Royal Charter

The English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth is a registered charity, number 273136 and is incorporated by Royal Charter. Her Majesty the Queen is Patron of the ESU and Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal serves as President, and is a keen supporter of our charitable work.

The ESU’s Board of Governors, elected from its Membership, serve as trustees of the charity. The Board meets regularly four times a year and is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the organisation and oversees the work of the team at Dartmouth House, the ESU’s international Headquarters.

The Board is presided over by the Chairman, Lord Paul Boateng, who is supported by three officers – two Deputy Chairmen and the Treasurer – along with twelve further Governors.

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal is the President of the English-Speaking Union.  She succeeded her father, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, who retired in 2011.

The Rt Hon Lord Paul Boateng

Paul is a Barrister of Gray’s Inn, having completed a four year term as British High Commissioner to South Africa (2005 - 2009), was elevated to the Peerage in June 2010.  He has 30 years experience in public life in the law, politics and diplomacy.  He was, until he stepped down to take the post of High Commissioner in 2005, a Member of Parliament (1987 – 2005), and he served as a Cabinet Minister, and Chief Secretary to the Treasury under Tony Blair.  He was appointed to the Joint House of Lords House of Commons Standing Committee on the National Security Strategy in June 2014.

He has an extensive knowledge of Africa, where he spent much of his childhood, worked on African issues as a Vice Moderator of the World Council of Churches Programme to Combat Racism, and was active in the Anti Apartheid Movement.  He was the then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Special Representative to Africa, during the work of the Africa Commission 2004-2005.  He gave the keynote address on public service delivery to President Obusanjo’s Annual Retreat in Nigeria (2004).  He gave the keynote address at the request of the State Government at the Kuramo Conference 2010 in Lagos, on lessons of the Global Financial Crisis and the Implications for Africa and the Global Economy.  He was a UNECA resource person and panelist at the African Finance Ministers Meeting 2012 in Addis Ababa.  He is a frequent writer, broadcaster, and public speaker in Europe, Africa and the US on the development, financial and governance aspects of globalisation.  He is a Trustee of the International (Duke of Edinburgh’s) Youth Award, a Global Board member for Food for the Hungry, and the Planet Earth Institute – a charity promoting sustainable development through Higher Education, as well as Co-Chair of the Africa Intellectual Property Trust.  He is Moderator of the Africa Biblical Leadership Initiative, and works on a number of programmes promoting interfaith dialogue and good governance. He works with GAVI (the Global Alliance on Vaccine and Immunisation) as a Global Ambassador on vaccines in public health and children's immunisation, and is on the Health Advisory Board of Gilead Sciences, a global leader in the production of low cost high quality generic HIV pharmaceuticals.  He serves as an Advisor to PGI, a global security, research and risk management company, is Chair of Trustees Book Aid International and Christian Aid’s "In Their Lifetime Appeal", as well as to a number of companies and not-for-profit organisations.  Lord Boateng was elected Chair of the English-Speaking Union in January 2015.  He is a Non-Executive Director of Yoo Me Africa, and a Director of Akyem Law & Advisory Services Ltd, a company he founded to advise on the legal and regulatory aspects of emerging market business.

Derek Morgan OBE, DL, CCMI

Derek has been a member of the English-Speaking Union for 11 years. Together with a team of highly committed colleagues he has grown the South Wales branch from 18 to 380 members and it now delivers a comprehensive programme of schools’ public speaking and Performing Shakespeare competitions as well as oracy training in both primary and secondary schools. The branch has also worked internationally in Uganda, Mali and Bolivia.

Derek’s last full-time job was with PA consulting group as a main board director and group director responsible for the Midlands, South West and Wales, managing 90 consultants specialising in disciplines such as strategy, finance, marketing, manufacturing, human resources and project management. He also chaired the PA pension scheme for 10 years.

Post retirement he has held a wide range of roles as chairman in public, private and charitable sector organisations including the University Hospital of Wales NHS Trust; the BT advisory board for Wales; the Prince of Wales Youth Business Trust; Mid Glamorgan Education Business Partnership; Business in Focus – the largest enterprise agency in Wales; the British Heart Foundation; and the Macmillan Cancer Care appeal at the Princess of Wales Hospital.

Derek is a former High Sheriff of Mid Glamorgan, President of the Cardiff Chamber of Industry and Commerce, a council member of Swansea University and Vice President of Cardiff Business Club. He is also a Deputy Lieutenant of Mid Glamorgan, an honorary doctor of the University of South Wales and a Commander of St John Cymru.

Dr Tony Wood

Tony is Vice Chancellor Emeritus and Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bedfordshire, having formerly been its founding Vice Chancellor. He held concurrent Secretary of State appointments for 11 years as Chairman of the Bedfordshire Health Authorities. He is a chartered mathematician, and was awarded a PhD in Education as a part-time student following research into the effects on achievement of involving parents of primary school children in the curriculum.

