Trustees and management

Senior executive staff

 The team consists of senior executive staff from across the Trust’s activities and subsidiary trading companies.

Alan Boldon, Interim Managing Director

Alan Boldon has spent the last twenty years working on interdisciplinary projects as an artist, curator and project manager. For twelve years, he directed an international arts summer school devoted to exploring interdisciplinary engagement with place. He has an MA in Psychological Aesthetics and has taught fine art, socially contextualised arts practices, public art and psychological aesthetics at BA and MA level for the past ten years as well as lecturing throughout Europe, the USA and Canada.

tim allen
Tim Allen, Director of Finance

Following completion of a mathematics degree at Birmingham University, Tim Allen qualified as an accountant at Brighton-based professional services firm Moores Rowland in 1993. He soon decided to ‘hop over the fence’ and work in industry, where he gained experience across the retail, technology, distribution and late night leisure sectors.

Fast forward to 2005: he escaped the south east to join Orthogon Systems, a global provider of point to point broadband wireless systems based in Devon – as financial director. There he oversaw the company’s sale to Motorola Solutions where he worked until 2011. Later that year Tim was part of the management team that divested the original Orthogon business, together with other wireless broadband assets out from Motorola, creating a new, independent company called Cambium Networks. A global tech company specialising in wireless broadband, Tim describes Cambium as ‘one of the best kept secrets in south Devon’, investing in a highly skilled engineering workforce within the south Devon economy.

However, a move to the US in 2015 wasn’t for him and he instead joined Exeter-based, AIM-listed procurement company Blur Group plc as he became chief financial officer for two years, enabling access to creative, IT, legal and accounting service providers via a cloud based marketplace.

Living in the local area, Tim and his wife Zoë have been regular visitors to the Dartington estate and he is excited by the vision for the future of the Trust and honoured to be part of the team.

Destination graphic
Urszula Kossakowska, Director of Cultural Engagement

Urszula joined Dartington in spring 2018 with the remit of overseeing the transformation of Dartington as a destination. Urszula has a background overseeing change processes at arts and events organisations, including at The School of Life where she oversaw the overseas expansion of the brand. Her most recent role was as managing director at Guerrilla Science, an organisation creating interactive science installations and events for festivals and museums. Previous roles have included change management at the Southbank Centre, the Camden Arts Centre and the Whitechapel Gallery.

Vikki Matthews
Vikki Matthews, Head of People & HR

I have been in HR roles for more years than I care to remember (or admit) but during those many years I’ve gained some useful experience in senior management and executive level roles – experience which I hope will help us in our work here at Dartington. I’ve worked nationally and internationally in both private and public sector organisations. My last ‘proper’ job was for the University of Plymouth. I was their chief talent officer and sat on the Uni’s executive and worked with the Board. I’m still connected with the university as I lecture on some of the HR and business related courses and I help to run the residential programmes for their Healthcare MBA students.

Prior to this, I worked for Nike for many years in various European and global director-level roles, based out Holland and the USA. I did lots of fun HR stuff there, some not-so-fun stuff and I learnt to run too (not bad for a then-smoking asthmatic!).

Before joining the Dartington Trust as the HR director on a 0.5 FTE basis, I was running my coaching and consultancy business – Matthews & More. I sit on the Torbay & South Devon NHS Foundation Trust Board and am the company secretary for a small education charity based in Brighton.

I’m passionate about the people agenda and have absolute belief in the power of human potential. I’m also fascinated by the enormous impact that organisational culture and good leadership can have on employee wellbeing and performance. I’m a qualified executive coach and a fellow of the CIPD and I have a whole load of qualifications in subjects that aren’t in the least bit relevant to what I’m doing now!

I play the guitar (badly), I sing (not quite as badly) and I’m learning the piano. Tracey Thorn and Tony Benn are my heroes. I am good at partying, I love to read and I’m rubbish at mending things or being practical (to my shame).

Mark Taylor
Mark Taylor, Director of Ecology

I have been a Chartered management accountant for 35 years. I undertook a finance apprenticeship with British Rail for four years, before working for Eastman Kodak in their newspaper IT division. In 1991 I moved on from this role and spent ten years working with various IT recruitment companies as FD or MD, with plenty of hectic mergers and acquisitions along the way.

From 2000 to 2006 I left the rat race and sailed and raced professionally around the world. Time spent alone mid-Atlantic on a 50-foot yacht, or skippering a 68-foot yacht racing across the Southern Ocean, gave me a passion for the sea and nature – and a growing awareness of our responsibility to our planet and future generations.

I returned to health care recruitment for three years before joining Dartington in October 2009 as business development director for Research in Practice. Having worked in different roles across Dartington – most recently with the teams at Schumacher College, Finance and Property – I’m closely familiar with most areas of Dartington.

Outside work I’m very active in my local community, being a coxswain of the Hope Cove Life Boat, a commissioner of Hope Cove Harbour, a parish councillor for South Huish, and a co-opted member of Salcombe Harbour Board. I am also a Liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Drapers and a Freeman of the City of London.

