David Wood OBE: President

The Times dubbed David ‘the national children’s dramatist’. Original plays include The Gingerbread Man, The Selfish Shellfish and Save the Human, all directed by him and toured by his Whirligig Theatre. Adaptations include eight Roald Dahl stories, Philippa Pearce’s Tom's Midnight Garden, the Olivier Award-winning Goodnight Mister Tom (from Michelle Magorian’s novel) and Olivier nominee The Tiger who came to Tea (from Judith Kerr’s classic picture book). He also writes children’s books and tells his stories in schools and theatres.

Image credit: Nick Gregan

Vicky Ireland, MBE FRSA: Ambassador and Trustee

Vicky is a freelance Children’s Theatre director and writer who joined the first TIE team at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, and worked as an actress in many Reps. She presented the BBC’s Words and Pictures for twelve years, created children’s plays at Regent’s Park Theatre and was Artistic Director of Polka Theatre, Wimbledon, for fourteen years. She is an Associate Director of A Thousand Cranes Theatre and the Secretary of IIAN, the International Inclusive Arts Network for the performing arts for young audiences.Vicky has ten published plays, is a BAFTA-nominated BBC TV writer and has represented UK children’s theatre all around the world. She is a patron of Polka Theatre, a Trustee of SAVVY Theatre and an Honorary Member of the World Children’s Theatre Association, ASSITEJ.

Janet Robertson, FRSA: Chair

A Project Manager, Creative Director, Producer and Teaching Artist; Janet is also a music and theatre practitioner and educator with over 25 years experience leading and managing projects with companies including, Scottish Opera (Assistant Producer/Director and MD for Education programme), Ambassador Theatre Group (Education and Audience Development Consultant), National Youth Music Theatre (Associate Director and founder of their outreach programme), the Really Useful Group, and the BBC.


Susan Whiddington CBE: Vice Chair

Susan is the founding Chief Executive of Mousetrap Theatre Projects, a theatre education charity dedicated to creating opportunities for disadvantaged young people and young people with additional needs to attend outstanding theatre across London and participate in innovative drama projects to learn new skills, take risks, and raise confidence and self-esteem.

Susan also chairs the Musical Boroughs Trust, the charity arm of the Tri-Borough Music Hub, is a board member of DanceWest, an Advisory Board Member of Facing History and Ourselves, an organisation that teaches teachers how to engage students in discussions of racism, prejudice and anti-Semitism.  Susan is a past chair of John Lyon's Charity, has been a Governor of a state primary and an independent school, and is a past Chair of Democrats Abroad UK.  She is also a RSA Fellow and member of International Women's Foundation.

David Lee-Jones: Treasurer

David is an actor, theatre director and writer whose stage appearances include numerous classical and modern roles. He has also worked on Theatre in Education productions and led drama workshops in schools. He is a passionate advocate of diversity on stage and screen. David maintains a parallel career in healthcare management, which has given him a special interest in links between mental health and the arts.

Janna Balham

Janna Balham is a registered therapist with The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and works as a Child Counsellor in primary schools and in private practice. Before qualifying with Place2Be she spent 14 years in the Arts Education sector working at one of the UK’s leading children’s theatres, Polka Theatre in Wimbledon, where she was Head of Creative Learning for 7 years. Janna is passionate about the importance of creativity and the arts in mental health and their essential role in childhood development and education.

Simon Bates

Simon, the former COO of Manifesto, a London-based digital agency now works as an independent children's theatre producer and volunteer for a number of UK-based charities.

Chris Jarvis

Chris Jarvis joined Children’s BBC television in 1993 and has presented a wide variety of shows for all ages including ‘Playdays’ for preschoolers and ‘Fully Booked’ for young teens.  Since 2002 he has been part of CBeebies hosting many shows - notably 'Show Me Show Me’ - as well as writing and devising programmes including the BAFTA and RTS winning 'Old Jack's Boat.'   He also writes, directs and appears in pantomimes for TV and stage.

Philip Spedding

Philip is a cultural fundraiser with 30 years’ experience.  Around half his career he has spent working in cultural organisations, including the Young Vic, Almeida, London Library, British Library and, most recently, Tate.  The rest of his time has been spent advising donors, companies and cultural organisations.  This has involved working at organisations including Charities Aid Foundation and Arts & Business, where he eventually became the Director and ran the Prince of Wales Medal for Arts Philanthropy.  He has spoken on private sector support of culture across the media and in countries including Canada, Russia, Finland and Vietnam, as well as throughout the UK.  He is a volunteer director of the Charity Tax Group, has sat on the Treasury’s Charity Tax Forum and is vice-Treasurer of the Lambeth Horticultural Society.

James Tarbit

James Tarbit is CEO, International of Ipsos Karian and Box, a market-leading employee experience and change consultancy. In this role he advises the leadership teams of companies in a range of sectors on topics including culture, leadership and organisational development. Previously, he was HSBC's Global Head of Employee Insight, where he directed research activity for its 250,000 employees. His background is in board and strategic consultancy.

Toby Mitchell

Toby Mitchell is co-founder and artistic director of Tall Stories Theatre Company, a registered charity which has become internationally recognised over the last 25 years for its blend of storytelling, original music and lots of laughs. In 2020 the company partnered with Islington Council to transform a section of the council’s Central Library (in north London) into a storytelling hub, housing an office space and a brand new studio designed for rehearsals, preview performances and community work. Prior to Tall Stories, Toby worked as a French and drama teacher, and as a children’s books editor.

Pete Dowse

Pete is a theatre creator specialising in children’s and early years educational performances. The Creative Producer and Head of Performances to Children at Chickenshed Theatre, Pete specialises in Theatre in Education, inclusion and early years practice.