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Executive Team Biographies

Below are the biographies of the members of the Executive Team.

Duncan Wilson black and white photo

Mr Duncan Wilson OBE

Chief Executive

Roles and responsibilities
Duncan became Chief Executive of the newly formed Historic England in May 2015.

Previous experience
Duncan joined Historic England from the Alexandra Park and Palace Trust where he was Chief Executive from 2011 to 2015. From 2002 Duncan was Chief Executive of the Greenwich Foundation for the Old Royal Naval College, and before that Director of the Somerset House Trust.

Duncan’s first job as a chartered accountant in 1987 was as Senior Management Accountant at English Heritage. Before accountancy he worked as a professional archaeologist in Oxford and Herefordshire, following post graduate research in European Archaeology.

External roles
Duncan is a trustee of the Churches Conservation Trust (from 2008) and was a trustee of the Royal Armouries (2007-2011) and a community governor of Corelli College in Greenwich (2004-2007).

Sarah Aston - Black and white photo

Ms Sarah Aston

Director of Human Resources

Roles and responsibilities
Sarah has overall responsibility for Human Resources, Facilities and Office Estates. Her team provide a full operational and specialist HR service (including Internal Communications) to both Historic England and the English Heritage Trust, through a Shared Service Agreement. Sarah’s Facilities team provide a customer focused service at the two main headquarters of both Historic England and the EHT (London and Swindon) and the Office Estates team support our 10 local offices across England.

Previous experience
Sarah joined Historic England (formerly English Heritage) in 2005 as Human Resources Director.

Prior to joining the public sector, Sarah held director positions in both the private and not for profit sectors. She spent the earlier part of her career in senior operations roles in retail (Marks and Spencer and Next) and was then an operations director in various parts of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group for 13 years which is where she moved into HR. Immediately before joining English Heritage, Sarah was Assistant Director: HR Strategy and Policy with the National Trust for three years in a time of major change. This was the fulfilment of a long held ambition as she has been a life member since she was 12!

External roles
Sarah served as a senior trustee of a major UK wildlife charity for several years but currently has no external roles.

Black and white image of Roger Bowdler

Dr Roger Bowdler

Director of Listing

Roles and Responsibilities
Roger leads the Listing Group at Historic England. This advises the government on all heritage designations, such as listed buildings, scheduled archaeological sites and protected wrecks. His colleagues also look after the national heritage data holdings, including the National Heritage List for England.

Previous Experience
Roger joined Historic England (formerly English Heritage) in 1989, and has worked as an historian and a listing inspector. An art historian by training, he took up his present position in 2011.

External Roles
Roger sits on several heritage-related bodies, including Salisbury Cathedral’s Fabric Advisory Committee, and the Mausolea and Monuments Trust.

Mike Harlow

Mr Mike Harlow

Corporate Secretary

Roles and responsibilities
Mike is the Corporate Secretary with responsibility for regulatory and general legal advice, governance and risk management.  

Previous experience
Mike first qualified as a mechanical engineer and worked for a while at Rolls Royce. He then retrained as a solicitor and for fifteen years worked in London acting for large property investors and developers.

Mike then joined English Heritage in 2007 and has since been involved in legislative and policy changes in heritage protection, high-profile planning inquiries and the new model demerger of the organisation into Historic England and English Heritage.

External role
Mike has been a trustee of social welfare and heritage trusts, but outside of work his sole role currently is to serve his twin daughters.

Black and white image of Meryl Hayward

Ms Meryl Hayward

Director of Finance and IMT

Roles and responsibilities
Meryl has overall responsibility for Finance, Procurement and Information Management and Technology within Historic England. The departments provide shared services to the English Heritage Trust.

Previous experience
Meryl is a Chartered Public Finance Accountant and holds an MBA.

Meryl joined Historic England (formerly English Heritage) in 2009 as Finance and Procurement Director.

Meryl has experience of working in both the private and public sector. Previously she has held senior finance roles in the NHS and in Non Departmental Public Bodies. Her last role before joining English Heritage was as Chief Accountant for the Natural Environment Research Council.

External roles
Meryl also sits on the Economic and Social Research Council’s Audit Committee as well as the Natural Environment Research Council Audit and Risk Assurance Committee sub group on Governance.

Deborah Lamb black and white photo

Ms Deborah Lamb

Director of Engagement

Roles and responsibilities
Deborah’s role is to make the case for England’s heritage and Historic England to government, other organisations and the public. She has overall responsibility for Government Advice, Communications, Publishing and the Historic England Archive. Through the Governance and Legal team she ensures that Historic England’s decisions are well-informed and clearly explained.

Previous experience
Deborah joined Historic England (formerly English Heritage) in 2002 as Director of Policy and Communications. Prior to that, Deborah worked in the Civil Service developing policies on equalities and sustainable development. Her last role before joining English Heritage was as Deputy Director of the Women and Equalities Unit.

External roles
Deborah is a member of the British Academy’s Public Policy Committee.

Celia Richardson

Ms Celia Richardson

Communications and Marketing Director

Roles and responsibilities
Celia oversees the communications work of Historic England - covering media, marketing, websites, campaigns and exhibitions. Her main role is to help people outside the organisation get involved and enjoy England’s spectacular historic environment

Previous experience
Celia joined Historic England (formerly English Heritage) in 2015. 
Prior to that, Celia has held senior communications positions in charities and Non Departmental Public Bodies. Her last role before joining Historic England was Director of the Social Economy Alliance, a group of more than 200 NGOs, Universities and sustainable businesses working together to inform cross-party policy development for the 2015 General Election.

External roles
She is a Trustee of Locality.

Chris Smith

Mr Chris Smith OBE

Director of Planning

Roles and responsibilities
Chris has overall responsibility for 13 teams, based across England, who advise owners, planners and councillors on how to care for historic places, landscapes and buildings so that they will have a secure and productive future.

Previous experience
Chris joined Historic England (formerly English Heritage) in 1994 as Historic Areas Adviser in the South West. He had various senior posts before becoming a member of Executive Board in 2013. Before Historic England, Chris was a Conservation Officer in the North East and Bristol. He also worked in the voluntary sector as Director of a project in the Stroud Valleys, where he still lives.

External roles
Chris currently has no external roles.

Black and white image of Steve Trow

Mr Steve Trow

Director of Research

Roles and responsibilities
Steve leads the Research Group within Historic England, which is responsible for improving care, understanding and public enjoyment of the historic environment through applied research and development, expert advice and training.

Previous experience
Steve is an archaeologist with research interests in the Roman period. He joined English Heritage in 1987 and has worked as an Ancient Monuments Inspector; been responsible for the archaeological site listing programme in the south of England; and led the development of rural and environmental aspects of heritage policy. Before that, Steve worked at The British Museum and the Museum of London.

External roles
Steve is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and a Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists.

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