In 2010 he pioneered Bedfordshire public speaking competitions for pupils aged seven to ten years, now in their eighth year, and with the English-Speaking Union developed and trialled nationally a series of speaking and listening activities for schools, subsequently published as a teachers’ resource book. The activities improve children’s self-confidence, self-esteem, and their command and use of English. He led a controlled university action-research programme which established that such activities significantly improve school performance, especially for disadvantaged pupils and those whose first language is not English.

He is passionate about providing opportunities for young children to improve their self-confidence to speak, debate and challenge the views of others in public, and is currently engaged in creating and supporting primary school oracy networks around the country.

Rod Chamberlain

Rod has been involved with the ESU since 1964, when he was an exchange scholar to the USA on the BASS (now SSE) programme. He first became a Member in 1989, has served on the Board since 2009, and was previously Honorary Treasurer from May 2014 until the most recent election. Rod has previously been Chairman of a charity for disabled people, has led a record-breaking fundraising campaign for his business school and has held various professional roles at Board level. His first career was in banking, and he is currently a non-executive director of a small bank, a self-employed career consultant, and mentor to several charity CEOs and Directors. Rod holds a particular interest in the ESU’s Alumni relations and ensuring that the ESU continues to engage with those whose lives it changes. As an Alumnus himself, Rod is keen to see his fellow Alumni get in touch with the ESU, an organisation that has provided so many life-changing opportunities to so many people.

Natasha Dyer
Natasha joined the ESU in 2015. With diverse international experience in strategic communications and development for public and not for profit organisations, she specialises in education and peacebuilding. She currently supports African government education programmes and international NGOs to enhance their impact on policy and social change. Natasha has been a mentor with the ESU for a year, and was a member of student debating and public speaking societies. In South Africa, she ran an NGO that builds young leaders through education and skills development, creating multiple speech and debate opportunities. In 2007, she set up her own scholarship initiative in Madagascar. She has supported the Clinton Global Initiative with the development of their University Programme, and campaigned for disarmament at the UN. Natasha has an MA in International Studies and Diplomacy from SOAS and a BA in Russian and French. She is excited about working with the ESU to extend its impact to more schools and children, and strengthen its international reach.

Andrew Hay
Andrew became a governor of the ESU on his appointment as Chairman of the Audit and Risk Committee in 2015. He was previously a governor from 2008 – 2010 and has been a member of the Investment Committee since that time (now in attendance rather than as an executive member). He has spent his career in international corporate finance and is currently also a non-executive director and trustee of several enterprises. He studied English at Oxford and has a life-long interest in English language and literature, and a firm belief in helping people to express themselves clearly and with confidence. He once taught English, in Botswana.

Lady Susan Inkin

Susan was an SSE Scholar to Chatham Hall, Virginia, in 1960, and whilst there she realised the importance of communication and the vital part the ESU has to play in the promotion of education and communication through the English language. Susan’s experience has been in the voluntary sector. She was a Governor of Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools, then Chairman of Governors at Haberdashers’ Girls school. Susan is a Member of South Wales Region of the ESU, and has been part of the committee that has overseen its growth to become the second largest after London. Susan is a firm supporter of the ESU’s activities in Speech and Debate, and has served as the South Wales representative, and Chairman, of the Members’ Committee of England & Wales.

Alex Just
Alex is a former President of the Oxford Union and, as a debater, was the World Masters Champion, a Grand-Finalist at the World Universities’ Debating Championship and a Grand-Finalist at the World Schools’ Debating Championship. Alex is an Alumnus of the ESU’s Capitol Hill Exchange and the US Debating Tour, and was an active Mentor whilst at University. He has coached Team Scotland to victory at the World Schools’ Debating Championships and has taught Speech & Debate in over 20 countries. Alex was one of the founders of QatarDebate, the first national debating organisation in the Arab World; and ‘Vocalise’, the first national prison debate organisation in the UK. Alex was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn and is currently a barrister specialising in employment and trade union law.

Jonathan Sobczyk

Jonathan graduated from Durham University, having studied PPE, and began his career as a teacher through the Teach First graduate programme, where he taught Humanities at Bow Boys School in Tower Hamlets. Jonny left the classroom to found to university access charity, The Brilliant Club, with Simon Coyle in 2010. The Brilliant Club now employs over 450 PhD students to tutor more than 7000 pupils from over 350 schools across the UK, helping pupils to secure places at leading universities. Jonny also co-founded Researchers in School, the world’s only teacher training programme exclusively for PhD graduates, which currently has 100 trainees working in 7 regions of the UK. Jonny was named in the ‘Top 10 Young UK Social Entrepreneurs’ and listed in The Observer’s ‘Britain’s 50 New Radicals‘. The Brilliant Club has been short-listed for The Sunday Times ‘Social Enterprise of the Year’ and was also listed in Social Enterprise UK’s ‘Top 5 Start Up Companies of 2012′.  Jonny has written for The Guardian and The Telegraph, and enjoys long walks with his wife, Sarah, and dog, Noah.

