On Tuesday 13th October BASCA presented Claire Whitaker OBE with a Gold Badge Award in recognition for her outstanding contribution to British Music.

Here, on behalf of BASCA, journalist Mark Sutherland profiles Claire’s career to date:

More than three years on and the golden glow from the London 2012 Olympics still lingers. Not just because of the stunning performances of the homegrown athletes, nor the amazing atmosphere in and around the stadiums, but also because of the brilliant cultural events that accompanied the sport.

Prominent amongst these was the BT River Of Music, spearheaded by Claire Whitaker, director of live music producer Serious. This event delivered numbers that even Usain Bolt would find impressive: 100,000 fans watching 1500 musicians from 204 countries performing at six iconic venues along the River Thames. Who knew the Tower Of London would be such a great live music venue? Well, Claire Whitaker probably: she pulled together performers as varied as the Scissor Sisters, Zakir Hussain and Baaba Maal to make an event that will live long in the memory of everyone who witnessed it (not to mention the 2,000 people who took part in the accompanying participatory programme).

But then that has been Whitaker’s speciality since she joined Serious 19 years ago: setting the bar higher than even an Olympic high jump champion. A trained musician herself and also an experienced corporate banker, as well as a one-time Decca Records executive, Whitaker has helped put on countless innovative shows that have inspired fans and helped many brilliant songwriters reach out to new audiences.

Whitaker has helped establish Serious in the public sector as well as the commercial one and has helped the London Jazz Festival grow and expand while also driving events such as Urban Classic which, as the name might suggest, sees urban and classical musicians combining to great effect. She was also a prime mover in the State Of Play music education conference that saw musicians, teachers and politicians get together and share ideas.

And her work even goes way beyond these shores. She has produced numerous international events, many in countries that are off the beaten track as far as the live circuit is concerned such as Zimbabwe, Ghana and Swaziland.

No wonder she was awarded an OBE in this year’s Queens’ Birthday Honours List (for “services to jazz”, no less, possibly the coolest reason for a civic honour ever). And no wonder that, just like those athletes in 2012, she’s not only going for Gold again today, but winning in style.

(c) Mark Sutherland 2015