Board of trustees


The first AGM of Social Firms UK was held on 7th September 2000.  Read the minutes of the latest AGM (1 July 2010) here.  Further board meetings are to be held on:

  • Wednesday 22 September 2010 (London)
  • Wednesday 1 December 2010 (Social Firms UK office)

Board composition

  • not less than one and not more than three persons who are employed by member Social Firms and who are elected by the membership at the Annual General Meeting;
  • four representatives of national organisations supporting Social Firms; one of whom shall be appointed by Social Firms Scotland (Company number SC206712); one appointed by Social Firms Wales (Company number 05569450); one appointed by a Social Firm support organisation in Northern Ireland (such organisation to be selected by the Board of Directors of Social Firms UK at their absolute discretion) and one appointed by a Social Firm support organisation in England (to be selected by the Board of Directors of Social Firms UK at their absolute discretion);
  • not less than three and not more than six persons elected individually at the Annual General Meeting, who are individual members of the company or persons nominated by organisations which are members of the company;
  • up to three persons co-opted by the Board of Directors to serve as full voting Directors.

The Board of Directors may also co-opt Directors to fill any vacancy unfilled by the members at an Annual General Meeting.

This board composition was passed by special resolution in July 2010.

We have terms of reference for our trustees and our chair. New board members receive a trustee induction pack and are signposted to good sources of information on governance and trustee support such as

The current board of trustees is as follows:

Simon Hebditch, Chair

Simon was formerly CEO of CapacityBuilders, a non-departmental public body set up in 2006 to manage the ChangeUp Programme and to work with other funders to build the capacity of the Third Sector.

Pauline Graham, Social Firms Scotland

Pauline is Chief Executive of Social Firms Scotland, the national support body for the promotion of Social Firms in Scotland.  Previously she managed the EU EQUAL Social Economy programme in Scotland.  Pauline leads on policy and communications and has particular expertise in procurement and community benefits. She also manages a pioneering Business Aquisition Project as a route to growing the number of Social Firms in Scotland.

San Leonard, Social Firms Wales

San is Director of Social Firms Wales, the national support body for the promotion of Social Firms in Wales.  She is passionate about working at the heart of community regeneration to develop opportunities that bring about sustainable social change.  Working within family businesses from a very early age, she has successfully grown several business enterprises.  Now, with more than 30 years in management and business development within the private sector, she uses that experience whilst working to support the growth of commerically viable social businesses that offer paid employment and career advancement in a mixed ability, supportive business environment.

With considerable first-hand knowledge of working with people with disabilities, San is well placed and understands fully the need to develop work and training opportunities for people who are often furthest from the labour market.

Sarah Crawley, I'SE

Sarah is CEO of iSE, a Social Firm, social enterprise and third sector development organisation.  As an initial founder of iSE, Sarah has worked to develop the organisation and has driven agendas that include preparation for procurement, clustering, social audit and equalitiies work across the third sector.  iSE has developed both a Professional Development Centre for Social Enterprise and a Social Enterprise Development Hub, both of which actively support Social Firm development.  iSE holds a Star Social Firm quality standard and is very proud to be one of the first five in the country.

Michele Rigby, SEEE

Michele Rigby is CEO of Social Enterprise East of England (SEEE).  SEEE is a membership and networking organization for social enterprises and others.  We also have a strategic influence on national, regional and local policy relating to social enterprise.

Sally Reynolds, Company Secretary

Sally helped set up Social Firms UK in 1996.  Read her profile on the staff page. Sally is company secretary, but not a trustee.

John Charles, Catering2Order

John is founder and Managing Director of Catering2Order, a highly successful contract catering Social Firm that he set up after he graduated from university and lost his sight due to illness.  John passionately believes that the success of the company is due to its uncompromising stance of quality of service adn ability to adapt to and meet the changing requirements of their clients. The company gained recognition as a finalist in 2008 for the CBI sponsored Growing Business Awards for Social Enterprise of the Year.

Through its commercial activities, Catering2Order is able to self-fund paid work placements to people with disabilities and from disadvantaged social backgrounds partnering with local organisations to create a supportive 'real world' training environment for trainees and helping them gain meaningful employment upon the completion of their placement with Catering2Order.

Geof Cox, Geof Cox Associates

Geof Cox has 30 years social enterprise development experience, and specialises in providing support on legal, financial and organisational change and restructuring issues.  He has worked with new start social enterprises and established organisations, especially around the start or expansion of trading activities by public or voluntary sector bodies.  Geof's current work includes:

  • research and writing of a number of studies of social enterprise - including recent publications on Social Firms;
  • advising Oxfam on how social enterprise can contribute to the anti-poverty programme they are running in Russia;
  • advising Herefordshire County Council on the development of the flagship miEnterprise supported self-employment programme;
  • helping charities restructure to facilitate trading, including 2008 'Charity of the Year', Tyneside Cyrenians.

Geof has worked on a number of NHS externalisations including Hull TPCT Delivery Arm (over 1000 staff) and the South Tyneside Intermediate Musculoskeletal Assessmnet & Treatment Service (which won this year's 'Guy Rotherham Award' from The Improvement Foundation).

Tracy Axten, Triodos Bank

Tracy is a Relationship Manager with Triodos Bank, which lends exclusively to organisations contributing to positive social, environmental and cultural change. She manages relationships with customers - primarily charities and social enterprises providing borrowing facilities, develops and manages partnerships with key sector national membership bodies, Government departments and specialist professionals.

Tracy joined Triodos from RBS Community Banking and brought with her 10 years experience working in the Third Sector, with a specific interest in social enterprise and micro finance.  She is Board Director at the Development Trusts Association.

Paul Love, Pluss

Paul Love is Finance Director and Board Member of Social Firm Pluss.

Paul commenced his career with the Audit Commission in 1990, where he rose to the position of Audit Manager with a portfolio of clients including Unitary Authorities and health organizations. In 1998, he became the first Director of Resources at West Devon Homes, and helped establish this new company as a Registered Social Landlord. Paul joined Pluss in September 2005 from Tor Homes (part of the William Sutton Group), where he worked for 3 years as Financial Operations Manager.

Paul qualified as an Accountant in 1993 and, in addition, holds a BSc in Economics from the University of Bath.

Paul Nicholson

Paul is a chartered accountant with a degree in Accounting and Finance and has a keen interest in the strategic development of businesses. He is Finance Director at Martins Properties.

Paul joined Martins Properties in January 2011 from the O&H Group where he had worked for the past 12 years, most recently holding the joint post of Finance & Managing Director. He has a background in a broad range of business sectors having previously worked for 10 years at Hanson Plc.

Paul is married and lives near Lewes in East Sussex where he has restored a water mill which is now producing flour and he is a member of the Real Bread Campaign. His other interests include wildlife and landscape photography, walking with his two dogs, music of all types but particularly classical and opera and he in heavily engaged with local community issues. He is a governor of his local primary school.