Board of Trustees

The Dartington Hall Trust is governed by a Board of Trustees. Members of the Board have two roles: first as directors of the company in company law and secondly as trustees of the charity. It is a non-executive Board and members are unpaid.


Our governance

The Board of Trustees, acting in a voluntary capacity, has legal responsibility for the effective use of resources in meeting the Trust’s purpose; deciding policy; and for providing leadership and direction. They meet formally at least four times a year (involving the CEO, management team and other staff/advisors as appropriate) here at Dartington. The Board of Trustees has an Audit and Risk Management Committee which meets at least five times a year and reports directly to the Board. This Committee advises the Board on matters of risk (from a strategic perspective) and oversight of the audit.

Recruiting trustees

We recognise the importance of attracting and recruiting the best trustees to enable us to fulfil our aims. Trustee recruitment follows an open process and is based on the skills, experience and diversity required for the Board of Trustees to fulfil its purpose. This assessment is based on an annual skills audit of trustees against the needs of the Trust. Recruitment of new trustees is led by the Nominations Committee (a sub-committee of the Board). Trustees usually serve up to 3 terms of 3 years (maximum of 9 years). There are regular opportunities to apply for the role of trustee as natural membership rotation occurs. Please keep an eye on our website and social media or sign up to our weekly news and events e-bulletin to learn about when these opportunities arise.

Annual reporting

The Dartington Hall Trust is independently audited annually. The latest financial statements and directors reports are available to download. If you require any further information relating to our governance, please contact our Company Secretary at

Dr Greg Parston (Chair)

Greg is currently the senior adviser at the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London. He is a chair of the Collaborate Foundation and in 1988, he co-founded the Office for Public Management (OPM), which he led until 2006, when he was asked to establish and lead Accenture’s global Institute for Public Service Value, which he did until 2012. As an independent consultant, Greg has advised leaders on governance, strategy and change, including at the NHS, the British Museum, the BBC, the Wellcome Trust, the Metropolitan Police, and the Gates Foundation. ‘Dartington Hall has a rich history of progressive thinking, culture, learning and enterprise. I am honoured to have asked by the Board of Trustees to chair the stewardship and oversight of the The Dartington Hall Trust’s redevelopment. The Trustees and the management team are absolutely committed to revitalising the Trust, creating – once again – a place where people from Devon, from Britain and indeed from around the world can gather to learn about the excitement and values of a many-sided life. We want to provide a sustainable environment and a range of activities in learning and living that can foster personal and social changes that make a real difference.’

Emma Gladstone
Emma Gladstone

Emma brings a wealth of experience to Dartington.  In her current role as artistic director and chief executive of the international dance festival, Dance Umbrella, Emma has focused on broadening definitions of choreography and taking performing arts out to places where people live and work. Recent festivals have featured ice skaters, flamenco artists, hip hop and digital work, with participatory projects, online talks and development programmes such as Producer Farm in Devon running through the year.

Previously Emma was artistic programmer at Sadler’s Wells (2005-13), where she established the Research Programme and strands such as Family Weekend and the artist-curated Wild Card, which continue to this day.  She has worked extensively with the British Council, Southbank Centre, The Place and the Rolex Mentor Protégé programme. Previously Emma danced for many years with Arlene Phillips, Lea Anderson’s The Cholmondeleys, and co-founded Adventures in Motion Pictures with Sir Matthew Bourne.

Emma regularly works as a mentor and advisor, most recently in India, China and Chile and has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship from Trinity Laban and a Tonic Award recognising outstanding women in the arts. In addition to Dartington Hall, Emma is a trustee of the arts and health charity Aesop, and Chair of Siobhan Davies Dance.

Tim Jones

Appointed as a Trustee in December 2014, Tim Jones is a successful local businessman who has supported Dartington for many years, particularly as chair of the Trust’s property advisory committee. He volunteers his time to many other organisations in the South West, including the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (as a board member, following 3 years as Chairman) and Devon & Cornwall Business Council (as Chairman), and has a particular interest in criminal justice and creating routes into jobs for people who are long-term unemployed.He plays a leading role in many business development organisations and brings a wide network of government, enterprise and charitable contacts to Dartington.

Sylvie Pierce

Appointed as a Trustee in December 2014, Sylvie Pierce had a successful career in local government, leading two large local authorities. She has a great interest in education and the arts. Post-government, Sylvie moved into the private sector, leading a property development company working with communities in economically deprived areas in a collaborative way to achieve high quality regeneration schemes.Sylvie will strengthen the board’s expertise in developing creative partnerships with like-minded organisations and with its communities to make the best use of its land and property for the future. Sylvie is currently chair of the Mossbourne Federation of Schools, four schools in Hackney; and chair of governors at Mossbourne Community Academy, a school started by Sir Clive Bourne, to demonstrate his passionate belief in the ability of Hackney children. She has also been on a number of boards previously, including the Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme and Shoreditch Trust.

