Read our Trustees' biographies

Read our Trustees' biographies

Rupert Gavin, Chairman

Rupert Gavin is a British business leader and theatre impresario. He is currently Chairman of Historic Royal Palaces and is a former CEO of BBC Worldwide and of Odeon Cinemas. He is also Chairman of the Honours Committee for Arts and Media. As a producer he is notable for a long series of successful plays and musicals over 30 years through his company Incidental Colman. His productions/co-productions have won nine Olivier awards.

He is a non-executive director of Wyevale Garden Centres and Countrywide plc. He is also a co-owner of L’Escargot restaurant and an advisory board member of the Founders Forum, a community for global entrepreneurs, CEOs, and investors. He is also Warden of the Worshipful Company of Grocers.

He read economics at Magdalene College, Cambridge University. After graduation he took a copywriting role at Sharps advertising agency; he eventually became an equity partner in the firm before it was sold to Saatchi & Saatchi. While working at Sharps he established close links with Dixons Store Group, and would eventually go on to become Deputy Managing Director of the electronics retailer. In 1994, he joined British Telecom to work on its internet and multimedia strategy; he went on to become Managing Director of the firm’s consumer division. In 1998 he became Chief Executive of BBC Worldwide. He was CEO of UCI Cinemas Group from 2005 to 2014.

Zeinab Badawi

Zeinab is a well-known broadcast journalist. She hosts BBC’s Hard Talk and also Global Questions and World Debates on BBC World TV.

Through her own production company she has made many programmes, including currently an TV African history series in partnership with UNESCO.

In 2009 she was International TV Personality of the Year (Association of International Broadcasters), and was in Powerlist 2012 and 2015 (Britain’s top 100 influential members of the black community).

She is the current Chair of the Royal African Society, a patron of BBC Media Action (the charitable arm of the BBC), a Vice-President of the United Nations Association UK, and a board member of the African Union Foundation.

She is also a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council. Zeinab was trustee of the National Portrait Gallery and a board member of the British Council and the Centre for Contemporary British History.

Professor Sir David Cannadine

David Cannadine is Dodge Professor of History at Princeton University, Visiting Professor of History at the University of Oxford, and Editor of the Dictionary of National Biography.

He is the author of fifteen books, including The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy, G.M. Trevelyan: A Life in History, Mellon: An American Life and, most recently, a life of King George V.

Sir David has also served as a Commissioner of English Heritage, a member of the Eastern Regional Committee of the National Trust, a member of the Royal Mint Advisory Committee, and also is the Vice-Chairman of the Westminster Abbey Fabric Commission.

He is also a former chair of the Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery.  He is a Trustee of the Wolfson Foundation.

Bruce Carnegie-Brown

Bruce Carnegie-Brown is Chairman of Group plc, Vice Chairman of Banco Santander SA, a non-executive director of Santander UK plc and a non-executive director of JLT Group.

He is a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers and a Companion of the Chartered Institute of Management.

Ajay Chowdhury

Ajay Chowdhury is Partner and Managing Director at BCG Digital Ventures. He was formerly CEO of Seatwave, a European online ticketing marketplace that was sold to Ticketmaster. Prior to this, he was CEO of ComQi, a global omni-channel retail technology company before which he co-founded IDG Ventures Europe (IDGVE), a $100m European venture capital fund.

At IDGVE he was the founder investor and Chairman of Shazam, a $1bn mobile audio recognition company and also invested in and served on the board of Lionhead, a games developer, sold to Microsoft.

Prior to IDGVE, Ajay was CEO of LineOne - a joint venture between United News and Media and British Telecom - which he grew into one of the UK’s largest portals and ISPs.

He is Deputy Chairman of the British Screen Advisory Council and has been Non-Executive Director of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Ajay Chowdhury joined the Board of Trustees in August 2016.

General the Lord Houghton of Richmond GCB CBE

160th Constable of the Tower, following more than 40 years in the British Army.

