Kit Chapman is the Proprietor of The Castle at Taunton. He is a well-known personality on the British hotel and restaurant scene, and as a bon viveur, writer and television presenter, he has been a vigorous campaigner for improving culinary standards in this country. He is also the architect of the hotel’s regular programme of literary and cultural events, and over the past forty years, he has attracted many of the world’s greatest chamber music ensembles to play at The Castle for its annual season of winter weekend festivals.
My Archipelago is Kit’s fourth book. An Innkeeper’s Diary, published in 1999, is an amusing and waspish account of a year in his life at The Castle. And his two volumes of Great British Chefs were award-winning studies of the state of gastronomy in the UK.
In 1989, Kit was appointed MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his work in hospitality and the tourism industry.
Martyn Owen is Deputy Principal of Richard Huish College in Taunton. He has served as Director of Music at RHC and as Head of the Faculty for Arts and Business. Martyn has a background as a professional musician in orchestras, opera and commercial recordings.
Jonathan Langdon is a general practice accountant who qualified with Coopers & Lybrand (now PriceWaterhouseCoopers) in Bristol before managing their Business Services Group. In 1988 he co-founded Milsted Langdon with Simon Milsted and, in addition to overseeing the affairs of a large variety of clients, he is the firm’s staff and administration partner.
Greg is a Partner at Clarke Willmott in their Commercial & Private Client Litigation team. He has expertise in all areas of commercial litigation with a particular focus on shareholder disputes, warranty claims, removal of directors and all other common areas in corporate disputes. Greg has substantial experience in defamation matters and has advised local authorities and large corporates on procurement issues and judicial review.
Pam has worked in the field of Marketing and Business Development for the last 30 years. Her career began at the Daily Express and later led to heading up a special publications unit developing business to business direct mail magazines. From there Pam successfully launched several new titles into very competitive markets eventually leaving the work to become a mother. Always keen to keep her hand in during the early years of motherhood Pam worked for a national agency producing demographic surveys for prospective national companies seeking to relocate. This taught her the value of proper research into customer need and market development..
On her return to full time work she turned back to the world of Newspapers and launched a new property paper which was later bought by the local competitor.
Gazing through her crystal ball Pam foresaw the decline of the world of newspapers and took up position as the group marketing manager for Business Link and Somerset Training and Enterprise Council when they merged.
In later years she decided to use her ability to raise money and moved into the third sector working for charities at Director level at a business development, marketing and fundraising capacity with challenging targets of circa £4m per annum. She continued in this capacity for 12 years working in both local and national charities. She has also held the positions of Trustee, Vice Chair and later Chairman within that sector.
Pam started her own marketing company in 2012; White Knight Marketing Ltd and now specialises in working with companies who need marketing support. She is still very ‘hands-on’ in her practical approach and enjoys the new avenues for marketing that technology has opened. The work her company handles now is very varied and is for both small and multi-million pound organisations across all sectors.
Julie has extensive experience of working in charities including at CEO and chair level, as well as holding board positions in a number of organisations in both the private and public sectors. She currently acts as a board adviser and mentor to the director of an international charity and was invited to be a Patron of Vitalforrchildren. Multiple national business awards include Charity Principal of the Year in 2002, as well as being runner-up as Britain’s Best Boss. She was invited as the after-dinner speaker at a Charity Commission annual conference, and was involved in the launch of their charity mergers document.
Currently a management consultant assessing Chartered Manager candidates worldwide, she has a long-standing interest in the arts, including in a participatory capacity as a performer in both amateur and professional fields.
Since graduating from Edinburgh University with an MA in History of Art, Donald Rice has worked in film, TV and theatre production in the UK and US. He is the writer and director of the award-winning short films TRAFFIC WARDEN and I AM BOB (Academy Award long-listed) and co-wrote and directed the feature film CHEERFUL WEATHER FOR THE WEDDING.
Other films on which he has worked include THE LOST PRINCE, BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS and CLOSER. He is currently working on the stage adaptation of the novel FROM HERE TO ETERNITY.
Outside of film and theatre, his interests include architecture and ecology.
Co-opted Board Members
Ann Jones is founding director of ArtProjects and Solutions, which she founded in 2000. She has over 30 years’ experience of the contemporary arts and crafts sector gained from a training in fine art and working for London based galleries such as the Whitechapel Art Gallery and Camden Arts Centre before becoming Head of Visual Arts at the Barbican Centre.
Whilst at the Barbican Centre Ann curated and managed a rolling programme of contemporary exhibitions and international festivals. At ArtProjects and Solutions, Ann has built up an impressive client base from small, dynamic galleries, museums like the British Museum, Qatar Museums Authority and Victoria and Albert Museum. She has carried out extended contracts for the University of Sunderland and University of Lincoln.
Ann has worked as arts advisor to Bacardi Global Brands and delivered substantial programmes to major agencies such as Arts Council England, Norwegian Crafts and British Council. She recently worked with consortia trying to regenerate towns and cities through culture. One example is her project for the City of Lincoln, where she attracted significant funding and built a programme of contemporary works to mark 800 years of Magna Carta and The Charter of the Forest (2015-17).
Ann is experienced in commissioning work for galleries, outdoor and digital spaces. She has designed and delivered international research programmes for curators, established international artist residency programmes, and developed high-profile international arts competitions, including the Bombay Sapphire Glass Prize and the Jameel Prize.
Vanessa Lefrancois is the CE of The Brewhouse Theatre and ARts Centre in Taunton. Vanessa has an Executive MBA (first class) from CASS Business School London and a first class BA (Hons) degree in Arts Practice and Cultural Policy.
Vanessa spent her early career working as a performer and performing arts teacher in west London. In 1995 Vanessa became a resident artist at The Place theatre in London and established contemporary dance theatre company Jumpstart which toured nationally. As her career developed she established herself as a freelance choreographer and director working in opera, theatre and dance. Her career has taken her all over Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Bermuda. Companies she has worked with include the Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne Festival Theatre and Chichester Festival Theatre.
In 2006 Vanessa moved into administrative roles to accommodate her family life. First working as a general manager in WPP Branding and Insight Company Added Value and then as Director of Recreational and Prevocational Dance at The Place in London. Vanessa is a former Trustee for Akademi and mentor for Dance UK.
Ian Timms is Assistant Director – Business Development of Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council.