The Board of Trustees is responsible for supervising the management and administration of the charity. The Board meets four times a year, and provides strategic leadership, counsel and advice to the Executive Team. When required, Pilgrims' Friend Society will appoint new members to its Trustee Board.
Chair of trustees
Alan Copeman is a chartered surveyor by profession and has recently retired after many years in the industry. He is a member of Pains Hill Chapel, Oxted and a long-standing member of the Grace Baptist Trust Corporation, where he's served as Deputy Chairman and Chairman.
Married to Jackie they have two adult children. He is committed to the work of Pilgrims' Friend Society where he has served since 1995.
Alan enjoys horse riding and gardening.
Dr. Judy Mclaren
Judy has been a trustee since 2003. Her family has been involved with the Society for many years and she remembers attending fundraising events in her early childhood.
Judy works part-time as a General Practitioner and has a particular interest in the care of the elderly and those with dementia. Knowing the needs of the community in which she works, and then seeing the way that Pilgrims' Friend Society meets such needs in our homes is very rewarding. Our increasing expertise in dementia care is of special importance.
Judy is a member of Westgate Evangelical Free Church, Bury St Edmunds, where her husband Duncan is a deacon. They have three children. Judy has a special interest in our home at Gt Finborough where she chairs the Home Support Group. She has been involved with the home for more than 20 years.
Robin’s first encounter with Pilgrims' Friend Society or Aged Pilgrims' Friend Society as it was known then was in the 1950’s with his involvement with the annual Sales of Work at Horley.
On moving to Wantage in the early 1960’s he joined the newly formed Auxiliary and served on that committee for 45 years, a lot of the time as Chairman. He was involved in the setup of Framland and was a founder member of the Home Committee Chairing that group for a number of years.
He was also involved in the Home Committee of the Bristol home until it closed and was Chairman of Chippenham home for some years prior to his move to Worthing.
Robin has been a trustee since 1985 and is still involved with Shottermill, Chippenham and Wantage homes. There have been a lot of changes in the society since joining all those years ago.
Robin moved to Worthing in 2010 after he retired from running a sign business in Wantage for 17 years. He is an Elder of Worthing Tabernacle and also a Trustee of a stand alone Christian Care Home in Worthing.
He has been married to Margaret for over fifty years and has three married children and eight grandchildren.
Phil comes from Ipswich and worked for Barclays Bank for over 30 years. He now works part time for a renewable energy company.
In 1996 he joined the board of trustees of Ormonde House Trust in Ipswich, who operated a small Christian care home for the elderly. He was Chair of trustees for several years and in that time oversaw the development of the home to increase the number of rooms available. He first had contact with Pilgrims’ Friend Society in 2015, when the future of Ormonde was under review. The two charities agreed to work together to extend the Pilgrims' Friend Society home at Great Finborough, ultimately leading to the closure of Ormonde. Phil is pleased to see the work of Ormonde continuing through Pilgrims' Friend Society and to be able to support the organisation now, as a trustee.
Phil is married and has two children and four grandchildren, all living in Suffolk. Aside from work and Pilgrims' Friend Society, he is an elder with a small brethren fellowship and enjoys DIY and walking.
Max joined the Pilgrims’ Friend Society board in April 2020, having previously been involved with the organisation through some financial consulting on the strategic plan. Through this he became enthusiastic about the charity's work supporting Christians in later life.
Max is Chartered Accountant and spent most of his career working in the financial services sector in a range of senior technology, finance and risk roles. He also worked as a strategy consultant at McKinsey & Co. Prior to retiring in 2018, he was Chief Operating Officer at VisionFund, a global microfinance organisation owned by World Vision, the largest Christian INGO.
Max is married to Judith, and they have two daughters and two grandchildren. They worship at St Peter’s Church, Ightham, where Max is the Treasurer. He is also Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee at Wintershall, which produces plays about the life of Jesus.
Married with one son, Genefer is now retired from a long career in Education (a substantial part as a Head Teacher). Now a member of Cheam Baptist Church, Genefer was brought up by a Baptist Minister father and spent many years in Northern Ireland where she grew her faith.
Genefer first became acquainted with Pilgrims' Friend Society through Milward House, where her mother was a resident for many years. She developed a love and understanding of elderly care through her experience with Milward House, and valued the Christian care that her mother received there. Her vision is to do all she can to support PFS in their aims to make the lives of older people, whether in residential care or in the community, richer and more fruitful.
