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Board of Trustees

The Board of Non-Executive Directors is made up of professionals from a range of industry backgrounds. 

Working with the Chief Executive, they set the strategic direction for the organisation and ensure that its goals are fully aligned with the Opera House’s vision. Trustees provide expert knowledge and guidance on governance, finance, management and business planning.

The Board meets a minimum of five times a year. There is a Finance, Audit and Risk Subcommittee, a Remunerations Committee and a Nominations Committee. The sub-committees report to the main Board to assist its decision-making. 


Professor Judy Simons (Chair)

Professor Judy Simons has an extensive background in university senior management. She is now emeritus professor of English at De Montfort University, and a research fellow at the University of London. She has chaired several national higher education bodies, including a £16M programme on stimulating creative business for the Arts and Humanities  Research Council from 2012-17. She was Chair of the National Council of Deans of Arts and Humanities, has advised the DCMS on arts education, and was on the strategic committee for Leadership, Governance and Management at the Higher Education Funding Council.

Judy lives in Bakewell and is a long-standing supporter of Buxton Opera House and patron of the Buxton Festival. From 2009-17, she was on the Board of Sheffield Hallam University, where she was Deputy Chair, and was also a trustee of Leicester Arts for eight years. Currently she is a trustee of the Girls Day School Trust and Chair of City CV, an international career development company. She is the author and editor of ten books and over 150 articles, and is a passionate believer in the transformative power of the creative arts and their central role in the local economy. 


Lady Jasmine Cavendish (Patron)

Lady Jasmine Cavendish has been a Non-Executive Director and the Patron of Buxton Opera House for 10 years. Her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, live at Chatsworth, not far from Buxton. The Cavendish family have had strong connections with the town that reach back over three hundred years. The 11th Duke of Devonshire was the first Patron of Buxton Opera House.

Lady Jasmine gained a degree from East Anglia University and has worked in the Arts Sector. She continues to have a strong interest in the performing arts. She is also President of the charity Contact the Elderly and Patron of the Buxton Poetry Competition.

Her home is in London with her husband Nicholas Dunne and their 3 young sons.


Kathryn Gilson (Company Secretary)

Kathryn Gilson is a qualified Company Secretary currently working as a freelance corporate governance professional.  She has over 25 years’ experience in governance and company secretarial roles, having spent her career predominantly with corporations in the finance and service sectors including Barclays, the AA, Direct Line and the Co-operative.  Kathryn has significant experience advising Boards on corporate governance best practice and project managing large scale corporate transactions.  In 2005, she obtained a Corporate Governance Masters degree.

Kathryn moved to Buxton with her husband in 2011 to run Griff House bed and breakfast.  Having undertaken a renovation, Griff House achieved a 4 star tourist board rating.  In 2016 Griff House received a ROSE Award from Visit England in Recognition Of Service Excellence. 

Kathryn was Treasurer to the Buxton Well Dressing Festival when the decision was taken to form a registered charity. She assisted the Committee throughout this process and has served as a Trustee since the charity’s registration in 2013.


Nicholas Jeffrey

Nicholas Jeffrey lives in the Peak District and holds a Law degree from Sheffield University. His executive career began in Buxton, where he managed the Cantors furniture store before eventually becoming Executive Chairman of the company. He has particular expertise in the retail and commercial sector, and has held a series of non-executive Chairmanships, where he has guided companies through strategic change management and overseen transformational business growth.

Nicholas now enjoys a portfolio career, which has included over 25 Board roles in private, public and charity organisations. He was Chairman of Sheffield Hallam University followed by six years chairing Sheffield Children’s Hospital Trust. He is currently Chairman of Ashgate Hospice Care Trust in Chesterfield.

An active supporter of Buxton International Festival and the Kinder Children’s Choir, Nicholas is committed to securing the future of Buxton Opera House.


Pamela Johnson

Pamela Johnson is an independent audience development and fundraising consultant. During her 25+ year career she has worked with theatres, touring companies, museums and for Arts Council England. She was an academic for 11 years and Senior Lecturer for Arts, Cultural Policy & Management programmes at universities in Cambridge and London, devising and delivering the first Arts Fundraising module for City University’s Masters degree. 

More recently she was Senior Consultant for The Audience Agency, responsible for business and resource development, training and client consultancy in audience development and fundraising across East Anglia. She led region wide data benchmarking projects, a national research study into the low level giving behaviours of audiences and visitors, which was widely published, and created a suite of online articles, case studies and toolkit resources. She has been an arts trustee for 12 years and is a member of the Institute of Fundraising.


Julie Morrissy

Julie is a specialist construction and engineering lawyer with experience of working on projects with clients in a number of sectors and regularly advises clients on capital expenditure projects. She has advised on the funding and delivery of a number of projects involving the refurbishment of theatres and art spaces.

Julie started her career as an academic before becoming a lawyer. She studied English Literature has a PhD on British Contemporary Theatre and has continued her life-long interest in learning and theatre. She has advised on the funding and delivery of a number of projects involving the refurbishment of theatres and art spaces.

Julie has always been involved in external initiatives and was instrumental in setting up the hugely successful Prince's Trust "Get Into Construction programme", working alongside the Chief Executives of a number of major international construction and infrastructure businesses to bring businesses together to create opportunities for disadvantaged young people within the industry. She also currently sits as a Governor on the Board of a UK University. 


