Hilary Ellis (member Finance, Property & Staffing and Search & Development Committees – Trustee responsible for H&S)

During more than 25 years working in global organisations, Hilary held senior HR roles across a range of industries, helping executives to navigate change, identify talent and develop future leaders.  In 2006 she was awarded an MSc in Organisational Behaviour from Birkbeck College, University of London. After living and working in France for 16 years, Hilary returned to the UK in 2013 to live in Hove and now draws on her experience to coach women seeking professional fulfilment and break-through career change. She is an active member of the Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce.

Throughout her career she has worked extensively on helping other women to progress further. She served as VP Executive Education and then Board President of the Professional Women’s Network, a not-for-profit association in Paris and is now a volunteer mentor with The Girl’s Network in Brighton & Hove.

Hilary was appointed a Trustee of the Friends Centre in January 2016, and is a member of the Finance Committee.


Ann Foster (Chair of the Search & Development Committee)

Ann Foster works as a school governance adviser and trainer for the London Diocesan Board for Schools and has had similar roles in Westminster, Brighton & Hove and East Sussex. Prior to this she worked as an organiser and teacher in adult and further education.

Anne is also a governor of a special schools’ federation and was appointed a Trustee from May 2014. She leads for the Friends Centre’s Trustees on the development of the Board of Trustees.


Sean Hanan (member Quality Improvement Committee)

Sean Hanan was invited to become a Trustee in 2014. He took a year’s sabbatical in 2015 to sail around the world and was asked to rejoin the Board in 2016. He worked for Ofsted as an HMI (Her Majesty’s Inspector) for ten years until 2013, inspecting schools and colleges. He was also responsible for setting up and managing the production of good practice case studies that have been published by Ofsted since 2011. Prior to that, he worked in a school and a number of colleges in teaching, management and senior management roles.

He is currently self-employed helping schools and colleges to improve and in particular, to use lesson observations to improve teaching and learning, and to interpret and use performance data effectively. As an experienced trainer, he also designs and delivers professional development sessions for managers, governors and staff.


Richard Hopkins (Chair of Board)

Richard was invited to become a Trustee and member of the Board of the Friends Centre with a view to assisting with financial decisions, management and governance and is the Chair of the Friends Centre’s Finance, Staffing & Property Committee. Richard is a chartered accountant and spent 26 years as a partner in Mazars LLP – an international practice – where he was an audit partner and undertook corporate finance and forensic assignments. The practice had many charities – and educational establishments – as its clients.

Richard has also served as a member of the Corporation of City College, Brighton and Hove including stints as its Vice Chair and Chair of its Finance Committee and has also been Co Chair of the Friends Centre’s Board. He has also held appointments with Sussex Alcohol Advice Service, Sussex Rugby Football Union and Hove RFC.


Alan Jenkins (Chair of Quality Improvement Committee and member Finance, Property & Staffing Committee)

Alan Jenkins has been a Trustee and Board member for 15 years including spells as Vice Chair and Co Chair of the Friends Centre’s Board of Trustees.  He continues in his role as Chair of the Quality Improvement Group.  Formerly Principal of Varndean College (1988-2006), Alan then worked as an education consultant with a particular focus on 16-19 ‘value added’ as a tool for quality improvement in schools and colleges.  He is now fully retired.

A former chairman of Haywards Heath RFC Alan is a committee member of the Sussex Wooden Spoon charity supporting projects in schools and other organisations working with children and young people disadvantaged by their learning difficulties and disabilities.


Juliet McCaffery (member Quality Improvement Committee– Trustee responsible for Equality & Diversity; and  Search & Development Committee)

Juliet worked in literacy and adult education for over 30 years, 15 of these at Friends Centre, then East Sussex and Lambeth. She was the first gender and development officer at the British Council. On leaving she started ‘Consultancy and Training Services’ (CTS) and has worked in Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan and Yemen, Sub-Saharan Africa including Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Botswana and also in the Indian sub-continent.  She has a number of publications on aspects of literacy. She is secretary of the British Association for Literacy in Development (BALID)

She was a Labour Councillor in Brighton and Hove for 16 years. She is a school governor. In 2012 she gained a PhD from Sussex University for research on literacy among Gypsies and Travellers. She is the secretary Sussex Gypsies and Travellers community association and has connections with the Carers Association, the Trust for Developing Communties, Rise and the city’s Black and Minority Ethnic Community Partnership, the Pensioners’ Forum in Brighton and Hove and the national organisation: Research and Practice in Adult Literacy. Juliet is married and has five children and eight grandchildren.


