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.
Richard is a bass baritone and cathedral musician who has sung regularly at St George’s every year since 1982. He is a founding member of Exultate Singers. Richard retired from a career in PwC in 2018, where his work was mainly in not for profit assurance and governance. He now divides his time between acting as trustee/non-executive director and governance consulting. Richard met his wife Joanna at University and they have three grown up children.
Professor Raymond Warren brought the University Singers to perform at St George’s in 1982. It was particularly memorable because we sang some of his music, along with other contemporary composers which were new to me. I have since performed in a number of world premieres in St George’s with the Exultate Singers, including works by Naji Hakim and Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, both of whom travelled to the performances and helped us rehearse.
By day a clinic coordinator for the NHS, by night an avid gig goer, Emma brings a passion and love of live music to her role as Trustee. With a special interest in equality, diversity and inclusion, partly from lived experience as a neurodivergent individual, and partly from a lifetime working in public service, Emma champions St George’s diverse musical output in her blog. She celebrated turning 40 by going to 40 gigs, well 51 (she got overexcited) and that led to her joining the board in 2019.
I fell in love with St George’s or St G’s as I affectionately call it as part of 40 gigs. It became my most beloved venue. It has the best acoustic in Bristol, no argument and it is a place where I have heard, loved and wept to music as diverse as Dobet Ghanore, Barb Junger, Lau, Kathryn Tickell, Catrin Finch & Seiko Keita, Sean Shibe, Terry Riley, Matthew Bourne, Sam Lee, Beverly Glenn Copeland, David McAlmont, Persian Sufi music, Indian classical music, Brona McVittie, Daniel Pioro, Evelyn Glennie and more quartets, orchestras and ensembles than you can shake a stick at. I couldn’t possibly pick a favourite from this list, they were all special in their own ways. Some were life affirming, some were joyous, others maudlin or reflective. At some I danced, at some I cried. Some of them transported me to another place and time. St George’s is a special place, full of history, but it is also a place looking to the future. I am excited to be part of that.
Maria is a marketing professional with extensive experience of working both from client and agency perspectives. She is currently working with the Bristol City Centre BID and Destination Bristol on the pandemic economic recovery strategy for Bristol, #BristolTogether and #LoveBristol campaigns. Maria’s particular interests lie in strategic planning, managing efficient implementation and a commercial approach to maximising revenue opportunities.
St George’s is one of Bristol’s special places. I am honoured to be a part of a small trustee team that is committed to supporting and nurturing it. The pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of cultural venues, and has taken away the simple pleasures of listening to live music. As a marketeer, I am passionate for more people to get to know and experience St George’s; that it is inclusive and welcoming; and is known as much for its diverse programme as its great cakes and sloe gin!
Diana’s experience stems from her 30 years’ leading London-based brand communications agency, MODUS, whose mission was to deliver creative communication strategies that enhanced brands’ social and cultural values. Today, as a business advisor, mentor, and educator her aim is to support ambitious organisations in the private, third or educational sectors, whether they are starting up, scaling up or going through transition, by bringing fresh insight and lateral thinking to deliver value to stakeholders. Her interests lie in digital transformation within organisations and the vital role it can play in innovative business practice and widening engagement and participation. Diana is excited to play a part in communicating the next chapter of the St George’s story.
St George’s was already on my radar as an outstanding music venue when I arrived in Bristol a few years ago. It has not failed to delight and surprise through the eclectic range of experiences it has offered from Kris Drever of Lau’s emotional rendition of ‘Ghosts’ to the tenor James Gilchrist’s stunning performance of Schubert’s Winterreise and Paul Lewis’ captivating performance of Haydn’s sonatas. And let’s not forget the spoken word programme which has provided the opportunity to hear iconic singer/songwriter Tracey Thorn discussing her teenage years at the launch of her memoir, ‘Stuck in Suburbia’, and the master crime writer, Ian Rankin, in conversation with forensic experts and detectives at the event, ‘Investigating Murder’.