Rob Sexton

Appointed a Trustee in January 2011, Rob has been finance director at Yeo Valley since November 2014. Yeo Valley is one of the south west’s leading employers and is the UK’s largest organic brand. Prior to this Rob was CEO of the Soil Association Certification Ltd, the trading arm of the Soil Association, the UK’s leading charity campaigning for sustainable food and farming. He has significant experience across a wide range of sectors including the third sector, entrepreneurial enterprises and corporations.

Geetie Singh-Watson

‘I grew up on a commune in the Midlands, where I was taught from an early age to be aware of the impact we each make on the world around us. Fast forward to 1998 and I opened The Duke of Cambridge – the UK’s first organic gastropub, never dreaming of the awards it would shower along the way. I’m an active campaigner and firmly believe that businesses and individuals should act responsibly and be led by their values. It won’t come as a surprise to hear I’ve been a trustee of the Soil AssociationPeople Tree FoundationLondon Remade and Women’s Enterprise Council to name but a few. As for Dartington, I’ve known of the Trust for years due to a family history on the arts side of things, but it wasn’t until I’d actually visited that the place truly grabbed my interest. I’m attracted to the alternative vibe and just adore the beauty of the estate. Even so, I see so much potential still to be realised and I want to be a part of it. New people have come in. Change is happening. You can see it. You can feel it. Now’s the right time to switch up the volume. I want it to be the fabulous, flourishing destination it aspires to be with a many-sided approach to life that can benefit everyone.’

Nigel Topping

‘So close and yet so far. Having studied at Schumacher College, and lived in Totnes for 10 years, I am deeply convinced of the power of The Dartington Hall Trust to act as an agent for real change in the world, and of the gulf that sometimes separates the Trust from the town – the promise from the delivery. As an industrialist turned climate diplomat, my whole life has been about improving systems, about embedding new ways of doing things into complex realities to effect positive change – whether making better brake pads (as a co-owner of TMD Friction) or tackling global climate change (currently as the CEO of We Mean Business, a global coalition working with thousands of the world’s largest companies in this field). I am also co-founder of the Totnes Pound and The Atmos Project (to redevelop Totnes’s Dairy Crest site). ‘As an outdoorsman, I need the wind on my face in wild places to reinvigorate my soul. And as a local resident, I love the eclectic mix of thinkers and doers drawn to our special part of the world, in no small part because of the historical influence of the Trust. There has never been a more important time for us to learn how to live and love in harmony with planet and neighbour. So I am thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to a newly humble and confident Trust playing an important role in understanding, sharing and applying the solutions we seek.’

Julia Unwin

Julia Unwin was chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust from 2007 until December 2016. She was a member of the Housing Corporation Board for 10 years and a charity commissioner from 1998-2003. Julia was also deputy chair of the Food Standards Agency and worked as an independent consultant, for 15 years, operating within government and the voluntary and corporate sectors. She has researched and written extensively on issues relating to philanthropy, the voluntary sector, and its relationship with government and has written several books, the most recent of which is entitled “Why Fight Poverty?” which was published in November 2013. She previously held a position as chair of the Refugee Council from 1995 until 1998, and is currently a member of the University of York’s Council, where she is a pro-chancellor and a governor of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.  In 2010 Julia was awarded the Outstanding Leadership Award in the Charity Awards and was awarded a Fellowship of the City and Guilds of London Institute in June 2012. Julia chairs the Institute for Social Renewal advisory board at the University of Newcastle as well as being a member of the Advisory Board for Policy Scotland, at the University of Glasgow. Julia is also on the advisory board of the Centre for Science and Policy at the University of Cambridge. In January 2016 Julia was appointed as an independent non-executive director of Mears Group Plc. She has Honorary Doctorates from the University of South Wales and from York St John University, and in 2016 was made a provincial canonry by the Archbishop of York. Follow Julia on Twitter @juliaunwin

Andrew Ward

For 40 years Andrew worked in Higher Education, most recently as director of corporate relations at Brunel University London, where he built and maintained links with key industrial, intermediary and third sector partners and was the University’s innovation champion. He has served on the boards of more than 50 private, public and third sector organisations. He is passionate about the arts, especially music, and currently chairs NMC Recordings, is associate director of Club Inegales and the Institute of Composing, is on the Advisory Committee of the Music in Secondary Schools Trust and is business adviser to the Watermans Arts Centre. ‘The Dartington Hall Trust’s work has arguably never been more important than it is today. Current political and economic uncertainties far and wide make it essential for there to be places for cool, informed reflection and safe havens for innovation and experimentation. Dartington has a vital role in this respect. ‘The Trust’s exciting and ambitious plans for the future reflect the imagination and sense of purpose necessary to make a substantive impact on life in contemporary Britain. To be able to play a role in shaping and realising these plans is an immense privilege’.

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