Meet the Board

Mark Pemberton OBE

Chairman 

Mark has spent his entire career in the heritage sector. He joined Ironbridge straight from Cambridge, where he read history, becoming Deputy Director before joining the Science Museum as Assistant Director. His final role was as Director of National Collections for English Heritage where he was responsible for the care, conservation and commercial development of its 400 historic sites.  

He chairs the Museum’s Nominations and Membership Committee. He is a trustee of a number of charities in the museum and heritage sector.  

Mark became Chairman in September 2019. 

Rupert Kenyon-Slaney DL

Deputy Chairman 

Rupert spent 20 years in the City working in investment banking, and was formerly a Director of Barclays Wealth prior to returning to Shropshire. A farmer, as well as a history of architecture graduate from the University of East Anglia, he has a particular interest in the restoration of historic houses and their landscapes.  

Rupert leads the Trust’s fundraising activities as Chairman of the Development Committee and  also chairs the HR, Welfare and Remuneration Committee. 

 Rupert joined the Board in July 2016. 

Karen Mackenzie 

Karen Mackenzie is a chartered accountant and a KPMG Audit Director. She chairs both the Finance and Audit committees and is a Director of Ironbridge Gorge Trading Company Ltd. 

Outside of KPMG, Karen is a trustee and treasurer for the charity Anorexia and Bulimia Care and is Treasurer of the Pension Administration Standards Association whose aim is to improve pension scheme members’ experience. Karen has also been a school governor for a number of years and is currently Chair of Harborne Primary School in Birmingham. She also works with Mosaic as a mentor to students at Rockwood Academy, a secondary school. 

 Karen joined the Board in July 2016. 

David Brammer 

David is a solicitor and a Legal Associate of the Royal Town Planning Institute who has dealt with all aspects of planning law and practice. He was previously a partner at a local law firm and has worked at large corporate law firms and in local government. He has lived in Shropshire for over 25 years and has extensive experience in the voluntary sector. He is also a non executive director at his former university, sitting on the board of the students’ union trading company. 

David chairs the Health and Safety Committee. He joined the Board in July 2018. 

Jonathan Kidson

Jonathan has been involved with the Trust for many years having been Chairman of the Ironbridge Gorge Development Trust before its merger with the Museum Trust in 2012. A chartered accountant, Jonathan is a retired partner of KPMG and he is actively involved with a number of charities including Shropshire ME Group of which he is Chairman.  

Jonathan joined the Board in July 2015. 

Dr Liz Nicholson 

Liz was formerly the Director of Education and then Corporate Director of Children and Young People’s Service at Shropshire Council. Liz’s career also includes consultancy work in leadership development and mentoring, as an accredited mentor through the Mentor Plus Scheme. 

Liz also served as a non-executive director at South Staffs & Shropshire NHS Foundation Trust, where she chaired the Quality Assurance and HR committees of the Board; and has also held a number of other voluntary roles including Joint Chair, Youth Offending Service Board – Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin; Chair, Shropshire Safeguarding Children Board and Chair, West Midlands Integrated Youth Support Services Forum.  

Liz chairs the Diversity Equity and Inclusivity Committee. She joined the Board in July 2018. 

Howard Thorne 

Having read Economic History at Leicester University where he specialised in the origins of the industrial revolution and has retained an interest in the subject and in the work of the Museum. After initially working in sales and marketing he set up Shropshire Homes in 1981 and is now part-time Chairman. 

He was a trustee of Shropshire Wildlife Trust for 8 years and is Chair of Shrewsbury Town in the Community. 

Howard joined the Board in July 2021. 

Eleanor Appleby 

Eleanor is Head of Visitor Communications at Tate which she joined in 2017 after 5 years as a strategy and communications consultant working in museums and the arts. Earlier roles include Head of Marketing for the English National Opera (ENO) and Communications Manager at the V&A. She has a background in costume design and a drama degree from Bristol University. 

Eleanor joined the Board in July 2021. 

Mike Kirk 

Mike holds a number of non-executive roles. He is Chair of the Hyde Group and of Vivid Homes and Executive Chairman of Quadrise Fuels International. He is also a former Chair of the Thackray Medical Museum and TCV-a national environmental, volunteering charity. 

He has an engineering background with degrees from Leeds University and Imperial College and an MBA from the Cass Business School. He began his professional career at Cazenove & Co and was Managing Director of Weber Shandwick’s financial PR business in London. 

Mike joined the Board in July 2021. 

Jennifer Francis 

Jennifer is a freelance practitioner specialising in museums and the arts. Previous appointments include five years as Executive Director of Marketing and Communications at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and eight years as Head of Press and Marketing at the Royal Academy of Arts. She has also held senior roles at the Royal College of Art and the V&A in public relations and marketing. Jennifer has held a number of public appointments and board positions. She has an MA in Cultural Leadership and Policy Management from the City University. 

Jennifer joined the Board in July 2021. 

Chris Walker 

Chris is Executive Director Business & Operations for Royal Museums Greenwich. Having read Classics at Oxford he trained as a Chartered Accountant and has worked almost entirely within the arts and heritage sector. Previous roles have been as Head of Finance for the Royal National Theatre, Director of Finance for UK Sport, Interim CEO for the Royal Armouries and Director of Finance and Operations for the National Gallery. 

Chris joined the Board in July 2021 

Advisors to the Board of Trustees

Gaye Blake Roberts MBE 

Gaye has a long association with the Museum having served as a Trustee and as Deputy Chairman. She is a Vice-President and chairs the Collections and Learning Committee. Her early career was spent in the Ceramics Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A)  after which she became Director of the Wedgwood Museum. She is an internationally recognised expert on Wedgwood. 

Gaye has an Honorary Doctorate from Keele University where she chairs the College of Fellows and  is Chair of the Raven Mason Collection at Keele and a Senior Research Fellow at the V&A. 

Gaye stepped down as a Trustee in 2019 having completed the maximum number of terms and became an Advisor. 

Richard Clowes 

Richard has been involved with the Trust for a number of years, initially as Chairman of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Development Trust.  He is a Chartered Engineer with a career in the UK engineering industry including TI Group plc and prior to his retirement in 2006 he was on the main board of GKN plc.  

Richard is also a non-executive director, Deputy Chairman of the PDSA and a Trustee at Shrewsbury Drapers Hall.  

Richard joined the Board in July 2009. 

Beth Foster 

Beth is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Lead at Google where she drives representation goals, equity programmes and inclusion capabilities and initiatives for staff in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. After gaining a degree from Lancaster University and the University of California at Berkeley she worked in investment banking before joining Google in 2008. Beth was educated in Shropshire and has been a volunteer at the Museum. 

Beth joined the Board in July 2021. 

Ironbridge Gorge Trading Company Ltd

The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Museum Trust managing its visitor generated income-mainly retail and catering.  

Shirley Jackson

Chair 

Shirley was appointed Chair in 2022. She has extensive experience of commercial activities in museums and was formerly Commercial Director of the Ashmolean Museum and before that of English Heritage. In both roles she managed retail, catering, venue hire and events. Prior to that he held senior roles in WHSmith Retail and Boots.  

Niall Trafford

Director 

Niall  has worked since 2019 as an independent expert advisor and Executive Coach. Prior to that he was Chief Executive of BRE- a multi- disciplinary science organisation of which the majority of its work was government research testing and consultancy. His earlier career was with Marks & Spencer where he held a number of senior managerial roles.  

Niall chairs the Museum’s Environmental and Sustainability Committee.