Anikka Weerasinghe

Anikka joined the ESU in 2015. As a communications strategist with extensive experience in media relations, corporate communications and reputational management, Anikka has worked in public sector organisations across the UK and Canada. Having worked in a number of roles in both the House of Commons and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK Branch, she has a strong appreciation for the importance of dialogue, discussion and debate in communicating ideas and promoting cultural understanding. Anikka holds an MSc. in Politics and Communications, and is currently completing an Executive MPA at the London School of Economics.

David Shaw OBE

Over his last fifteen years of executive work, retiring in 2017, David led The Crown Estate team responsible for the 21st Century regeneration of Regent Street. Prior to this David was a Management Board Director of retailer The Burton Group. David is non executive Chairman of The Pollen Estate that is the largest land owner in East Mayfair. He is also a non executive director of The New West End Company, The Mayfair Art Weekend and the Orpheus Sinfonia Foundation. David was awarded an OBE in 2014 for services to the retail industry and charitable work.

April Heard

April joined the ESU Board of Governors in 2017 as a safeguarding specialist. She is a former Police Detective Inspector with experience of risk management of sexual and violent offenders in the community within a multi-agency environment. In her current role within the national safeguarding team for the Methodist Church, her focus is on developing policy and effective practice in risk assessment and providing guidance on the management of safeguarding issues. She has previously worked in education, teaching English in both the UK and Sierra Leone. April is currently undertaking an MSc in Criminology and Criminal Psychology with a particular interest in the detection of deception. She has a life-long passion for the development and use of language and an appreciation of the potential for empowerment that ESU programmes provide.

Coral Sebag-Montefiore

Coral has been a Member of the ESU for seven years, and has served on the committee of the ESU’s London Region in various roles, most recently in her current standing as London Region Chairman. She also serves as Vice Chairman of the Members’ Committee of England & Wales. Coral has over 30 years’ involvement with various voluntary organisations, including as Chairman of the Education Committee of the North West Reform Synagogue, and as co-founder of Highgate Bereavement Service. In her professional life, Coral worked in Public Relations for, amongst others, Bell’s Whisky and the Abbey School for Speakers. Coral has a particular interest in broadening access to the ESU’s charitable work, something to which she has demonstrated dedication in her role as London Region Chairman, as the Committee are regular supporters of programmes including the London Debate Challenge and Performing Shakespeare.

Barbara Firth

Bio coming soon

Ellen Punter

Ellen joined the ESU in 2016; now working part time, she decided to use some of her free time in a constructive way within her local community and its schools, working alongside like-minded people to promote a real appreciation of the power of the spoken word. Having held a number of ‘hands on’ volunteering positions for many years, she is presently an active member of: the ESU Ouse Valley Branch, the Sharnbrook Mill Theatre Trust and Soroptimist International’s Bedford Club. Having pursued a diverse career in education in the UK and Texas, USA, Ellen has vast experience in: leadership, management, teaching, mentoring and tutoring children, young people and adults, in schools, colleges, universities and their homes. Alongside co-ordinating inter-school debates and public speaking competitions in schools, at home and abroad, she has directed whole school Shakespeare performances. She feels passionately that all children, young people and adults should have the freedom to articulate their ideas, opinions and arguments; be listened to and respected; feel enthused and motivated; ultimately being empowered to achieve their full potential.

James Scruby

Bio coming soon

Prof. James Raven LittD FSA

James is a Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and Professor of History at the University of Essex. He joined the ESU as a student, was twice an ESU exchange scholar and has served as a Branch Chairman, President, Member and as the Chairman of various Regional and National ESU Committees. He has served two previous terms as Governor, as a judge of numerous ESU speaking, literary and writing competitions, and is a regular speaker at ESU branches in this country and abroad. He therefore joins the current Board with over 30 years’ experience at the ESU. He is also a member of the Pilgrims of Great Britain. James has a particular interest in furthering collaboration between international ESUs, as well as extending the reach and appeal of the ESU’s work in Speech & Debate and in scholarship and exchange opportunities for teachers and other professionals involved with young people, education and information exchange. As a writer, academic and broadcaster specialising in literary culture, an internationally recognised authority in the history of the book, and a past and present Fellow of two Cambridge and one Oxford colleges, James has a longstanding involvement in promoting international educational, scholarship and partnership schemes and membership engagement. James is passionate about ensuring that the profile of the ESU is raised so that more benefit from the broad programme  of charitable work.