Sonia Coode-Adams MBE

Trustee's 2016 small Jpeg05 Since 1993 Sonia has been Trustee, Chairman and now President of Firstsite. In the year 2000 as Chairman, she initiated the Partnership Board, which included all the major funding bodies to build Firstsite. She was awarded the MBE for Services to contemporary Art and the Community in Essex in 2008.


Meet our Trustees

Rosie Millard OBE – Chair

Rosie Millard OBE

Rosie Millard OBE, is Chair of BBC Children in Need, and CEO of Children and the Arts, a national charity which works to engage all children with great art across the country. Formerly the BBC’s Arts Correspondent, a role she held for a decade, Rosie is a freelance journalist and broadcaster and the author of four books, one of which, ‘The Tastemakers’ (Thames & Hudson), a survey of British contemporary art, is on the required reading list at the University of Arts London. She is also a Trustee of Opera North and was previously a Trustee of the Carnegie (UK) Foundation, Home Live Art and Modern Art Oxford.From June 2014 – March 2018, Rosie served as the Chair of Hull City of Culture 2017, for which she was awarded an OBE. In this role, she oversaw an immersive programme of 2,800 events, cultural activities, installations and exhibitions and drove through her guiding vision to make culture accessible to all – an ambition that resulted in over 95 percent of Hull residents attending at least one of its events, with a total audience of 5.3 million. Rosie has a huge passion for people and places which think differently – one of the many elements which excites her about Firstsite and Colchester. She has always championed  the power of top-flight art for everyone, her knowledge and experience of engaging young people in art and culture provides invaluable guidance to help us to reach and learn from the most vulnerable in our community, address challenges faced, and provide rich, creative experiences which broaden horizons and improve life chances.


Professor Atul Shah


Professor Atul K. Shah, formerly a Board Member of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, is a writer, scholar and lecturer on culture, ethics, finance and diversity. Celebrating Diversity is one of his core passions for which he has written a book, and plans to help Firstsite with this mission. He is presently based at the University of Suffolk Business School. His work has been profiled in the Guardian, Forbes and through a number of broadcasts on various BBC media including World Service, Radio 2 and Radio 4. In 2010 he completed an epic 1500 mile Masala Tour of Britain showcasing Indian culture and assimilation in Britain. He is a global leader and pioneer in the Jain community, one of the oldest living cultures of the world. Atul is proud of his home town of Colchester and keen to help Firstsite embrace the hugely diverse social capital that exists in this town, and celebrate & build social cohesion.

Guy Armitage

Trustee's 2016 small Jpeg03 Founder of Zealous, an online creative network allowing creative talent to be sourced through open calls. He previously founded Bright-Creations in Cairo, Egypt and was in charge of the FTSE quarterly review change for the London Stock Exchange. Guy was featured on the world-changing potential of creativity at TEDx and in Forbes; as well as being a winner of the Tate Digital Art Hackathon.


Martin Blackburn

Martin Originally from Ipswich, Martin is a qualified accountant and currently UK Head of Human Resources at KPMG. He is also a successful playwright and has had his first two plays recently performed in London. Martin spends a lot of his spare time in art galleries and is passionate about the outreach of art and our public galleries.


Mark Durham

Mark Durham

First elected to Maldon District Council in 2011, he is now leader of the Conservative group and Leader of the council. Mark is now a member of Essex County Council and currently Deputy Cabinet Member for Culture, Communities and Customer. With a long background in the hospitality and event management industry, Mark has a wide range of experience.

Roger Hirst (Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex)

Date: May 7 2016 Location: Colchester, Essex, England. Essex Police and Crime Commissioner Elections 2016. Pictured: Winning candidate for the Conservative Party, Roger Hirst, Essex's new Police and Crime Commissioner. Roger Hirst was a Cabinet Member for Essex County Council and Deputy Leader of Brentwood Borough Council, until he stood down to focus on the PCC campaign. He has over 30 years experience as a leading financial analyst in the City, having run the European investment research divisions of major UK European and US international banks.


Jayne Knowles

Trustee's 2016 small Jpeg08 Associate Dean of Wimbledon College of Arts, part of the University of the Arts London, where she oversees the curriculum areas of Fine Art and Theatre & Screen, as well as the operational side of running the College. Prior to this, Jayne taught at Colchester School of Art for 19 years, culminating in four years as Head of School. As Head, she led the School in providing art education to further education and degree students. She also led the Minories Galleries, developing the Masters programmes, educational and visual arts activities based at the Minories. Jayne lives in Colchester, continues her research as a practising artist and has her studio at Cuckoo Farm Studios, in North Colchester. She is committed to developing the arts in Colchester


Julia Obasa

Trustee's 2016 Small Jpeg17 A consultant in identifying new business opportunities, managing finances and marketing with measurable results especially with small and growing local businesses. Julia has her own growing small business, Hashtag4biz which is a hands on business consultancy.


Ranil Perera, MA (Cantab), MSc, DIC, MBA, ACIB, FISI, FIMC, CMC.

Trustee's 2016 small Jpeg02 Ranil is a director of Regulation and Risk Ltd, a financial services risk and regulatory compliance contracting firm. He was a non-executive director of Syndicate Asset Management, several of its subsidiaries and Tower Homes and also a member of the Risk and Audit Committee of London and Quadrant. Prior to Regulation and Risk, he worked for the Financial Services Authority, the UK financial services regulator as well as Citibank NA, the Stanford Research Institute, the British Broadcasting Corporation and Barclays Bank.


Richard Polom

Richard lives in Wivenhoe and is an independent business consultant, working mainly with organisations in the voluntary and public sectors. He has previously worked in finance and commercial management, first with BT and then with the former exams regulator QCA. He is a qualified management accountant and has an MA in economics from Essex University.


Cllr Tim Young, Colchester Borough Council 

Trustee's 2016 small Jpeg11 Tim was first elected to Colchester Borough Council in 1992. He has been Leader of the Labour Group since 1997 and has held various roles on the Council including Chair of the Strategic Overview & Scrutiny Panel. Tim has also held a number of Cabinet portfolio positions in coalition administrations. He is currently Portfolio Holder for Culture and Regeneration and Deputy Lead of the Council. Outside of Colchester Borough Council, Tim is Chair of Colne Housing and a Non-Executive Director of Southend Hospital Trust.


Charlotte Winters

Trustee's 2016 Small Jpeg19 Charlotte works with YAK, Firstsite’s young people peer group which organises events and activities within the gallery. Recently she worked on the group’s Flipside Festival and helped produce a two week exhibition throughout the building.





Meet our team.