Storyhouse is managed by a talented and highly committed team including a fantastic board of trustees who give their time freely and for which we are very grateful.
Andrew Bentley BEM – Chief Executive
Andrew is Storyhouse’s founding Chief Executive and has led the organisation since 2006. Andrew trained as a musician and has many years experience running large cultural venues. He was Director of Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall, which he re-built and re-launched. He has spent considerable time in both the cultural and private sectors. He co-founded and built Liverpool’s iconic Hope Street Hotel which, along with its restaurant, has won many national awards over the years, including the industry’s award for the UK’s Best New Hotel. He arranged to buy the bankrupt Playhouse theatre and raised enough funds to re-furbish and bring about its merger with the Liverpool Everyman. He is a board member of UK Theatre.
Andrew was awarded a BEM in the Queen’s 2020 Birthday Honours List for services to arts and libraries.
Suzie Henderson – Creative Director
Suzie is Creative Director and joined Storyhouse in January 2022. As Creative Director Suzie leads on our Creative Communities programme of engagement and co-curation work with communities and young people. As well as leading our festivals and talent development programmes. Suzie trained in Drama at the University of Bristol, after finding her way in to the arts as a teenager via her local youth theatre. Before joining Storyhouse Suzie was Head of Creative Development for Contact in Manchester where she led on the development of The Agency, a UK wide social entrepreneurship programme in partnership with Battersea Arts Centre, People’s Palace Projects and Brazilian Artist and Cultural Leader Marcus Faustini. As well as leading on the development of a range of socially engaged theatre pieces focused on unheard and underrepresented voices. Suzie has worked extensively nationally and internationally in youth governance and leadership, co-curation with young people and communities and arts for social change. Suzie has a particular interest in the civic role of arts organisations. She is also an expert in reality tv and gin based cocktails.
Oliver Hill – Operations Director
Olly runs all of our venue operations, customer service, food & drink and all event programmes. He has worked in hospitality and operations for 20 years, as a general manager, cluster manager & operations manager as well as in brand development and marketing. He has run numerous restaurants, bars and live music venues in London, Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, as well as working on festivals and as a consultant on over 10 new bar openings. He came to Storyhouse having spent a number of years as the General F&B Manager for Chester Zoo.
Kate Mylchreest – Development Director
Kate runs our fundraising and stakeholder management programmes. She has a degree in Sociology and Anthropology from Newcastle University and has worked in fundraising for the not-for-profit sector for over 20 years. She is an avowed champion of Storyhouse’s community programme, particularly supporting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. She has considerable experience in the NHS and held senior positions at both the Countess of Chester and The Royal Liverpool University Hospital, where she set up the R Charity. Kate has specialist experience of managing large capital fundraising campaigns and has lectured at University of Liverpool on this area. She continues to mentor other fundraisers. She started her career in human rights and disability charities in London before coming home to Chester. She’s a long suffering and active member of the local Labour party and knows Chester like nobody else.
Ros Thomas – Finance Director
Ros joined the Storyhouse team in 2017. As the head of finance, she has an overall responsibility for the charity’s financial health. Ros combines both an operational and strategic role, managing the accounting and financial control functions for the organisation as well as shaping its financial strategy to ensure long-term sustainability. An industry accountant from a commercial background, Ros previously worked at Chester Race Company specialising in project management and systems change. After 15 years living & working in Chester, Ros considers this home and enjoys spending anytime she’s not working with her small human.
Board of Trustees
David Watson – Chair
David is currently the Executive Director of Audiences and Media at National Museums Liverpool. He is also founder and creative director of The Great British Gala, creative director of MikMen and a trustee of One Dance UK, the national body for dance, while previous roles include Director of Brand and Advocacy for Birmingham Royal Ballet and Head of Digital / Digital Editor in Chief for Hull City of Culture 2017.
Ngunan Adamu – Trustee
Ngunan Adamu is a trained journalist, multi-media trainer and entrepreneur, working for varying departments within the BBC with a focus on outreach, youth and music. Ngunan has been at the BBC for fifteen years working locally, nationally and internationally, with a passion for working with women and young people, using media – especially radio to empower and educate the masses. She is currently the producer and presenter of Upfront which is a Black Magazine show at BBC Radio Merseyside focusing on news, current affairs, stories and music that is of interest to the Merseyside Black community. She’s also an international multimedia trainer for the BBC World Service, travelling the globe training foreign journalists and editors for the BBC World Service. Ngunan is also the founder of iWoman Academy CIC a radio academy for women.
