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Our Trustees

Meet the Board

St George’s Bristol is an independent charity, and as such, it is governed by a group of people who offer their time and expertise voluntarily. Our Trustees are selected through an open recruitment process and serve a term of 3 years, which can be extended once.

Sallie Blanks Nash

Sallie has recently retired from running a national network of estates teams within the public sector, a network she grew over tenfold within 6 years, turning it from an old boys’ club into a vibrant, respected and valuable asset for the sector. Using a variety of initiatives, such as regular training workshops, setting national standards, driving change at governmental level, Sallie was able to increase membership and influence and provide a cohesive approach across the sector and into other emergency services.

Prior to this, Sallie worked as a client representative for organisations in Bristol, delivering capital projects of all sizes, many of which had a unique or specialist focus. These include Wild Place Project, a specialist firearms training centre, a helicopter base and the extension to St George’s Bristol, among others.Sallie remains extremely proud of all the projects with which she has been associated.

Sallie’s interests are wide ranging and infinitely expandable. She sings in several choirs, enjoys attending all sorts of arts events and sporting activities and is deeply engaged with her family.

Doug Bott

Doug is the Artistic Director and co-founder of Open Up Music, creating new opportunities for young disabled musicians through accessible orchestras and instruments. Starting out as a Cathedral chorister before an early career in experimental rock, from 2000 Doug increasingly focussed on inclusive music-making, with extensive experience as a music leader, arts manager and consultant. Since 2014, Open Up Music’s award-winning programmes have had a hugely positive impact for young disabled musicians.

My top St. George’s memories so far include a sublime Viola da Gamba performance by Jordi Savall in 2013, singing the Rachmaninov Vespers with City of Bristol choir in 2015, and conducting the National Open Youth Orchestra’s first Bristol concert in 2022.

Doug Bott

Mark Bowers

Mark Bowers has over 15 years’ experience in the music industry. Starting off as a drummer and DJ, Mark then moved to working behind the stage in artist management, touring and promotions. Mark spent seven years as a national promoter for Metropolis Music and has been privileged to work with some of the world’s very best acts from Oasis to Emeli Sande to Netsky.

Recognising his real passion lies in artist development, Mark has been working at BIMM Bristol heading up artist development and careers for the last six years. He has also launched a new management & PR company under the Crosstown group, developing and signing incredible new artists.

I have promoted many shows at St Georges in the past and always loved taking artists into such an incredible venue. I look forward to supporting them more and being a part of this special place.

Mark Bowers

Kat Branch

Kat Branch is Head of Centre for Music at UWE Bristol making music facilities, professionally-led groups, teaching and events available to everyone at the university, supporting university strategies on wellbeing, mental health, equity, practice-led learning and cultural exchange whilst helping students and staff towards their musical goals. Focused on innovative applications of music education with a background in creating performing arts programmes for secure environments, Kat is also interested in equitable access to the arts and how to increase engagement with music from disenfranchised groups. Kat is an educator at heart and so she still lectures and leads a choir focused on singing for wellbeing. Kat’s first instrument is French horn but she is most at home at a piano or singing, ideally in a big group.

I have enjoyed so many special moments at St George’s from watching our student orchestra proudly perform their favourite music to hearing voices from across the city’s community choirs come together to celebrate the power of singing at the Singing City day. But I’ll never forget a stunning concert from Chineke! Orchestra which premiered a breathtaking composition commemorating the Bristol Bus Boycott. The atmosphere was electric and many people including me were moved to tears as Paul Stephenson himself was in attendance, to thunderous applause from the packed concert hall.

Kat Branch

Jonathan Brecknell

Jonathan Brecknell is a ‘converted Bristolian’, having moved to the city for University and never left! He is owner and Manager of Urban Creation, who’s office resides on Park Street. Therefore, the location and ecosystem of St. George’s is close to his heart.

He refers to himself as a ‘semi-talented’ musician, with grade 8 piano, grade 7 clarinet and a is a former chorister who has recently started re-enjoying the beauty of song.