As well as being a Trustee of Pilgrims' Friend Society, Genefer also sits on the Independent Monitoring Board of High Down Prison in Banstead, Surrey.
John was born in Chippenham and studied Economics and Accounting at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. Graduating in 1983 he trained as a Chartered Accountant with what is now the medium sized West End firm, Alliotts.
Marrying Margaret in 1986, John returned to Wiltshire and worked in accountancy for 18 years. Needing a career-break he briefly worked as a driving instructor, before accountancy clients still wishing for his services persuaded him to start his own company and he continues to serve small business clients and have an increasing interest in charity accounts.
In addition to an inevitable interest in the Society’s accounts, John has a broad overview of the society’s care home operations through the involvement of his family. His mother, Betty, was a member of the Bath and District Auxiliary when funds were being raised for the Bristol and Chippenham homes, became a care worker when the Chippenham home opened in 1974, was a home visitor when she retired and then was a resident, first of the flats and then, as her needs increased of the care home, working her way through self-funding, local authority funding and continuing health care provision. John’s sister is credited with spotting Framland as a suitable property for the Wantage home when it came on the market in the 1980s and worked there as a member of the senior team.
John and Margaret serve in their local Baptist Church, where John is a deacon and Margaret the treasurer. They have two grown up daughters.
Sheila is a Chartered Health and Safety Professional, with a career in credit, project and quality management. In addition she has inspected several care and nursing facilities in Suffolk in her role as a Healthwatch Suffolk Enter and View Authorised Representative.
In 2015 Sheila came into contact with Pilgrims’ Friend Society while a Trustee for a small Christian care home. Since then she has been involved in their vision of providing quality care for older Christians, becoming a Trustee in 2019.
She attends a Christian assembly in Lowestoft and is particularly involved with children’s work through Sunday school and summer camps.
A ‘Man of Kent’, Bryan grew up in Ashford, Kent with strong farming family connections leading to a career in agricultural education and training. This took him initially to Dorset, back to Ashford, then Guildford and Warwickshire where he was Deputy Principal of the College of Agriculture at Moreton Morrell, with responsibility for the curriculum as well as the 1,000 acre farm and estate. Just prior to retirement Bryan spent eight years as CEO for the land-based sector of the NPTC/City & Guilds Awarding Body and charity, based in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire.
Having first visited an elderly Aunt Maud Hoadley in the London Hornsey Rise Home as a small boy, Bryan’s association with the Society goes back a very long way. In adult life, whilst working in Kent and with his wife Gill they ran the Milward Home Young People's Group from its inception, mainly with young people from Union Chapel Bethersden. Bryan & Gill were blessed with four children who are now all married and have produced fourteen grandchildren and two great grandchildren!
Bryan and Gill are founder members, and continue as part of the leadership team at Emmanuel Church Leamington Spa where the Church has been richly blessed under the ministry of Pastor Bill James. Bryan is chair of the Coventry and West Midlands Auxiliary and temporarily the Evington Friends Group. Following the closure of the Wellsborough Home, Bryan takes a particular interest in the Evington Home, Pilgrim Gardens and Dorothea Court.
Andrew Symonds is a widower with three children and seven grandchildren, who has been involved with the Society from a very young age. His earliest memories are of singing in the "wards" at the Brighton Home in the late 1940s in the run up to Christmas. His parents were both involved in the Brighton home - his mother as the Lady Visitor and sometimes committee chair person and his father as the Home committee chairman for a number of years, later a trustee of the Society, where he served for many years.
Andrew's great uncle William Falkner was also a trustee of the Society in the early 1920s and his wife a Lady Visitor in the Camberwell Home.
Andrew himself has been a trustee since 2003 and continue to have an active involvement in the Brighton Home.
Michael is married to Vicky and they have two children and four grandchildren. He retired from his career as a Chartered Town Planner in 2019.
Michael has been involved with Dorothea Court in Bedford since 1996, when he was first invited to lead a Sunday service in the home. In 2004 he became a Trustee of the Dorothea Trust, which previously ran the home, and was instrumental in handing the work over to Pilgrim Homes in 2008. He then became a Trustee of the Society until 2013 and, after a break, rejoined the board at the end of 2019.
Michael supports two churches: Providence Baptist Church in Bedford and a new church work in the Wixams just outside Bedford. He also preaches regularly at other churches and in the open air.
