OUR LEADERSHIP TEAM
GYLES BRANDRETH, BROADCASTER AND AUTHOR
In 2023, Gyles became the first official patron for Schoolreaders, a charity providing primary schools with dedicated volunteers to support children’s reading on a one-to-one basis. With one in four children currently leaving primary school unable to read to the expected standard, this provision is vital for many children, particularly the most disadvantaged. Schoolreaders volunteers support more than 19,000 children each week. Reading is the gateway to learning which then opens up life chances, something which Gyles understands deeply, making him the ideal Patron.
JANE WHITBREAD, Founder and Trustee
Jane started Schoolreaders in 2013 and has been delighted by the way it has been welcomed in the educational field. Jane’s early career was in marketing and product development with Unilever, United Biscuits, Johnson& Johnson. She subsequently set up an NGO in South Africa in 2001 in the health and welfare field and a related trust in the UK. Jane was President of the British Red Cross in Bedfordshire for 7 years. She lives in Bedfordshire, has four children and enjoys natural history, travel and sunshine.
JO HAWKINS, Financial Consultant
Jo has worked as a Chartered Accountant for over 20 years, working in the City of London for many years and now in private practice in Bedfordshire. As a mother to three young children Jo is particularly passionate about literacy and education. She serves as parent governor in her children’s school and is active in local governance and education. She loves travel, music and the arts and spending time with her family.
LUCY COPEMAN, Communications Director and Trustee
Lucy is a mother of two and runs a cut flower farm in Bedfordshire. For ten years before that she was a Director of Public Relations in a City agency. She is an active fundraiser and organiser for charities, and serves on the Bedfordshire county committees of the NSPCC and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. Her interests include music and choral singing.
ANNABEL COX , Head of Operations
Annabel manages the team who deal with our reading volunteers and schools on a day-to-day basis. Her background is in customer service, training delivery and logistics. Originally from Yorkshire, Annabel now lives in Hertfordshire and has two children at primary school and is also the chair of their PTA. Annabel is Schoolreaders' designated Safeguarding Lead.
ALEXANDRA SPURGEON, Head of Fundraising
Alex manages the fundraising team, who ensure Schoolreaders maintains great relationships with its supporters, and that it can continue to raise enough money to help the children who need it. Alex’s early career was in marketing within the corporate sector, before she made the decision to utilise those skills within the charity sector where she could work for the causes she felt most passionate about. She is a mother to two young children and loves spending time outdoors walking her dog.
VICTORIA HARRIS, Business Support Manager
Victoria manages the Business Support Team and has worked in the charity sector for over twenty years. Having grown up in Bedfordshire, she has moved nationally and internationally but now finds herself back home. Victoria lives in Bedford and has three sons, so literacy and education is very important to her. She enjoys running, travel, the arts and can be found most weekends on the rugby try line as she's a very proud Rugby mum.
OUR TRUSTEES AND SPECIAL ADVISERS
Founder and Trustee
See Jane's biography in
'Our Leadership Team'
See Lucy's biography in 'Our Leadership Team'
NICK FROY, Trustee
Nick is currently a Director of Education for Unity Schools Partnership which is a medium sized Multi Academy Trust based in East Anglia which has a range of primary, secondary and special schools. Previously he was a Headteacher of Newmarket Academy which under his leadership championed the importance of reading in supporting children to fulfil their potential and achieve great outcomes. He is also a Trustee of two smaller charities; one which support mental health in children and the other which provides horse-riding opportunities for disadvantaged children.
He is married with four children, lives in Cambridgeshire and is a keen cyclist.
STEVEN BRYAN, Trustee
Steven is a partner at the international law firm Paul Hastings LLP specialising in Corporate Law. He is a trustee of Room For Work, a charity focused on employability skills and networking for mature professionals, and is Church Warden of the parish church of St John's Hampton Wick in Hampton, Middlesex. He lives in Surrey, has three adult children and enjoys tennis, sailing, cycling, skiing, travel and art.
SHANNAN STEVENSON, Vice-Chair of Trustees
Shannan is a Senior Advisor at the international management consultancy firm McKinsey. Previously he was President & Company Officer at Procter & Gamble (P&G), leading organisations on the ground in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Middle East, North Africa and Asia. Throughout his business career, Shannan has had a keen interest in furthering the provision of core education skills amongst young people. Whilst living in China, he led P&G’s work with the China Youth Development Foundation in the provision of “Project Hope” schools for disadvantaged children. Shannan is married with four adult children and lives in Norfolk and London.
HARRIETT MATHER, Special Advisor
Harriett is a Managing Partner of a thriving criminal defence solicitors in Milton Keynes. She is also a Trustee of the Bedford-based community charity, the Harpur Trust. Harriet has extensive experience of safeguarding and has special responsibility for this area in her role as a Governor at Bedford Girls' School. She is also Safeguarding lead at Stony Stratford Cricket Club.
RORY LANDMAN, Trustee
Rory was Senior Bursar at Trinity College Cambridge until 2021. He was a Trustee of the College for over 14 years. Rory has a degree in Law from Cambridge University and qualified as a chartered accountant with KPMG. He is an experienced investor in public markets, private equity and property. Among other positions, Rory has been a member of the Cambridge University Finance Committee and is a Trustee of a number of educational charities. Rory has four sons and enjoys open-air activities and music.
ALICE GARNETT, Fundraising Consultant and Trustee
Alice has worked in the voluntary sector for almost 30 years. She began fundraising at the RNID (now Action on Hearing Loss) before becoming Assistant Director of Fundraising at Sense where she was responsible for Corporate, Trusts, Events and Major Donor Fundraising. In 2001 she completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Voluntary Sector Management at Cass Business School then worked as a freelance consultant for 16 years, advising charities on their fundraising strategy as well as mentoring and coaching their Directors, particularly in issues related to fundraising. Past clients include Breast Cancer Haven, Thomley Activity Centre and St James School Durban. Married with three daughters, Alice is a keen flautist and a Founder Member of the King John Orchestra in Cambridge.
ED SCOTT, IT Systems and Fundraising Consultant
Working closely with the Management Committee, Ed has worked with the charity since 2014, helping us expand the scheme from very small beginnings to its present scale, and championing the use of new technologies to streamline our operations. With a background in IT consultancy and operations management, Edward has special expertise in developing systems and programmes aimed at improving partner engagement. Edward's earlier experience included designing a unique training programme which encouraged digital creativity in schools, in order to improve children’s literacy and pupil engagement. In his spare time, Edward is a keen runner and he recently completed the Royal Parks Half Marathon on behalf of Schoolreaders.
HELEN LONG, Education and Safeguarding Advisory Group
Having worked in education for almost 30 years Helen is currently a SENCO (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) in a primary school in Central Bedfordshire. She is also an advisory teacher for pupils who have Down's Syndrome, a role which enables her to work across a number of counties and to work with pupils of all ages. Helen is very involved in the Bedfordshire Down’s Syndrome Support Group and was Chair of the charity for approximately 10 years.
GILLY RIACH, Education and Safeguarding Advisory Group
Gilly is a Headteacher of fifteen years standing and has led four Bedfordshire schools, some of them in challenging circumstances. All have made rapid improvements. Gilly describes her primary aim as a Headteacher as the enhancement of learning for all. She particularly enjoys working in Church Schools, developing a spiritual ethos and embedding Christian values at the heart of each school. Gilly has taught at all stages of primary school, and has also taught Hearing Impaired and Language Provision children. She has spent time working as an Education Consultant, coaching and mentoring staff in schools, and leading Primary National Strategies at a local level.