Suzy Brain England

Suzy Brain England C Dir, OBE

Chair of Derwent Housing Association. An experienced board chair, non-executive director, consultant, mentor and counsellor. Received an OBE in 2009 in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for public service with the Department for Work and Pensions and was named Non-Executive Director of the Year in Yorkshire. Currently Suzy is:

  • Non-executive Director Barnsley NHS Foundation Trust Hospital;
  • Mentor, counsellor and founder of Cloud Talking;
  • Chair, Sheffield Business Improvement District;
  • Trustee/Chair designate, Keep Britain Tidy;
  • Lay Chair, Yorkshire Deanery doctor training & recruitment;
  • Lay Member, Disciplinary Panel British Computer Society;
  • Consultant in governance and board development.

Suzy also serves on the board of Derwent Community Housing, a charitable subsidiary of Derwent Housing Association. Also a member of both the Treasury Committee, and Governance and Remunerations Committee.

Ian Cherry

A chartered accountant with 20 years’ commercial experience as finance director and chief executive. Background in the large corporate environment, now working in a high growth technology enabled rental business which is private equity backed. Experience of high growth business, business turnaround and funding, and business sales in various sectors, including business process outsourcing, insurance and retail.

Currently serves on the Derwent Housing Association Board and the combined Centro Place Investments/Derwent FM Board (Derwent Living’s commercial arm).

Margaret Gildea

Margaret Gildea MA (Cantab), MBA, OBE

An HR and change management consultant with over 20 years’ experience of change management, organisation development, restructuring, talent management, and learning and development. This includes at senior management and director level at Rolls-Royce, and non-executive directorships in the health service and skills sector. Serves on the Derwent Housing Association Board and is chair of Governance and Remuneration Committee.


Susan Hickey

Susan is chief financial officer of one of London’s largest housing providers and has over 25 years’ experience in leadership and senior roles, including corporate finance, finance services, governance, legal, and assurance and procurement. Susan is a qualified chartered accountant with broad experience in accountancy practice and commerce, including property, banking and mortgage finance markets and government-backed small business start-ups.

Susan serves as a co-opted member of the board of Derwent Housing Association.

Richard Hopkin

Richard Hopkin MA (Cantab), FCA

A chartered accountant with 20 years’ commercial experience as finance director and company secretary, following 11 years in the accounting profession with a major international firm. Particular areas of expertise include cost reduction programmes, working capital management, fund raising, growth strategies, acquisitions and disposals, financial controls and risk management. Richard is a non-executive director of Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust and treasurer of Community Foundation for Calderdale.

Recently also provided consultancy services to several organisations in the voluntary sector. Serves on the Derwent Housing Association Board, Audit and Risk Committee and chairs the Governance & Remuneration Committee and the combined Centro Place Investments/Derwent FM Board (the Derwent Living commercial arm).


Melvyn Lunn

Melvyn is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and became a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) on gaining a distinction in the CIH National Certificate in Tenant Participation and Neighbourhood Renewal. He has experience in both the public and private sector, and spent 17 years as a finance director in clothing manufacture and retailing, before running his own accountancy practice from which he recently retired. His current non-executive appointments are:

  • Chair of Berneslai Homes Limited;
  • Board member, National Federations of ALMOs;
  • Board Member and Trustee, Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society;
  • Chair of Joint Independent Audit Committee of South Yorkshire’s Police, Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable;
  • Trustee of South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation;
  • Chair of Priory Campus Limited;
  • Board Member and Trustee, Barnsley Community Build Limited.

Melvyn serves on the board of Derwent Housing Association and is chair of the Audit and Risk Committee. Also a member of the Treasury and Governance & Remuneration Committees, as well as serving on the board of the Derwent Community Housing charitable subsidiary.

Maureen Neal

Maureen Neal

A senior academic and Emeritus Professor, with 20 years in the university sector, with experience in the oversight of estates. Knowledge of the customer experience (students), strategy development, stakeholder relationships, which can be directly applied to the voluntary housing sector. Board member and ex-chair of the board of Derby Citizens Advice and Law Centre (2011). Serves on the board of Derwent Housing Association and its charitable subsidiary, Derwent Community Housing.


Ian Peters

Ian has 30 years’ experience in the financial services and energy sectors, in executive leadership roles. He has led large companies (most recently British Gas) and small, challenger businesses (e.g. Goldfish Bank). Ian is chair of Family Mosaic Housing Association, a non-executive director of Central North West London NHS Foundation Trust, The Floow, Carers UK and also chairs British Gas Services Limited and Employers for Carers.
Ian sits on the board of Derwent Housing Association and its combined subsidiary board, Centro Place Investments/Derwent FM, as well as the Treasury Committee.


Deborah Shackleton CBE

Deborah Shackleton CBE was Chief Executive of a major national housing association until her retirement in 2011. Since then she has had a number of non-executive positions in health, education, culture and housing, and is currently:

  • Chair of Grainger Trust;
  • Chair of Career Connect;
  • Independent audit committee member of Progress Housing Association;
  • Board member of Liverpool Charity and Voluntary Services;
  • Board member of The Housing Finance Corporation.

Deborah serves as a co-opted member of the Derwent Housing Association Board.


Jack Stephen

Jack has worked for the past 35 years as finance director, treasurer and board member of a number of banks, property developers, and commercial and housing organisations. He was finance director of Thames Valley Housing for 21 years. Jack also chaired the social housing sector’s Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) Working Party for a number of years and is presently chair of a homelessness charity.
Jack serves as a co-opted member of the board at Derwent Housing Association and is a member of the Audit & Risk and Treasury Committees.

Role of the board

Derwent Living is governed by a Board comprising members with relevant knowledge and skills, all of whom have an interest in housing and in particular the provision of housing for those in need.

Derwent Living conducts its business through its Board which is legally responsible for the affairs of the company.

The Board and its committees meet regularly to approve matters of policy and take key decisions regarding our activities and finances.

The Board agrees rolling three year strategic plans supported annually by a budget and operating plan. These have clear Key Performance indicators, financial and other measures against which the Board and it’s committees evaluate business performance.

Each year the Board off-site review (‘Away Day’) looks back over the year to see whether performance remained as planned. The new plan is then agreed and performance measures established for the forthcoming year.

The Chair of the Board annually meets Board members individually to discuss their contribution and behaviour at Board and committee meetings. The conversation (appraisal) looks at how they represent the organisation to other stakeholders (as an Ambassador) and how they stay up to date with housing matters and the macro economic, political and regulatory issues (their continuing professional development). Individuals objectives and training needs are agreed. The work of the committees and subsidiaries is evaluated with Committee and Subsidiary Board Chairs at these appraisals.

All Board members agree to aim to attend centrally-organised workshops and training. Some committees may receive specific support, for example Audit and Risk committee may take the advice of auditors. Individual Board members will attend external conferences or seminars to meet their particular interests and development needs.

Key documents

Board Structure

Code of conduct and ethical standards
Board structure

Board and committee terms of reference

Board Terms of Reference
Audit and Risk Committee Terms of Reference
Treasury Committee Terms of Reference
Governance and Remumeration Committee Terms of Reference

Role profiles of the chair and board members

Chairman role profile and spec
Board member role profile and specification
Sample Derwent Living Board contract (27/06/16)
Board/committee customer recruitment policy
Recuitment and Selection to board of management policy

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