Ben Heald (Chair)
Ben has been Chair of the Trustees since April 2018 and a Trustee since 2013. He studied psychology at Bristol University, then trained as an accountant with KPMG before returning to the city in 1996 to found digital media company Sift, which he now also chairs. He’s an amateur pianist and hopes one day to get back to playing the violin in an orchestra.
My most memorable St George’s experience was playing Mussorgsky’s Great Gate of Kiev from memory at the Musical Munros fundraising event for the St George’s capital development appeal in 2015. The first and only time I’ve ever had a standing ovation for anything I’ve done publicly!
Jenny Hemming (Vice Chair)
Jenny has been Vice Chair of Trustees since June 2019 but her involvement in and love of St George’s goes back much further. In 1997, she and her husband brought their family and legal careers from London to Bristol and discovering St George’s and its world-class music was one of their first Bristol delights. Jenny is an amateur oboeist and enjoys tinkering at the piano and singing. Outside of her extra curricular music, Jenny helps the built environment as a construction lawyer with the law firm, Osborne Clarke LLP.
Stephanie is a PhD candidate at UWE Bristol, working in partnership with Colgate-Palmolive. In 2017, Stephanie co-founded SEPH Group, a creative management brand focused on nurturing creative talent across sectors including music, film, design and photography. She is also a creative producer, photographer, and curator who has worked with creative institutions in Nigeria and within the UK. Some of these exhibitions have been featured on the BBC, ITV, the Voice, Tafari Art Gallery, the Arnolfini, and across the streets of Bristol city.
Whilst I have yet to see a major performance in the hall at St George’s, my most memorable experience so far was watching a live performance this summer on the roof of the building with some amazing artists. Breath-taking views, incredible music and positive vibes.
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.
Robert has lived and worked in Bristol since 1989. He set up an architectural practice with his wife Jenny Goss in 1991 – which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. In his professional life, Robert has found new uses for historic or landmark buildings in or around the city, mixing the new with the old on projects ranging from the Robinson Building in Bedminster to Clevedon Pier. As a Trustee, Robert has been involved in the new building at St Georges, a project that enhances the existing hall and secures its place in the future cultural fabric of the city. Frank Lloyd Wright said “architecture is frozen music,” and Robert is devoted to both arts.
My earliest recollection of St George’s is of Sunday afternoon concerts for children in the 1990s, which I took my son to and ignited his love of music. There is nothing finer than the enthusiasm of the artist, and the beauty of the music, lighting the flame in a newer generation. This is what St George’s is all about. And as an architect I just love the building.
Olumide Osinoiki is a freelance photographer, director, singer/songwriter and workshop facilitator. Olu is based in Bristol and represented by Rising Arts Agency & Babbasa fulfilling a broad spectrum of commissions for a diverse set of clients. Some of Olu’s notable clientele include the National Trust, the Guardian, the BBC and the Martin Parr Foundation. He has also spent time working within award-winning organisations like Plimsoll Productions and the Royal West of England Academy. Most recently Olu’s been working as a researcher at True to Nature for the second series of a Sky Kids show.
Elizabeth is a Bristolian and former pupil of Red Maids’ School. She has always been an active musician, playing violin, piano, and, since lockdown, the ukulele. She believes passionately in the social and mental benefits of community singing and has also been spotted at many of Bristol’s open mic bars. Elizabeth is a Chartered Accountant specialising in Finance change and transformation through people. She has worked predominantly in financial services until recently setting up her own company.
I feel a strong connection to St George’s as my Dad was responsible for repurposing the building when it was a redundant church, and my friend’s step-mum was one of the founding trustees. Apart from amazing acoustics, the combination of the old hall, the new extension and gardens provide a great variety of settings for different styles of performance. I love the diversity of the programme, from opera and classical music to sea shanties, gospel, jazz and spoken word and I also love that, as well as the professional musicians, it also welcomes local schools and community groups giving them the amazing experience of performing in a world class music venue.