Having visited St George’s as a student, the venue is now firmly back on the agenda. As for my favourite event, I will hopefully discover soon…

Jonathan Brecknell

Simon Cook MBE

Born and educated in Norwich and at the University of Sussex, Simon moved to Bristol in 1983 to study at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. After twenty years as a professional actor appearing widely on stage and screen, he became involved in local politics, serving as Lord Mayor of the city in 2004, Deputy Leader then Leader of Council. He stood down in 2016 after having served three years as assistant to the first elected Mayor. During this time, he focussed on renewing the city’s cultural life and institutions and was awarded an MBE in 2017 for his contribution to Bristol’s cultural life and made an honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Bristol.

I have always loved coming to St George’s, whether it be for its vibrant musical programme or for events like the Festival of Ideas. It is intimate and versatile with a beautiful acoustic and I am delighted to contribute what I can as a trustee to guarantee its future for the city. 

Simon Cook, MBE

Maria Crayton

Maria is a freelance Marketing Consultant with over 30 years experience both in agencies and as a client. She has valuable experience of destination marketing and working with organisations that have both a commercial imperative and charitable objectives.

She has been a NED for over 10 years; including 6 years as a Trustee of the RWA, 8 years as a Governor at BGS and has recently been appointed as a co-opted Trustee by St Peter’s Hospice.  She was a trustee at SGB for 3 years 2019 – 21and has returned to the board for a second term.

She is an Art History graduate who is passionate about supporting Bristol’s cultural venues.

 

Lots of lovely memories, Courtney Pine, Carols by Candlelight, 200 Anniversary Dinner, school concerts, socially-distanced performances in the garden, a glass of chilled wine in the bar!

Maria Crayton

Christian Cull

Christian Cull is Director of Marketing and Communications at the University of Bristol, with an office in the same street as St George’s. Having spent most of his time at the university being obliged to work through a screen, he relishes the atmospheric beauty of the concert hall, and enjoys the soup and toasties from the café bar. Christian has fully embraced the transferability of communications and marketing skills in a career that has included directorate roles at Waitrose and Sky, Vodafone and TUI, among others. Sadly, his musical skills extend no further than rudimentary violin and classical guitar at school, and he kindly declines to sing if ever asked.

 

St George’s represents the very best of Bristol – its true, inclusive spirit. Its vision for creative exchange should be seen by everyone; its welcoming music should ring out far beyond the seven hills of Bristol to the world at large.

Christian Cull

Dr Anna Farthing

Anna is a creative producer and cultural consultant. She is currently CEO of New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth and a trustee of National Museums Liverpool. She was previously Director of Civic and Cultural Engagement at Arts University Bournemouth with responsibility for the library, museum, gallery, and theatre, together with research and innovation. As Arts Programme Director for University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, she founded the hospital arts programme, and the Weston Arts and Health Festival. A Bristol University graduate, and resident for many years, she has contributed to a number of cultural initiatives in the city and is delighted to support the St George’s team.

St Georges has always been my favourite acoustic venue in Bristol. Memorable moments are too numerous to mention, but include various eclectic silent movie accompaniments, my own children appearing in choirs and orchestras, and renditions of ‘special occasion songs’ that I have written with David Ogden. ‘Stand Up For Good Food’ was sung as part of the BBC Food and Farming Awards and ‘The Bristol Song’ has been sung for several royal visits. I love the eclecticism of this place, and the welcome it offers to everyone.

Dr Anna Farthing

Roland Horne

Born in Dublin, Roland founded WatchHouse in 2014, having prior and extensive experience in running small to medium sized businesses. In addition he holds non-exec and exec directorships in the fields of property and management. Roland is a MSc graduate of Economic History from the LSE and recently graduated from Oxford University where he holds an Exec MBA.

Roland lives in Bristol with his Partner, Lizzie and three young children. He is a keen supporter of Ireland’s national rugby team.

My special St George’s memory is listening to the delightful melodies of Karine Polwart with my partner … what a magical place.