Erik Boekesteijn – Trustee
Erik is a Library Avenger and one of Europe’s most respected librarians; he was responsible for much of the design for Storyhouse’s library. He lives in the Netherlands where he is Senior Advisor at the National Library at the Netherlands (KB). He is the Consultant Public Libraries 2020 and founding father of Public Libraries 2030. Facilitator and consultant for IFLA. Owner of Shanachie Media and producer of This Week in Libraries and ShanachieTours, a worldwide tour of searching for best practice in libraries. Presenter, motivator, musician and author. Erik was LJ’s Mover and Shaker of the Library world 2009; and literally and officially the Best Librarian in the Netherlands 2015.
Bense Burnett – Trustee
Bense’s career spans senior leadership roles across numerous countries within a global healthcare business. He brings expertise in Business Strategy, Project Management, Change Management and Governance having delivered complex, cost-effective services and major organisational change programmes internationally. Throughout his career he has been passionate about applying his expertise to deliver a ‘best in class’ consumer experience. His knowledge and advice has been used by the UK Governments Business, Skills & Innovation Department to assess Shared Services capabilities for its Research Councils in order to drive a major strategy delivery plan. His long held keen interest in the arts together with his recent retirement means that he now has the opportunity to apply his commercial experience to supporting Storyhouse moving forward.
Michaela Dalton – Trustee
Michaela was born and raised in Chester, and although now living just over the Welsh border, still considers Chester home. She feels passionate about putting back into a community that she has drawn so much from over the years. Currently working as part of the Cheshire West and Chester local authority-commissioned Emotional Health and Wellbeing Service within Children’s Social Care, allows her to combine her personal and professional experiences to support the some of the most vulnerable, disadvantaged or under represented young people in our community. Coming from a Neuro-diverse family, couples with raising a child with a complex physical disability has led to a 1st class honours degree in Education Studies and Inclusion at Liverpool John Moores University, followed by an Masters Education in Society at University of Chester, and an ongoing PCET at Wrexham Glyndwr University. Michaela has a background in alternative educational provision, working primarily with what are often described as ‘hard to reach’ young people. Inclusion is at the heart of everything she does and she is an advocate for fair access to education for all.
Andy Fergus – Trustee
Andy Fergus is the Commercial Director of Hope House and Ty Gobaith Children’s Hospices, responsible for the charity’s finance, retail, estates, digital and governance functions. He graduated with a Management Science degree from University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology before joining MBNA in the US and then in Chester. His work in financial services was followed by time as an entrepreneur in the retail and hospitality sectors and as a consultant. He has been with Hope House since 2013. Andy holds a Master’s degree in Charity Leadership and Management from the University of Chester and co-founded the Dragonsong youth choir in Wrexham.
John Grout – Trustee
John qualified as a chartered accountant with Ernst&Young before working in the UK and internationally with commercial, banking and charitable organisations. He retired as Finance Director of CAF Bank in 2020 and now works part time as Treasurer of Charities Aid Foundation. ‘
Jane Hyndman – Vice-Chair
Jane is an experienced media and copyright lawyer. Jane has worked for and advised many media companies, predominately in the audio-visual sector and is an experienced board director currently sitting on the boards of AGICOA in Switzerland and The Educational Recording Agency in the UK.
Amy Jones – Trustee
Amy came to the board via Storyhouse’s Young Trustee programme and she chairs our Youth Forum. She is 24 and from North Wales and has a BA Hons in Broadcast Journalism and Media Communications. She has also been on our Young Leaders Programme. Amy spends time helping our in the Wardrobe Department and worked backstage on Storyhouse Original’s Productions – Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Blue Stockings, The Suicide and Miss Julie. She has also worked at Lush Cosmetics in Chester.
Sioned Jones – Trustee
Sioned is a senior manager and leader in the not for profit sector where she has worked for over two decades. In that time she has had a variety of roles in a range of organisations including at international NGO, Oxfam, the uk’s leading sight loss charity, RNIB, the women’s rights NGO founded by Annie Lennox, The Circle and currently is a Director at the Tax Justice Network. In addition, she is a trustee at Magic for Smiles, a small charity working to support the wellbeing of refugee children through magic shows and tuition. The common thread weaving through Sioned’s professional and personal life is her desire for social justice. Originally from North Wales, having moved to London in the late 80’s for work, Sioned returned to the north west and settled with her family in Chester in 2017. In her spare time she attends live music and events and is throughly enjoying experiencing the wonderful array of cultural arts venues and events across the region, but of course, especially the Storyhouse.