Dr Linda Morrice (Vice Chair of the Quality Improvement Committee)

Linda is a Senior lecturer in Education at the University of Sussex. Prior to entering the University she worked in adult and community education for 20 years; during this time she worked in a range of capacities for organisations including the Workers’ Education Association (WEA), the Open University and Morley College in London. She has published widely in the field of adult education and has particular expertise in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), migrant education and provision for disadvantaged groups.

Linda has well developed professional links with the City Council’s Migrant and Refugee Forum, with resettled refugee communities and the voluntary sector organisations supporting them.


Michael Nix (Chair of the Finance, Staffing & Property Committee – awaiting approval)

Michael’s career has been entirely in education and includes secondary school teaching (German and French); a range of roles for East Sussex County Council and Brighton & Hove City Council – including leadership on organisation planning – and five years with Learning & Skills Council Sussex where from 2007 – 2010 he was the Partnership Director for Brighton & Hove.  During his career Michael has had a particular focus on school and college funding and on the planning of education provision and capital investment.  Michael’s interest in the Friends Centre began at LSC Sussex where he worked closely with colleagues on the plan to move to Brighton Junction.  This interest continued throughout his time with the city council where among other things he had strategic responsibility for the council’s role in adult and community learning and the Adult Learning Group.

Michael retired from the city council in 2015 and is pleased to be able to continue to support the Friends Centre through being a Trustee.


Judith Parkes (member Quality Improvement Committee – Trustee responsible for Safeguarding)

Judith has a first degree in Business and a Masters in Marketing and after spending many years in the retail industry, moved into education. She taught Business Studies in Further Education and soon started to play an active role in the marketing of the College.

She spent 10 years at City College Brighton and Hove as the Marketing Director with responsibility for both home and international markets. During her time at the college she was also President of the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce and developed links with local businesses and other institutions.

Judith enjoys her involvement with the Friends Centre as a Trustee and as a student.


Daniel Shelley (member of Finance, Property & Staffing Committee)

Dan worked in the regeneration and education sectors in Brighton & Hove City Council and led the city’s Learning Partnership. This included the writing and development of a variety of citywide strategies including Skills for Life, 14-19 and Apprenticeships.

Dan then became the Head of Partnerships and Projects for City College Brighton and led the development of programmes for the unemployed and work linked to training for adults who were unemployed or needed to improve their basic skills. He helped set up the citywide Apprenticeship Training Agency and GFE South, a not-for-profit company  owned by 23 GFE Colleges across the South East, set up to bid for regional contracts.

Since August 2012 Dan has been the Vice Principal (Enterprise, Employment and Skills) at Sussex Coast College Hastings leading the colleges work on Apprenticeships, HE, Marketing, International, student services, Project work and Business Development.


Helen Walker Clerk to the Board

Dr Helen Walker is an independent strategic planning consultant with experience of managing regeneration, heritage and urban design projects.   Previously she worked in two central government departments, for several local authorities, the Environment Agency and Commission for the Built Environment.  A former chair of a university department, she now lectures at the University of Brighton on post graduate built environment programmes with a focus on the local economy, urban planning and design. Helen is appointed as a CABE-Design Council Built Environment Expert, a Building for Life Accredited Assessor and a member of the Civic Trust Awards National Panel.  She is Vice Chair of Brighton and Hove Regency Society, a Director of Brighton Hippodrome CIC and a Trustee of Brighton Early Music Festival, Fabrica and QueenSpark Books.  A former Friends Centre and WEA lecturer, Helen was appointed as Clerk to the Trustees in January 2017.


Helen Osborne (Principal)

(member of Quality Improvement Committee; Finance, Staffing & Property Committee; and Search & Development Committee)

Helen has worked in different forms of post-16 education since graduating from Bath Spa University and Hogeschool Rotterdam en Omstreken with a BA (Hons) in English and International Education with Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

She spent four years in Japan after graduating, teaching conversational English to adults. For two of these years she also trained new employees in the company’s own teaching methods.

On returning to the UK she was employed in the third sector by an organisation delivering the Prince’s Trust Team Programme, a 12 week self-development course for 16-25 year olds, supporting participants with their literacy, numeracy and employability skills. Within two years she was appointed Deputy Programme Manager for five teams across Sussex and two Connexions Personal Advisers. In 2009 she joined Friends Centre as their General Adult Education Coordinator line managing up to 40 sessional tutors, planning programmes of delivery, moving on to develop a curriculum strategy for the organisation. She was appointed Principal/CEO in 2014, and in 2015 started managing Brighton & Hove City Council’s Community Learning Team in partnership with the local authority and to former closer working links between the two sets of provision.

