Our staff, volunteers and trustees are an amazing bunch of dedicated people who all play a vital role in making Orpheus the unique place that it is.
Through the commitment, enthusiasm and dedication of every person who works at Orpheus we have been able to transform the lives of hundreds of young disabled adults and their families over the past fifteen years.
Sir Richard Stilgoe
Founder and Trustee
Richard Stilgoe’s 50-year career in show business spanned radio, television, cabaret and theatre and lead him to many egregious people and places. It gained him a diverse collection of fortuitous and deserved honours. In 1997 he founded the Orpheus Centre and remains a trustee.
Chair of Trustees
John Beer has been on the Board for 6 years and Chair since 2015. Formerly Director of Social Services in Southampton and before that Head of Children’s Services in Surrey. He was Secretary of ADASS and has a very wide experience of local and national care and health issues. He is married with four grown up children and lives in Surrey.
Vice Chair of Trustees
Dr Helen Swain is the Vice-chair of the Board of Orpheus trustees, having been a trustee for 14 years. She has experience in various posts in Higher Education, culminating as Dean of Music, Media and ITC for Thames Valley University. Subsequently she concentrated on employment and career advice, being involved with a large redundancy project and sustainable employment for the long term unemployed.
Russell Barrow first encountered the Orpheus Centre in 2002 as a volunteer on a Rockshop with Herbie Flowers. Bitten by the Orpheus bug, he volunteered as an assistant tutor over the next few years before leading the Acoustic Rock Week course in 2006. He joined the Board of Trustees in 2008 and is now chair of the Development Committee. In his day job he is an IT Director for SABMiller after having spent most of his career with P&G and GSK.
Tony Elias trained as a Chartered Accountant with Coopers & Lybrand (subsequently Price Waterhouse Coopers) in London. After holding senior positions with Coopers & Lybrand and in the construction industry, he set up his own accounting practice. Tony looks after private small and medium sized clients offering accounting and taxation services. He has been a Trustee of Orpheus since inception and keeps a particular eye on its finances and investments. Tony is also a local District Councillor.
Richard Groom has had a variety of Chief Executive appointments and has chaired a variety of Boards. He has just stood down as Chairman of The Orpheus Centre Trust. The Centre was in severe financial difficulties when he took over with a disproportionately high overdraft being threatened by its bankers who were going to withdraw support. That position has been reversed during his stewardship having a cash surplus on his retirement of circa £1m. Richard is also a Trustee of Care South and a non Executive Director of Vectis Property Group.
Joe Stilgoe is a singer, pianist and songwriter. He has appeared at venues all around the world, including The Queen Elizabeth Hall, The Barbican and The Royal Albert Hall. He has appeared as a featured soloist with orchestras including BBC Concert Orchestra, John Wilson Orchestra and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. He has recently recorded his 5th album, 2 of which have topped the UK jazz charts. He has also appeared a number of times on television, most notably in Never Mind The Buzzcocks.
Matthew is a solicitor, having been in private practice with TWM Solicitors LLP for 25 years, initially as a generalist, then commercial property specialist, and latterly serving as the firm’s Managing Partner. His notable deals include the £200m+ site assembly and mixed use development of premises in London’s West End, and the £150m disposal of a residential development site to a major house builder. He is the former Honorary Secretary and Head of Property Section of the Surrey Law Society, and a Member of the Surrey Law Club. Matthew sits on the main Board of Trustees at Orpheus, with a special responsibility for property matters, and also on our Development Committee.
Neil White is a retired city solicitor with 30 years’ experience in construction and property development. He also spent 4 years as General Counsel of a top-20 law firm responsible for governance, client relations, regulation, compliance, risk and commercial contracts. As a result, he is particularly interested in Orpheus’ plans for improving and expanding its facilities and in helping Orpheus meet the many standards that govern it. Neil is also trustee of Haig Housing and the Sheppard Trust.
We have a fantastic group of volunteers without whom the Orpheus Centre would cease to function. If you would like to volunteer for Orpheus, please call us on 01883 744664.
Ann’s story: Thirteen years ago, I knew nothing of Orpheus. Then one day, in 2001, I was asked if I would direct Orpheus students in their Christmas show. Their usual director was unable to do it and my name was given as someone who could help. From the moment I arrived and was taken into the Barn to meet everyone I was hooked. There were only about 13 apprentices then. I thought the show would just be a one-off but to my delight, a few weeks later, I was approached to see if I would take on another project.
For the next few years, I continued directing end of term shows as well as running weekly drama sessions. Then as Orpheus grew and developed, I began to step back from drama and have taken on different roles. For the last three years I have been working with Jenny Musselle on her script-writing. She has been an inspiration to me and I count it as a privilege to help her develop her creative talents.
Finally, my latest role is fundraising. I give talks to local groups, sharing my enthusiasm for Orpheus and raising awareness (and money!) for the place that has been so much a part of my life for so many years.