Katrina Kerr – Trustee
Katrina is a marketing and communications specialist, and chairs our Development Commitee. She divides her time between non-executive roles and consultancy. Her non-exec roles have included a financial services plc, a listed media content company, a university board, an arts organisation, an orchestra and currently a £200m Manchester-based social enterprise covering lifelong education. She has worked for number of multinational communications agencies – Ogilvy, JWT, Publicis – and delivered award-winning marketing and communications campaigns with outstanding return on investment for clients such as Unilever, HSBC, Renault, Reckitt Benckiser and American Express. She has considerable expertise in areas such as customer insight, consumer research both quantitative and qualitative, digital marketing and market research. She has won 5 IPA Advertising Effectiveness Awards and has judged both the Norther Digital and Northern Marketing Awards several times. From 2013 – 2018 she was CEO of Marketing Cheshire a private/public partnership dedicated to tourism and place marketing where she has grown the partnership income and funding significantly and created profitable new partnerships, products and revenue streams. She has also worked extensively on inward investment and spearheaded Cheshire’s MIPIM initiative.
Dadiow Lin – Trustee
Dadiow is a freelance theatre director. She directs contemporary plays, adaptation of classics, new writings, and devised performances. Her works has been presented at Storyhouse, the Young Vic, Soho Theatre, RADA, Theatre 503, Southwark Playhouse, Camden People’s Theatre, Rich Mix, BAC and more. Dadiow is the recipient of the Genesis Future Directors Award 2019. She directed Storyhouse’s highly acclaimed staging of Miss Julie in 2020, before joining the board. Before moving into the UK, she worked as an assistant director on productions at the National Theatre of Taiwan. She also directed classical and contemporary plays, and won the Best Director award at the Youth Talent Theatre Festival Competition back in Taiwan. Dadiow’s cultural background pushes her to view the world through various lenses and makes her more sensitive towards the cultural differences that she’s surrounded by. This makes her naturally bring fresh perspectives to a production while directing.
Rio Matchett – Trustee
Rio chairs our Access & Inclusion Committee and is our A&I champion. She is a PhD researcher in queer theory and periodical studies at the University of Liverpool, where she sits on the working groups for Decolonising the Curriculum, and the Postgraduate Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She is a founder of the Queer Modernism(s) conference at the University of Oxford, and the Post Graduate Representative for the European Society of Periodical Research. Rio is a freelance dramaturg, and currently works as the Furnace Coordinator at Leeds Playhouse. She has worked as a reader for organisations including the Bruntwood Prize and Hampstead theatre, and as a director has worked for the Young Vic, Bristol Old Vic, the Traverse, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, and Unity. Rio has transformed our work in access and inclusion and her tireless work for Storyhouse has been key in pushing us to achieve Arts Council England’s current high rating for Storyhouse’s creative case for diversity.
Maria Perny – Trustee
Maria has over 25 years experience in the global energy marketing and trading industry being based in Houston, Texas for the majority of her working life while holding senior executive positions with responsibility for teams in the USA, UK, India and Singapore. Her roles have covered Commercial Trading and Financial Management, Risk Management, large-scale technology project implementation, Change Management and Operations in addition to strategic leadership responsibilities. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. While living in Houston, she was on the Operating Committee of Books Between Kids, a wonderful charity working to help impoverished and at-risk children own books of their own and to develop a love of reading. In 2021, she moved to Chester and having recently retired is delighted to be able to leverage her expertise for the benefit of the wonderful welcoming community of Chester and specifically the Storyhouse mission.
Vidya Venugopal – Trustee
Vidya Venugopal is an international development lawyer working in a multilateral development bank and has predominantly worked in the banking sector over the last decade. At her current role, she is responsible for advising clients in South Asia on the legal and operational issues concerning the projects being financed by the institution. Prior to coming to Chester with her spouse, she lived, studied and/or worked for significant periods in India, Middle East and the US. With a passion for art and literature and specifically the institutions and places that enables their impact, she is looking forward to applying her skills to support the Storyhouse mission. Most days when in Chester, she can be found taking her break in one of the many indie coffee shops that dots the city.