Angela Phillips

After gaining a Law degree at Newcastle University Angela qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Coopers and Lybrand before working as a Tax and Law Lecturer with Financial Training now part of Kaplan.

She then moved into Financial Management with Whitbread as Head of Financial Services for Thresher. Following this she was with BUPA, working in both the Insurance and Hospital Divisions, before becoming Director of Finance and Support Services in the newly created Spire Healthcare when the Hospital Division was sold to Private Equity.

Since then she has held Director of Finance posts in the Public Sector with Stockport Primary Care Trust and the University of Bradford. Angela has also been a Trustee Board member of 2 Charities: Alternative Futures Group where she was Vice Chair and chaired the Audit Committee, and Douglas MacMillan Cancer Hospice where she chaired DM Enterprises Ltd the entity operating all of the Charity Shops.

Having retired from full time employment Angela is currently a Non-Executive Director of the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital Trust, where she chairs the Workforce Committee. Angela is also a Governor at RNN Group an education and training provider.

Her hobbies include travel, landscape photography and going to the theatre.


Louise Potter

Louise Potter owned The Old Hall Hotel, Buxton for 25 years. She did her General Catering Diploma at High Peak College, Buxton and worked with Grand Metropolitan Hotels in London. She was a Governor at High Peak College when it merged with the University of Derby. In 2001 she opened 6 The Square Tearooms Buxton.

Currently she is on the Board of the High Peak Theatre Trust, Board of Buxton Festival and Chairman of Kinder Children’s Choirs Trust. Louise’s Interests include art, opera, archaeology, gardening and travel.


Keith Savage

Keith Savage moved to Buxton more than 30 years. His professional background is in teaching and education. He taught in primary schools and in further and higher education before retiring five years ago. His qualifications include degrees in Social Science and Education. Keith has written dozens of articles as a journalist as well as contributed to two successful academic books.

Keith was elected as a High Peak Borough Councillor for the Cote Heath ward (in Buxton) in 1995, 2011 and 2019. On each occasion he has been happy to be nominated by the Council to serve on the Board of the High Peak Theatre Trust.

Keith was a member of the trustees of the Buxton Festival Fringe from 2004-2019 and chaired the board for the last six years which saw the Fringe grow significantly. Keith has also been a member of another local charity - Buxton Film - which over a period of 9 years has developed an audience for film from all over the world. Buxton Film has worked in association with the Opera House to present a number of week-long film festivals. Keith played a part in gaining public recognition for the film and TV director Robert Stevenson - best known for Mary Poppins - who was born in Buxton.


Alan Scott

Alan is a former Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers who worked for the HSBC Group for more than 35 years, which included many senior management and leadership roles.  Whilst his speciality was corporate banking and corporate turnaround / restructuring; Alan managed many business relationships during his career ranging from sole traders to FTSE100 companies in a variety of sectors such as contracting, manufacturing, retail and engineering. 

Since retiring, Alan has been a guest lecturer at Sheffield Business School and is a director of 2 other local charities.  

A proud Scotsman, Alan’s interests are rugby union, hill walking and music.


John Silverwood

John is a Chartered Fellow of The Institute of Personnel and Development. John spent most of his career working in the manufacturing sector initially in textiles and latterly in soaps and detergents. He left the role of Group HR Director with PZ Cussons in 2008 and then worked as HR Director for the University Hospital of  South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust until he retired in 2012.

John hails from Nottingham but now lives in Stafford. He has a keen interest in music and is a Member at Nottinghamshire Cricket Club.


Amy Simcox

Amy Simcox is currently Head of Fundraising at Derby Museums where she has responsibility for creating and implementing the fundraising strategy. She is also a 2017-2018 Professional Fellow on the Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy Fellowship Programme.  She has worked in Development in a variety of charities, but is especially passionate about working in the Arts and Heritage sector.

Amy is an avid Buxton Opera House and Pavilion Arts Centre visitor. She is very proud to have such an organisation in Buxton and is excited to be part of its future.  Whilst she enjoys a wide range of theatre and music, she has to confess to a secret love of a good musical!


Colin Sykes

Colin Sykes is a professional journalist best known for his appearances on BBC North West Tonight where he was the programme’s Environment Correspondent for 15 years. Colin began his career as a newspaper journalist before switching to broadcasting and the BBC where he worked for more than 30 years in both radio and television. He was Deputy Manager of BBC Radio Manchester, a regular producer of BBC North West Tonight and ran the pilot programmes for the BBC’s move into its new state of the art news studio at MediaCity in Salford. He now teaches broadcast journalism at the University of Sheffield.

Outside work, Colin is a keen supporter of the arts and is passionate about Buxton Opera House. He produced an annual charity gala at the theatre for 12 years raising more than £120.000 for cancer research. He is a keen pianist and also performs with a four part harmony group raising money for charities in and around Buxton where he lives. Because of his TV work he has compered and chaired numerous concerts, conferences and award ceremonies throughout the North West.



Find out more:
To contact the Non-Executive Directors, write c/o the Theatre Secretary:

Buxton Opera House
Water Street
Buxton
Derbyshire
SK17 6XN.