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General News23rd May 2024

Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust welcomes three notable figures to Board of Trustees

40th Anniversary of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust

We are pleased to announce three new appointments to our Board of Trustees. Dame Diane Lees CBE, Cllr Harinder Mahil, and Tony Jones will officially take up their posts at the Trust’s next Board meeting on 23 May 2024.

Dame Diane Lees CBE was the first female Director-General of the Imperial War Museums (IWM). As a specialist in war and conflict, Diane Lees joined IWM in 2008 and over the course of her fourteen-year leadership led IWM through one of the most transformative periods in its history, redeveloping its branches through more than £90 million of fundraising and investment. She opened IWM London’s groundbreaking First World War Galleries in 2014, led the redevelopment of IWM Duxford’s American Air Museum in 2016 and IWM London’s award-winning Second World War and The Holocaust Galleries in 2021. She stepped down from her role at IWM in March 2023. In her earlier career Diane was involved in the recovery and display of the Mary Rose at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and the display of the Nelson Galleries at the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

Diane Lees was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours in January 2015 and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in January 2022 for services to museums.

Dame Diane Lees said: “I have long admired the entrepreneurial ways in which the Trust and its staff has ensured the preservation and sustainable use of such important buildings, ships, boats and collections. I am really excited to become part of its future success.”

Harinder Mahil is Medway Council’s cabinet Portfolio holder for Heritage, Culture and Leisure and Councillor for Fort Pitt ward. Born and raised in Chatham, Harinder is proud to be a part of such a vital community and heritage asset in Medway. His background was in campaigns and data & targeting for a UK political party HQ and he has recently opened a restaurant in Chatham. Harinder also supports Creative Medway, Rochester City Centre Forum, Medway Tourism Association, Art for Life Project and Tourism South East.

Cllr Harinder Mahil, Medway Council, said: “It is an honour and a privilege to be joining Chatham Historic Dockyard’s Board of Trustees. This year marks the 40th anniversary since the creation of the Trust, but The Dockyard is steeped in more than 400 years of heritage and history. It is undeniably one of the jewels in Medway’s crown, and I look forward to working with my fellow Trustees to ensure its story is continued to be told to residents and visitors to Medway for many years to come.”

Tony Jones has had a successful career as a senior executive in Finance, holding prominent positions such as Group Finance and Operations Director at Camelot Group PLC, where he managed the business operations of the £5 billion revenue National Lottery operator and critical relationships with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; Chief Operating Officer at Stead and Simpson Holdings; and Group Finance Director at Wyevale Garden. Tony is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and an alumnus of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Tony also has significant expertise in the education sector, having most recently served as Vice Chair on the board of Loughborough Schools Foundation and as Chair of the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee. In these roles, he provided strategic oversight and guidance, driving the development and growth of four independent fee-paying schools in a highly competitive environment.

Tony Jones said: I am delighted to be joining the Board of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust which has successfully developed into a major Kent attraction and commercial hub in recent years. The passion of its staff are clear for all to see and I look forward to assisting in the next stage of the Dockyard’s development.”

The new Trustees will replace longstanding members Sir Ian Andrews CBE TD, Cllr Rodney Chambers and Pommy Sarwal MBE who have help lead the award-winning charity through significant developments. 

Sir Trevor Soar KCB OBE DL, Chair of the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, said: “I am pleased to welcome three such distinguished Trustees to our Board. Their exceptional achievements in their respective fields are remarkable, and I look forward to collaborating with them to leverage their expertise for the Trust’s benefit.

I must also pay tribute to our outgoing Trustees, Sir Ian Andrews, Cllr Rodney Chambers and Pommy Sarwal. Their exceptional service and sage guidance has steered the Trust through challenging times and helped us achieve an enviable position of financial independence in this, our 40th anniversary year.”

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