Roland Horne

Paul Kenyon (Deputy Chair)

Paul is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and has just retired from a 37-year business career, latterly as Group CFO at companies spanning the frozen food, footwear and veterinary services sectors. Paul has a varied performing background having sung in a number of choirs, performed on stage in everything from musicals to Grand Opera taking in Gilbert & Sullivan along the way as well as playing the trumpet in concert bands, dance bands, orchestras and brass ensembles.

 

 

My earliest memory of St George’s is taking our children to the Christmas concert when they could barely see over the back of the chair in front. Most memorable performance (aside from my daughter’s school concert!) would be the Tallis Scholars recent performance of works by both John Taverners. And I’m really looking forward to being able to attend the lunchtime concerts of rising young artists once I’m retired.

Paul Kenyon

Chris Ladkin

Chris has been part of the business community in Bristol for nearly 40 years, over which time he has built an expansive network of professional contacts and friends. He has been involved in fundraising for St George’s for over 10 years, with a particular focus on the successful completion the new building in 2018. Chris’s professional specialism is in insurance, where he has owned or run a number of businesses in the Bristol area over three decades. Chris has a classical singing background, from head chorister of St Albans Cathedral to singing in various choirs and musical theatre clubs.

My earliest memory of St George’s is from the stage as part of Bath Camarata, a truly brilliant group of choristers who still regularly perform at St George’s. I did a number of recordings at St George’s many years ago too and so I have lots of great memories of this beautiful acoustic hall as both a performer and a visitor. 

Chris Ladkin

Ian Oxley

Ian is the Head of Supporter Recruitment at the National Trust, Europe’s largest conservation charity. He is accountable for defining and delivering the new member and donor recruitment programme, growing income for the National Trust, broadening and diversifying its supporter base, and developing long lasting relationships with supporters. Ian has a passionate and lifelong interest in music beginning in the 1970s listening to LPs belonging to friends and family that continues to this day with regular attendance at concerts in Bristol and beyond. Ian has a strong belief in the ability of music to inspire people and bring them together.

I have enjoyed countless wonderful evenings of music in the beautiful surroundings of St George’s with a wave of emerging jazz talent coming through in the last decade including GoGo Penguin, Mammal Hands and Matthew Halsall. The 2021 Jon Hopkins gig sticks in the mind because it was so different from what I had come to expect from St George’s but perhaps the most memorable was the Neil & Liam Finn show in 2019 when performers and audience seemingly became one. As for my favourite memory, I hope that is still to come…

Ian Oxley

Professor Sue Rigby (Chair)

Professor Sue Rigby has been Vice Chancellor of Bath Spa University since 2018, and previously held senior roles at the Universities of Lincoln and Edinburgh. Sue is passionate about the arts. Her academic background lies in palaeontology, having held roles at Cambridge, Leicester and Edinburgh Universities. Sue is an Executive Member of the MillionPlus group, a Trustee Board member at Student Minds, and is also acting Chair of the QAA Credit Framework Group.

St George’s is a unique music and performance venue that could only exist and thrive in Bristol and the West of England. I am so honoured to be taking over as Chair of Trustees and look forward to supporting Samir with his vision for this wonderful organisation and its inspiring spaces.

Professor Sue Rigby, on joining as Chair

Madeline Toy

Madeline is an events professional with a background in arts festivals and trade publishing. She has been Head of Events and Stakeholder Engagement at UWE Bristol since January 2022. She started her career within the PR teams at Random House, moving to London following a postgrad in publishing at Plymouth University. Since moving back to Bristol at the end of 2013, she undertook various freelance PR projects before becoming part of the programming team at Cheltenham Literature Festival and then moving on to become Head of Literature Programming at Bath Festivals. She believes strongly in the shared experience of audiences coming together for live events and in the importance of community engagement projects within organisations, especially those related to education and the arts.

My first experience of St George’s was on a book tour many years ago and I loved it. Since moving back to Bristol I’ve been to a number of events, more recently for the MiniBeats sessions with my young girls. It’s such a special venue within the city and I’m so honoured to join as a Trustee.

Madeline Toy