York Museums Trust Trustees


James Grierson – YMT Chair

James Grierson is a Chartered Surveyor with more than 35 years’ experience in private practice. After qualifying with Knight Frank in London, James moved to York in the early 1980s to focus on retail-led town centre regeneration schemes across the North. He built and led the UK’s largest specialist public sector real estate advisory practice and has worked on large and complex property-related projects across the central government, local authority, health and education sectors and for international companies. James was an Equity Partner and Board Member of Donaldsons, a 1,000 strong international practice, and, following the sale of the firm in 2007, was Head of Consultancy & Public Sector with DTZ Plc. He now has a portfolio of non executive, consultancy and trustee roles in the commercial, regulatory, government, charitable, heritage and university sectors . James is an habitual art gallery and museum visitor and loves finding endless new treasures in collections he feels he knows well; James became a trustee in 2014 and board Chairman in 2018. He is married to Liz, lives in Copmanthorpe and has four grown up daughters.

Philip Ashton

Philip is a native of Hull who graduated from Oxford University in Modern Languages. His experience as a Chartered Accountant in the Audit and Advisory Practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers included managing client relationships and leading a number of projects relating to working practices and technology. In the 1990s Philip was a founder member of the UK Auditing Practices Board, developing professional standards. In December 2007 he became a non-executive director of York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, chairing the audit committee and becoming the Senior Independent Director. Philip was a founder Governor of the Archbishop Sentamu Academy in Hull, of which he is now a Member, and he is a director of the Diocese of York Education Trust. Philip sits on the Finance and Audit Committees of York Minster and on the York Diocesan Finance Sub-Committee. At the end of his term as a director at York Teaching Hospital Philip was appointed as a Trustee of York Museums Trust in 2017 and chairs its audit committee. He loves experiencing the sights, sounds (and smells!) of Kirkgate in the Castle Museum – including the excited reactions of visiting children.

Dr Angela Dean

Angela Dean spent 25 years in international finance, mainly as a Managing Director with the American investment bank, Morgan Stanley, where she ran global technology research. Angela now has a portfolio of non-executive and trustee roles in the heritage, education and communications sectors. She is a former trustee of the Heritage Lottery Fund and of the Museums Libraries and Archives Council, and a member of the Postal Museum’s Audit and Finance Committee. She chairs International House, one of the largest independent organisations for language teaching and training, and is a member of Council for King’s College London. She is a non-executive board member of Ofcom. Hailing from York, Angela has a degree in Modern History and a doctorate in 17th-century English politics from Oxford University. She remains fascinated by the early modern and medieval periods, and is keen to help increase appreciation of the ways people lived in earlier times. Angela joined the trust in 2017 and chairs its Castle Capital Project board; she loves the carved faces of the 15th century church roof bosses in the Yorkshire Museum, reminders of our vibrant pre-Reformation everyday art.

Professor Dianne Willcocks

Dianne Willcocks is former Vice-Chancellor of York St John University; a professor of social gerontology; and a lifetime advocate for cultural industries and access to the arts. In the university sector in London and Yorkshire, Dianne promoted cultural diversity and regional engagement, creating opportunities for the wider community and helping define the modern university. In the City of York she chaired York Theatre Royal Board for 10 years; she is ViceChair of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and was a board member of the Great Exhibition of the North 2018. Dianne presently chairs the biennial York Mediale Festival – giving visibility to York’s UNESCO designation as City of Media Arts. Dianne’s continuing work in the field of ageing includes being patron for Older Citizens’ Advocacy York, health champion for York Older People’s Assembly, and from February 2019 the chair of the Wilf Ward Family Trust. Dianne travels widely, visiting age-appropriate living environments as well as galleries and museums. Dianne joined the Trust in 2017 and became its Senior Independent Trustee in 2019; she is a devotee of York Art Gallery and its constantly delighting exhibitions.

Miranda Lowe

Miranda is Museum Scientist and Principal Curator at the Natural History Museum where she has worked for 30 years.  She has impressive public engagement as well as curatorial experience and is the founder of the Museum Detox network of BAME museum professionals.  She is the London representative of the Museums Association, has been a very hands-on and enthusiastic fund-raiser and is the NHM Branch Rep for the Prospect Union.

Scott Furlong

Scott has a curatorial/collections background at the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, Royal Museums Greenwich and Chatham Historic Dockyard and most recently as Director, Collections & Cultural Property at Arts Council England.  He has excellent capital projects experience, is an acknowledged collections expert and his 8 years at ACE have given him huge insight into museums and cultural policy and very extensive connections across the sector.

