading the future direction of the museums, including a £18m redevelopment of the Silk Mill due to start in 2018. It is hoped this will be a world class facility depicting the history of making in Derby; everything from a  watch spring to trains and Rolls-Royce engines.

And with a variety of historic and priceless exhibits, including the world-renowned Joseph Wright Collection, all looked after by around 50 staff Pat is keen to develop something special and lasting in her home city.

Now living in Youlgrave, near Bakewell, Pat was born and bred in Derby, attending Ashgate primary and Parkfield Cedars grammar schools, before going to university in Norwich.

She was director of libraries for Sheffield City Council from 1983-9, then held a similar position in Birmingham, where she later took charge of social services before becoming deputy chief executive of Manchester City Council, where she began as a graduate trainee librarian.

Working for central government on improving services at local level Pat became an OBE for her efforts. In 2003 she set up her own business as a consultant in the public sector.

Pat said:

As a child I used to come to the museum and art gallery to see the Egyptian mummies and model railway among other things.

I want to make sure that the opportunities to visit Derby’s museums and be amazed at the exhibits will be available to current and future generations.

There is an exciting time ahead with the Silk Mill redevelopment, helped by £10m of National Lottery money. The council is putting in £4m for which we are grateful in view of the financial pressures it faces.

With other grants and support from local firms and people we are close to our target, though I will be working hard to secure extra funding as the council’s financial help becomes more limited.

Additionally we have the challenge of keeping the buildings open and freely accessible and continuing to put on interesting exhibitions and attractive activities appealing to all ages.

We have a great team led by executive director Tony Butler. Staff are enthusiastic and committed, just as the board, is to the museums’ future.”Pat said Peter Smith’s leadership had given the trust good foundations.

Pat said Peter Smith’s leadership had given the trust good foundations.

We are delighted he will continue as a member of the board

she added.