General Houghton commanded 39 Infantry Brigade in Belfast during the period which led to the Good Friday Agreement. He was the Director of Military Operations in the Ministry of Defence at the time of 9/11; at the outset of operations in Afghanistan; and during the Foot and Mouth Crisis. Subsequently, he was Chief of Staff of the ACE Rapid Reaction Corps from July 2002 to April 2004 and Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Operations) from May 2004 to October 2005.

More recently, General Houghton was the Senior British Military Representative and Deputy Commanding General of the Multi-National Force-Iraq from October 2005 until March 2006. He became Chief of Joint Operations in April 2006 at the time of the commitment of UK Forces to Southern Afghanistan and, subsequently, during the extraction of UK Forces from Southern Iraq. He was appointed both OBE and CBE for his time in Command in Northern Ireland and awarded the US Legion of Merit for his service in Iraq. He was appointed KCB for his time as CJO.

General Houghton became VCDS in May 2009. He was central to implementing the outcomes of the 2010 SDSR and was the sole military member of Lord Levene’s Defence Reform team. He was advanced to GCB in 2011. He assumed the appointment of Chief of the Defence Staff in July 2013.

General Houghton joined the Board of Trustees in August 2016.

Jane Kennedy

Jane Kennedy is a senior partner and former Chairman of Purcell, a large international firm of architects specialising in the conservation and development of historic buildings and places.

She has over 35 years’ experience in the care and development of historic buildings and has played a key role in securing the future of some of the finest historic buildings in the country.

Jane has been Surveyor to the Fabric of Ely Cathedral since 1994, and has overseen a period of major restoration within the Cathedral and its precincts. Jane has also served as a Commissioner for English Heritage and is a Trustee of the Chiswick House and Gardens Trust and a member of the Canal and River Trust’s Heritage Advisory Committee.

Carole Souter CBE

Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund from 2003 to April 2016. Carole has over 30 years’ experience of policy development and operational management in the public sector.

She has worked on health and social security policy, the development of legislation, and cross-departmental planning and has managed teams of several thousand staff as a Benefits Agency Area Director. She also worked in the Departments of Health, Social Security and the Cabinet Office, before moving out of the civil service.

Carole has degrees in Politics and Philosophy and Victorian Studies.

She currently sits on the Boards of Creativity, Culture and Education, the Kent Wildlife Trust and the National Communities Resource Centre. She was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 2014.

Mike Stevens CVO

Deputy Treasurer to The Queen since April 2007 and Deputy Keeper of the Privy Purse since April 2011. Mike was Finance Director of The Royal Collection Trust from 1995 to 2014.

He has also been a Governor and Member of Council, King Edward VII Sister Agnes Hospital since July 2011 and Chairman of the hospital's Audit Committee since 2013.

Formerly a Senior Manager with KPMG, his career included working in the UK and the Middle East between 1979 and 1995.

Mike is a Trustee for a number of small charities and several pension funds. Mike joined the Board of Trustees in August 2015.

Sue Wilkinson MBE

Sue has held a number of prominent roles within the arts and education.  She is currently Chief Executive of the Reading Agency. Prior to this she was Director of UK Academic and Government Alliances at Elsevier.

Sue read history at Clare College Cambridge, trained as a teacher and did a post-graduate course in museum education at the University of Leicester. As Director of Policy at the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) she created the ground-breaking quality and impact framework, Inspiring Learning for All, which is now used in museums, archives and libraries all over the world.

While at MLA she worked with public libraries and their partners to deliver a wide range of programmes, and with local museums to establish, and secure funding for the Renaissance in the Regions programme.

She was awarded an MBE for services to museum education in 2014. Sue is also a trustee of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

M Louise Wilson FRSA

Louise Wilson is currently a Fellow in Advanced Global Leadership at Harvard University.

She established her career at Accenture and gained her marketing and commercial expertise at Procter & Gamble, Pepsi-Co and The Coca Cola Company. Louise founded Signature Sponsorship Limited, an international marketing and sponsorship company, and following London’s successful bid, was appointed as the Client Services Director for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

A Non-Executive Director of the University of Nottingham and a Trustee on the DRET Academy Trust, Louise is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Board Member of The Marketing Group of Great Britain and the International Women’s Forum, and an award winning contributor to the European Sponsorship Association.