Andrew Scott CBE

Andrew Scott, CBE, is a former director of the National Railway Museum and the London Transport Museum. Now retired, Andrew originally trained and practised as a Chartered Civil Engineer while an active volunteer for the heritage sector. This led to appointments in museum development and curation posts in Wakefield and in Bradford before becoming Director of the London Transport Museum. He was appointed as Director of the National Railway Museum in 1994, a role he held for fifteen years before finishing his career with a year as Interim Chief Executive of the NRM’s parent Science Museum Group, responsible for the Science Museum, Bradford’s National Media Museum and National Railway Museum. Andrew has been a Board member of York Civic Trust since 2012, Chair from 2015 -2019 and is currently Hon. President. He is Deputy Chair of the North York Moors Historical Railway Trust and a Board Member of the North York Moors National Park Authority. He is a Fellow of the Museums Association, a lifelong member of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society and in 2006 was awarded the CBE for services to museums. 

Councillor Simon Daubeney

Simon Daubeney is an elected councillor for the City of York, serving the Westfield ward. With a long career in economic development, Simon has worked across a broad range of activities seeking to develop skills, investment, training and opportunities in York, such as managing the city’s youth enterprise centre for those starting their own businesses, and working in partnership with businesses to develop activities and a joint ethos. Simon was active in the voluntary sector while Regional Director for Young Enterprise, giving young people a taste of running their own business while still at school, as a Business Mentor with the Prince’s Trust, and as a Panel Chair helping young people with the city’s Youth Offending Team. Simon has a wide range of interests, from economics and current affairs to architecture, history, culture and literature. A keen traveller when the opportunity presents itself, Simon never misses the chance to peruse a UK or European Art Gallery, especially the gems of the Dutch School to be found Amsterdam. As a keen observer of all things Victorian, Simon’s favourite spot in the Castle Museum is Kirkgate where he loves the various Victorian shops and artefacts on display.

Keith Nesbitt

Keith brings with him a wealth of business knowledge. Having had a long career firstly with Asda where he was a retail Managing Director before becoming Retail Change Director, he then moved to T.M.Lewin to take up the role of Chief Operating Officer. Here he oversaw the growth of the UK store estate as well as leading business change programmes enabling the business to grow rapidly. In both roles he led capital projects. Since leaving his business life he has helped new and emerging businesses. In 2018 he joined the YME as a board member and the Princes Trust. In his role with Princes Trust he is helping young entrepreneurs to start their own businesses through the delivery of their Explore Enterprise Programme allowing young people to understand how business works and if it is right for them and then working as a Business Mentor once they have launched their business.

Councillor Danny Myers

Danny currently works as a Parliamentary Assistant to Rachael Maskell MP, specialising in communications and campaigns; and since being appointed in May 2015 has held a number of job roles for Ms Maskell including Policy Advisor during Ms Maskell’s role as a Shadow Minister and a Shadow Secretary of State. He has previously served as the City of York Council Labour Group Leader,  was the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority Labour Group Leader and was previously the Secretary of the York and District Trades Union Council from January 2014 to January 2017. In 2015, Danny was elected the Labour Councillor for Clifton Ward on City of York Council. He has served on various committees including, Climate and Environment; Economy and Place; Licensing and Gambling; and Planning. Danny is the co-founder of Clifton Local History Group, a founding committee member of the Lanes Community Garden and a founding member of York Unlocked. He is a proud father of two boys and enjoys the delights of all of York Museums Trust sites, particularly the jewel that is Museum Gardens.

Azra Kirkby

Azra is a Chartered Accountant with more than 25 years’ experience. Born in York, Azra studied Agricultural Economics at Newcastle University before becoming a Chartered Accountant with Price Waterhouse Coopers in London. Returning home, Azra became a Finance Director at Persimmon Homes before moving into the Charitable Sector. With extensive experience working nationally within the social and health care sectors, Azra is now the CEO at St Anne’s Community Services in Leeds. Azra has previously supported the York children’s orchestra ‘Yorchestra’ and is also a director and trustee at the Voluntary Organisation for Disability Groups, supporting the national social care sector. Azra joined the Trust in 2020 within the Audit & Risk Committee before becoming a full board member in 2022. She has a real love for the Castle Museum and for the Museum Gardens, having fond memories of playing in the once named ‘peacock park’. Azra lives in York with her daughter.

Susan Orr

Professor Susan Orr is the Pro Vice Chancellor Education at De Montfort University. Prior to her appointment at DMU she was PVC: Learning and Teaching at York St John University.  Susan has also held leadership positions at Sheffield Hallam University and University of the Arts London. At York St John University Susan led on the delivery of the Learning, Teaching and Student Experience strategy and was the Executive Board Sponsor for its successful application for Bronze Athena Swan and for its preparation towards submitting its Race Equality Charter to Advance HE.

Susan is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Professor of Creative Practice Pedagogy and an HEA Principal Fellow.  Susan was awarded an AdvanceHE National Teaching Fellow in 2010 and won an AdvanceHE  Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) in 2020.