Stephen Hammersley, CBE
Chief Executive since January 2015, Stephen began his career as a mathematician and worked in the banking industry for 17 years. In 2000 he was appointed a director of Tearfund, with responsibility for its use of business as a tool of development, before his move to UK Community Foundations in 2005. Stephen has enjoyed the company of older people from his student days when he was part of a team that led worship in a care home and visited those who were housebound. The loneliness of older people was one of the key priorities that UK Community Foundations addressed latterly through its award-winning "Surviving Winter" campaigns that Stephen co-ordinated.
Stephen worships at Christ Church Harpenden and for many years ran the Crusaders (Urban Saints) youth group in the town. He still helps occasionally but is now part of the team that reaches out to the residents of a local residential care home.
Stephen is married to Susan and they have three grown-up children.
Director of Finance
Debbie joined Pilgrims' Friend Society in June 2020 having spent several years in the financial services sector after qualifying as a chartered accountant with Neville Russell (now Mazars).
Debbie grew up in Kent and, as a student, occasionally worked as a catering assistant at Milward House, Tunbridge Wells, during holidays.
She goes to St Helen's Church, Bishopsgate, London, and sits on the General Synod of the Church of England as a lay representative of the London diocese. She also serves as a Trustee for the Church Pastoral Aid Society.
Debbie cycles to the office from East London and enjoys spending her free time with her niece and nephews.
Director of Marketing & Communications
Alexandra has been at Pilgrims’ Friend Society as Director of Marketing and Communications since September 2019. Previously she was part of the communications team at the Evangelical Alliance having worked for Release International in the supporter relations team. Alexandra has a Masters degree in Democracy and Democratisation from University College London and spent time with the Baptist Missionary Society in Kosovo. Alexandra is part of the leadership team at her church.
Director of operations
Maureen began her career as a student nurse at the Hammersmith hospital in London. After she qualified she specialised in coronary care until she married and moved to Leicestershire, where she worked for a number of years for Leicestershire Health Authority as a Health Education Officer.
When Maureen’s children were very young she led the children’s and young people’s work in her Church in Sileby, Leicestershire. She also worked for a nursing agency which sent her regularly to the Pilgrim Home in Evington, Leicester. The one thing that Maureen never wanted to do was work with older people. God obviously had other ideas and although it took the manager of the home at least a year to persuade Maureen to take a permanent position at the Evington home, she did eventually agree.
Maureen worked for a number of years as a night nurse and when the administrator left she offered to help out with the administration. This eventually became a full time job and a short while later she was offered the Managers post. After managing the Evington home for seven years she was offered the post of Director of Operations, overseeing all the homes. Over the years Maureen has seen the homes through many changes and difficult challenges and is so grateful that she works for a Christian organisation where the work is surrounded by prayer.
Andy Walsh, BA(Arch), DipArch, RIBA
Director of Property Services
Andy is a Chartered Architect having trained at Hull School of Architecture. He is also a qualified Architectural Technologist having completed courses in Building Studies in his home town of Sheffield.
Andy's early career was spent in private architectural practices where he designed, detailed and project managed new builds, extensions and refurbishments of various building types including industrial, offices, retail and housing. Andy then spent 15 years in the leisure industry becoming Company Architect for an organisation that operated over 250 public houses, restaurants and hotels. During this time he gradually specialised in the management of repair and maintenance of older buildings, project management of work within operational buildings and acting as the Client Representative for major building work that necessitated the engagement of an outside design team.
Andy joined the Pilgrims’ Friend Society family in 1996 - a move he firmly believes was in the Lord’s plan for him and looking back he can see how his path has been mapped out to equip him for his current role. He is grateful that within Pilgrims’ Friend Society he has the opportunity to use his experience and knowledge in work that is of the Lord’s leading.
Andy was brought up in a Christian family and gave his life to the Lord whilst a student in Hull. He worships at Christ Church, Dore, the local Anglican church in the village, on the outskirts of Sheffield, where he has lived since 1987.
Director of Human Resources
Josh has been Director of Human Resources at Pilgrims' Friend Society since March 2021, having previously led the HR function for Tasty PLC who operated over 60 casual dining restaurants. Josh has been familiar with the work of Pilgrims' Friend Society due to family and friends who had both worked with and been supporters of the charity. He is delighted to be in a role where he can support our teams in creating environments of love, care, and flourishing. After graduating from Loughborough University Josh volunteered with University Christian College Fellowship (UCCF) for a year on their relay programme, he is part of the leadership team at Christ Church Leyton where he has been a member since 2013. Josh is married with three young children and enjoys playing and watching almost all types of sport!