Can Standen deliver in top post at Bletchley?

ONE of Iain Standen’s most important recent jobs has been the joint running of the team that developed the military plan in Iraq in 2008/09.

As Colonel Standen, of the Royal Corps of Signals, he reported to US General David Patreus and his successor General Ray Odierno in Baghdad on the development of strategy that eventually led to withdrawal of the multinational force.

After an army career of 28 years, Mr Standen, aged 48, has taken up the post of chief executive of Bletchley Park Trust.

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The Trust is landlord of the site, which includes museums, units for start-up businesses as well as the world renowned home of the Second World War codebreakers.

Although he chooses not to use his rank – although it comes in useful at times – Mr Standen sees similarities between a military career and one in civilian business.

“I am the one who makes the decisions in the end as chief executive,” said the married father of three.

People here will continue to have an opinion right up until the moment when a job has to be done but then I have to say we have to do it a certain way.”

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Mr Standen, who took over from the highly respected Simon Greenish about four weeks ago, has the task of implementing a £7.4million Heritage Lottery-backed improvement programme at Bletchley Park to secure the long-term future of the protected site. A huge amount of that money will be spent on refurbishing the wooden huts used by the codebreakers.

The heritage and history of Bletchley Park, where 10,000 people worked in absolute secrecy to break the German military codes, continues to create documentaries and huge amounts of positive publicity for the site.

But Mr Standen fears that some day this will not be the case.

“One of my fears is that at some stage the publicity bubble will burst,” said Mr Standen whose task it is to secure the long-term future of the site and secure the legacy for the people who campaigned to save it for the nation. Some of those dedicated campaigners from 20 years ago work as part of the volunteer team without whom Bletchley Park could not function.

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Bletchley Park is currently visited by about 140,000 people each year. Mr Standen’s plans see that increasing to 250,000 – but that will mean that the visitor experience will have to change.

“Over the next three years it will be my job to ensure we get the logistics right for a new visitor centre,” said Mr Standen who commutes home to Lincolnshire from a city centre flat. One of the larger buildings is being transformed for that purpose.

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