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 ten 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.

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, has served 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.

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.

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.

Mike Churchman
Mike was appointed a Counsellor to the ESU in 2012, and has drawn on an extensive career in advertising and communications to advise the organisation on its publicity and marketing activity as the ESU approaches its centenary year. Having graduated in 1973, Mike spent the next 18 years working in top London advertising agencies, and his last corporate role was as MD of one of Grey’s subsidiary companies. In 1991, Mike founded his own consultancy, and retired from commercial life in December 2011. Mike was a school Governor for over two decades, and Chair of Governors of a large comprehensive school. As a communications professional, Mike is dedicated to the better use of English as a means of communication and understanding, particularly as the number of global English speakers continues to rise.

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.

Sir Michael Graydon GCB, CBE
Michael has been involved with the Lincolnshire Branch of the ESU since 2001, and has served a previous term as Governor from 2011-2014. Michael had a career in the Royal Air Force which spanned some 40 years and took him abroad on operations and at International Headquarters.  His last post was as the Chief of Air Staff in London in the 1990s. Since that time, Michael has served as Chairman, Non-Executive Director and Advisor to a number of companies, mainly in the Aerospace sector. He has been involved in education for some 15 years, and is currently Chair of United Learning which manages 47 schools and academies throughout England. Through this work, Mike understands the value of the work of the ESU in using the power of written and spoken English as an educational tool.

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.

Holly Shakespeare
Holly first joined the ESU 30 years ago, and has been Chairman of both Exeter & District Branch and the London Region. Her involvement with such large and active ESU Branches gives her a firm understanding of Members’ needs. In her professional life, Holly enjoyed a career in radiotherapy and radiation physics, which included the launch of a new School of Radiotherapy in Boston, Massachusetts. She has served as a counsellor and Governor of a High School in Devon, and has previously served as a Governor on the ESU’s Charitable Activities Committee, where her particular interest has been to broaden the horizons of young people through the work that the ESU undertakes and, in doing so, equip them to realise their full potential.

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.

Roger Tilbury
Roger became a Member of the ESU upon his return from an ESU Debating Tour of Canada. He pursued a career in education, ultimately as Head of a liberal independent school. Whilst at a Comprehensive School, he coached the winners of the ESU’s National Public Speaking Competition for Schools and has subsequently chaired the judges at the UK final of the same competition on three occasions, as well as being involved in the International Public Speaking Competition and on the selection panel for the English World Schools Debate Team. Roger has been Treasurer and Chairman of the West Sussex Branch, Chairman of the South East Region and, for ten years, served as the Chairman of the Public Speaking Committee at Dartmouth House. As a former teacher of both English and modern languages, Roger is passionate about the ESU’s international work and development of the educational opportunities the ESU affords in the UK.

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.