While working for Friends Centre she has also been Chair of Operations Team for Community Learning, a sub group of B&H ALG (Brighton and Hove Adult Learning Group) for two years and in this role coordinated and wrote the ALG’s response to New Chances, New Challenges. She worked with the previous Principal on the Brighton & Hove Community Learning Trust pilot, which FC was the lead partner of in 2012-13. In June 2015, she became Chair of B&H ALG leading their strategic development, and sits on Brighton & Hove Learning, Skills and Employment Partnership as a learning rep for both the ALG and Community Works. As part of this role she has also been involved in current workshops for the development of the City Employment Skills Plan. In March 2017, she was elected as Chair of the B&H Learning & Skills Partnership. As part of the management of B&H City Council’s Community Learning Team, she was invited to be a part of the National Family Learning Forum.

Helen is also a volunteer for Girlguiding and has taken on roles within the organisation as Girlguiding London & South East England’s Lead Volunteer on Branding from 2012-2015; been involved in national initiatives around toolkits for advisers and membership communications; Girlguiding Sussex East’s Assistant County Commissioner from 2010-2015; and Girlguiding Sussex East’s Chair of Marketing & Communications Committee from 2010 to present, as well as volunteering with her local Guide Unit.


Rasanthi Pathirana (Finance Manager)

(member of Finance, Staffing & Property Committee)

Rasanthi has been Finance Manager for Friends Centre for the past 16 years, with a break of one year to work as Finance Manager for Mind Brighton & Hove. She is a member of the Senior Management team and attends board meetings and a reporting officer for Finance, Human Resources & Property Committee (FHRPC). She is currently responsible for producing and maintaining budgets, forecasts and cash flows; producing management accounts and contract monitoring reports for the FHRPC and the Board; prepare statutory financial accounts for our external auditors; maintain and update financial policies, procedures and systems as appropriate; liaison with state and grant funding bodies.

She is also responsible for data within the organisation and ensuring data reports are returned accurately and on time.

As Finance Manager she was responsible for financial returns for ESF projects that Friends Centre was involved with previously.

Prior to working for Friends Centre and Mind, she worked in the private and statutory sectors as a Finance Officer for more than 13 years.


EJ Birtwell (Centre Manager & Safeguarding and Prevent Officer)

(member of Quality Improvement Committee; Finance, Staffing & Property Committee)

EJ (Emily-Jane) has been Centre Manager for Friends Centre for the past 8 years. She is a member of the senior management team and attends board meetings. She is currently responsible for customer service and line manages frontline staff, data protection, equality and diversity, facilities management, health and safety, recruitment and safeguarding. She also represents Friends Centre on the board of the One Brighton Management Company and the One Brighton CIC. Prior to this she worked in operations management within the Arts for 8 years.


Alison Kroon (Lead Tutor for English, ESOL and Maths)

(member of Quality Improvement Committee)

After several years of meeting and supporting migrants who were visiting her church, Alison retrained as an ESOL tutor in 2003 and quickly moved from volunteering with the Workers’ Education Association (WEA) to a position with Sussex Downs College in Lewes, Newhaven and Eastbourne, teaching ESOL, ESOL/IT and ESOL Maths, whilst still raising a family.

She joined Friends Centre in 2011 as a tutor, being promoted to Lead Tutor for ESOL in 2012, and then Lead Tutor for ESOL, English and Maths in 2015.  Alison has made useful connections with other local providers, and sits on the Forum for English, Maths and ESOL (FEME) and the Refugee and Migrant Forum (RMF) in the city.

Alison also continues to work voluntarily; she established and co-ordinates a drop-in for asylum seekers, refugees and migrants who are not yet eligible for mainstream education, or who want extra tuition to support their learning.  She has also helped establish an Internet Café and Literacy Project in Zambia to help disadvantaged children and adults and help create an income.


Julia Hincks (Lead Tutor for General Adult Education)

(member of Quality Improvement Committee)

Julia has worked at Friends Centre since 2009 when she joined the team as a sessional tutor.   In 2012, she was given the position of Lead Tutor for General Adult Education with responsibility for developing the curriculum and managing up to 40 tutors.

Julia has a degree in Business and Management Studies and began her career in education in 2002 after completing a PGCE in Key Stage 2/3 Mathematics at Cambridge University.  She worked initially as a primary classroom teacher before being promoted to Maths Leader with responsibility for Gifted and Talented pupils.  Julia has worked in a number of schools across East and West Sussex, teaching a broad spectrum of ages, most recently working as a mathematics tutor for Year 10 and 11 pupils at Priory School in Lewes.

In 2008 Julia completed a Foundation Diploma in Art & Design at City College, Brighton, and soon after this began teaching adults at City College’s Connaught Centre in Hove.  Julia also makes and alters clothes for clients across the city.

Julia is the author of ‘The Overlocker Technique Manual’ and ‘The Serger’s Technique Bible’ (the US version) which were both published in 2013.  The book is also available in French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch.  Further details about Julia and her current projects can be found at www.juliahincks.com

Share this page: