The Birmingham Civic Society is governed by its Board of Trustees with the committees directing the programmes in the different areas of activity. The day to day operations of the Society, Birmingham Trees for Life and the Next Generation Awards are sustained through the invaluable contribution of the Executive Team.

Gavin Orton
Chair of planning committee

Gavin is an RIBA Chartered Architect and Associate at BPN Architects who are based in the Jewellery Quarter. He works on a wide variety of projects across Birmingham and the West Midlands. Having become involved in the Society’s Planning Committee in 2008 and became its Chair and a Trustee in 2013. Gavin was formerly Chair of RIBA West Midlands and President of Birmingham Architectural Association (BAA). During his time at the BAA, he launched Walking Architecture: Birmingham – a free architectural guide to Birmingham for smart phones. Gavin studied architecture at The Birmingham School of Architecture (Birmingham City University) and now regularly tutors MA Architecture students at the School as part of the Teaching Practice programme. Gavin is also a Trustee of Birmingham & Five Counties Architectural Association, which holds one of the largest architectural drawing collections in the UK outside of London and judges The Green Book Award.

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Nick Venning
Deputy Chair
Chair of citizenship committee

Nick was formally Marketing Director, Global Industries at PricewaterhouseCoopers with worldwide responsibility for strategic positioning and business development in key supply chain sectors including automotive, energy utilities and mining, industrial manufactures, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods and retail services. Nick is well known as a champion of the voluntary sector; he currently chairs St Basils Fundraising & External Relations Committee and is an active supporter of The Prince’s Trust and Birmingham & Black Country Community Foundation. He was joint founder of Thrive, Birmingham’s Corporate Social Responsibility Forum. Nick is a Governor of Bromsgrove School. Originally a graduate in Chemistry, Nick also holds MBA and PhD degrees from Aston University and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

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Robin Barnes
Honorary Treasurer

Robin, a Chartered Accountant is a Partner in Edgbaston based JW Hinks. He leads the Healthcare department of the firm and is a member of the National Association of Specialist Dental Accountants and Lawyers. He also has responsibility for the SME services offered by the firm. He is a past Chairman of Sandwell Junior Chamber of Commerce and for five years was Chairman of his local Residents Association. An adopted Brummie of thirty years, his Suffolk roots means he remains a “Tractor Boy” ( like many innovations, a name created in Birmingham!),but spends his summer days enjoying the cricket at Edgbaston. Robin is married to Interior Designer Suzanne, who is also a trustee of the world leading blood cancer charity Cure Leukaemia, based at the QE Hospital.

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Christine Cushing
Immediate Past Chair

Since retiring from her role as Design and Marketing Manager for one of the oldest and largest manufacturers in the Jewellery Quarter, Christine continues to love the City’s industrial history and more specifically, the Jewellery Quarter, and is now a volunteer tour guide at the Coffin Works. She is also a Governor of a primary school in Highgate and has been part of Birmingham Cathedral’s Tercentary Committee, leading on the Heritage strand.

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Geoff Cole
Chair of Birmingham Trees for Life

After retiring from the post of Assistant Director Parks, Sports and Events with Birmingham City Council in April 2006, Geoff became one of the founder members of the Birmingham Trees for Life Project and a volunteer member of the Trees Committee. His background is in horticulture, having spent 42 years in the profession. He began as a 16 year old parks apprentice before spending three years as a student at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where he attained the Kew Diploma with Honours.  Parks management positions in Plymouth and Torbay followed before he joined the Birmingham Parks Department in 1975. He worked for Birmingham City Council for 31 years and whilst in later years his remit included leisure services he has always been involved with parks, horticulture and trees.

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Rita McLean
Chair of the heritage committee

Rita worked in the museums and heritage sector throughout her career, including over 20 years with Birmingham Museums Service. From 2004 until May 2012, she was Head of Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery (BMAG) and prior to this a member of BMAG’s senior team with responsibility for the service’s historic house museums and sites. In 2010 she was awared an honorary doctorate by the University of Birmingham for services to the cultural life of the city. Rita now works as an independent museums and heritage consultant with historic research, lecturing and writing projects. She serves on the National Trust’s Midlands Region Advisory Board and the editorial board of History West Midlands Magazine.

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Jagjit Taunque MBE DL

Jagjit, a retired Birmingham City Community Liaison and Media Officer in Environmental Health Services, came from India in 1961 and graduated from Birmingham University in 1966. He was the first Asian to win the West Midlands County Council election in 1979 representing Soho Ward in Birmingham, was one of the founder members of the West Midlands County Council Airport Committee and had the honour to represent Great Britain in the International Nuclear Free Zone Authorities Conference in Cordoba, Spain where he spoke on Nuclear Disarmament. In 2000 he was awarded an MBE for services to community relations in Birmingham and was subsequently appointed Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands by Her Majesty the Queen in 2001. In 2002 he was awarded Honorary Degree of Doctorate by the University of Birmingham and Ambassador for Peace by the Interreligious International Federation for World Peace. In 2000 he was honoured with the “Videsh Samman” during the 54th Independence Celebrations by the Government of India.

Stephen Hartland
Chair of public art committee

Stephen’s interests are wide and varied, and are largely focused on citizenship and the active pursuit of making a difference in the city. He tries to achieve this through membership of various organizations which include Trustee of The Birmingham Civic Society, for which he chaired the Planning Committee from 2001 to 2007. During this time he developed the Committee to a point where it is consulted by both the City Council and developers on planning matters, and its suggestions often implemented. The idea of the Society’s Renaissance Award was conceived and implemented by him in 2007.

Stephen was also founder member and the first Chairman of Birmingham Trees for Life (2005-2007) which planted its 10,000th tree in the city in 2011. He has been a member of The Victorian Society since 1983 and has sat on the Executive Committee of the Birmingham and West Midlands branch since 2002, becoming Chairman in 2009.

Cllr Ray Hassall

Ray is The Lord Mayor of Birmingham 2015-16. The former Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture, Councillor Ray Hassall and was first elected to the City Council in May 1990. Formerly a leading member of Scrutiny, Councillor Hassall has served on the Coordinating, Health and Transportation and Street Services Overview and Scrutiny Committees. He was the Chairman of the Leisure, Sport & Culture Overview and Scrutiny Committee from 2004 to 2006. He has also been a member of the West Midlands Local Government Association and was a member of the Planning Committee for 14 years. When Cabinet Member for Sport, Heritage and Leisure, Ray was also involved in setting up the city tree planting organisation acting on behalf of the city with Stephen Hartland on behalf of the Civic Society.

Tony Elvin

Tony is the Manager of Hotel du Vin.  A southerner by birth, Tony is passionate about his adopted City and proud to be part it’s continued growth and success.
Tony is General Manager of Hotel du Vin and was also co-opted to the Board in July 2015.  Since 2012 he has been an active Ambassador for the Society successfully recruiting new corporate members and is a member of our recently formed Membership Committee.  Tony is also heavily involved in raising funds for the Birmingham Big Art Project.  As the only Trustee working within Birmingham’s rapidly growing, and much lauded, hospitality sector, Tony believes his ‘non-professional services’ background could offer a different perspective on our City for the Society.

Lorraine Francis
Chair of Membership Committee

Lorraine set up Weave Marketing in 2004 after spending 14 years (the last three as Executive Director) with Birmingham Forward, a membership organisation now known as BPS Birmingham Leaders.

She thrives on running complex projects and delivering events for clients with the aim of helping them to forge strategic connections with those they wish to influence or do business with.

Lorraine has a particular interest in corporate social responsibility and passionately believes that we have a responsibility to give something back to the city in which we make our living. She is motivated by making connections, making things happen and helping to facilitate change.

Lorraine is also a Council Member of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and a Birmingham Common Purpose Advisory Group member.

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Kirsty Davies-Chinnock
Chair of centenary committee

Kirsty is the MD of Professional Polishing Services Ltd, the UK’s market leader in mechanical surface finishing. She leads an award winning company and is proud to represent Birmingham’s manufacturing heritage within her home city. Her hobbies include eating at our City’s amazing restaurants and playing Roller Derby with Birmingham Blitz Dames. She also runs the BCS Facebook and Twitter feed.

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Darren Kenny

Darren is a litigation lawyer at DWF, with a particular focus on exporting legal services from Birmingham to Russia and the CIS. Darren is a Director of DWF LLP specialising in complex, high-value, cross-jurisdictional disputes.  His practice embraces all aspects of international trade, commerce and finance, with a particular focus on Russia, the CIS, Eastern Europe and off-shore jurisdictions/tax havens.  He was co-opted to the Society’s Board of Trustees in September 2015 and has experience in governance from his current role as a Trustee of Sport4Life UK.  Darren says that he is happy to get involved with whatever the Society requires, although engagement and outreach is of particular interest. 

Andy Mitchell

Andy has worked for NatWest and RBS for 26 years. He has a background of delivering the banking needs of SME, Large Corporate and PLC clients and has operated across a range of sectors and geographies, including manufacturing, consumer industries and real estate. Andy ran the North East office of RBS between 2003 and 2006 where he repositioned the bank’s offering to the local market place. Between 2006 and 2011 he led the Bank’s Real Estate Finance team across the North of England and was heavily involved in redesigning the Bank’s real estate strategy. Since 2011 has been based in the West Midlands, responsible for delivering and growing the Bank’s reach and interactions across both NatWest and RBS brands.

Sean Elson

Sean is a Partner at Pinsent Masons LLP. He was co-opted as a Trustee in September 2015. The main focus of his work at Pinsent Masons is in health and safety. He is Secretary of the Health and Safety Lawyers Association and a Trustee and Director of the Construction Health and Safety Group, a charitable safety organisation for the construction industry.

Michael Butler

Michael is Reader in Transformational Change at Aston Business School, Aston University and was co-opted to the Board of Trustees in July 2015. He is passionate about Birmingham’s history and wants to celebrate the past and maintain the heritage that survives by making this legacy relevant to contemporary audiences for their enjoyment and education. To achieve this he brings his academic experience of working in a top-ranked business school. Aston University is a corporate partner and he is a direct link to colleagues and students, local and international.

Peter Miles
Chair of Events Committee

Biography coming soon…

Executive Team for Trustees

Kay Dashti

Kay is a Membership committee member and supports the Next Generation Awards.  She is an active and committed member of DWF’s Corporate Social Responsibility team, focusing on inclusion.  Kay is also a past (and hopefully future) performer of Colmore Chorus.

Jo Dunlop
Next Generation Awards Project Manager

Jo began her career in marketing in London and moved to Birmingham in 2000 when she joined the Art and Design department at BBC, Pebble Mill.  Jo is now a freelance project manager working primarily in the film production and charity sectors.  In addition to managing the Next Generation Awards, Jo is also currently working with Into Film on space related film activities and career development initiatives for young people.

Jane Harding
Birmingham Trees for Life Project Manager

As Project Manager for Birmingham Trees for Life, Jane carries out the day to day management of BTfL activities, and provides both professional and administrative support to the Trees Committee, on a freelance basis. She has worked in the services and charitable sectors in the past, before retraining as a garden designer; she now runs a successful business which is complementary to her work with BTfL.

Jane Edwards
BTfL Schools and Community Liaison Officer

Jane uses her extensive knowledge of Birmingham to engage community groups and schoolchildren in tree planting within BTfL. As an Educational Volunteer at Birmingham Botanical Gardens, she promotes the value of trees and plants to visiting children.

Jamie Justham
Recording Secretary to Board of Trustees

Following a management career in manufacturing, Jamie founded a software consultancy in 1989. When the business was sold he kept an interest in the company, where he still works part time. He’s also a Board Member of the CBSO Development Trust and Secretary of the Birmingham Civic Society and the Birmingham Big Art Foundation.