Grahame Wright grew up in South Shields. After a career in musical instrument sales and marketing he studied economics at Newcastle Polytechnic and Cambridge University. Following a period of teaching he moved to the University of Abertay in Dundee as Head of Economics, Accountancy & Law before being appointed Deputy Principal and later Pro Vice Chancellor and Professor of International Business. Having returned to South Shields and retired from the University he became a member of the Customs House Board taking a special interest in its Learning & Participation activities and Finance. He was elected Chairman of the Board in 2016. Grahame performs in an amateur musical Trio and has written music for a number of Customs House Community Productions.
Shirley is retired and has been a trustee of the Customs House for 9 years whislt being involved with the organisation since the mid 90’s due to her previous role as Head of Development at the Arts Council England, North East office.Prior to working at the Arts Council, Shirley was initially a volunteer for the Pre-School Playgroups Association for several years and then took on the paid role as Regional Administrator. Her role there and at the Arts Council confirmed Shirley’s belief that the arts can play a major role in the development of young people and that the Customs House is an organisation which delivers this to a very high standard. ‘‘It is an organisation I am particularly proud to be associated with’’
Paul is Chairman of the Leighton Group, the set of technology, software, media and communications businesses he founded, whose clients include British Airways, the BBC, Sony, IKEA, Nike, Levis, Sage, Panasonic and Virgin Atlantic. From its HQ at Rainton Bridge, Sunderland, it operates globally with offices in London, Washington DC, Seattle, Paris, Singapore and Sydney.
Until June 2012 Paul was Chairman of ONE North East and Chair of Chairs of all of England’s Regional Development Agencies. He is currently Chair of the Sunderland Economic Leadership Board, of the University of Sunderland, of Red House Academy, of Live Theatre and the Newcastle Gateshead Initiative. He also sits on the Boards of the Northern Education Trust, the Sunderland Cultural Partnership and Sunderland Culture Ltd. Paul helped formed the Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture Trust in 2013 and is developing a cultural quarter in the city centre. This will include a new auditorium for music, dance and performance and the conversion of a number of Edwardian buildings for cultural and artistic use. Born and educated in Sunderland Paul trained as a economist and has a first degree in Economics from the LSE, a Masters degree in Management and Education from Newcastle University and a further Masters degree in Finance and Economics from the University of Salford and has written several books on Business, Economics and Information.
Carol was born in the north east and has lived and worked here for much of her life; in Performing Arts at South Tyneside College, the BBC, Creative Industries Business Development at Teesside University, and back to the BBC where she now works part time. Carol also works in the Media Studies Department at Newcastle University, writes, performs in plays and music groups, give talks, and run creative writing and lit crit workshops.
Why I serve: Where else in the country could you join fifty people to hear a lecture on George Orwell, meet 20 musicians for a morning of music, visit the theatre for the launch a new play, enjoy coffee and a scone in the Green Room, stroll around the gallery, bump into a world famous screen writer, book tickets for a panto selling out fast? And that’s all in one week. This is what The Customs House does for me, and I want to help keep it alive.
David lives in Gateshead and works in South Tyneside (Hebburn), so, as a lover of most forms of live performance the Customs House is very relevant to him. For many years he has regularly attended performances with family, friends and grandchildren.
In 2016 David became a Trustee, bringing his wealth of knowledge and experience with him having ran his own manufacturing business since 1976 aswell as his experience as a Chartered Accountant.
Richard has a BA (hons) in Combined Arts and is a member of the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity. He has 28 years local government experience with South Tyneside Council and has managed sports and leisure as well as parks and open space. He is currently Culture & Libraries Manager and has responsibility for events and festivals in South Tyneside.
Alan has worked in Local Government for over 26 years. He is currently (2016) Deputy Leader of the Council and a member of the Cabinet. His interests include health matters, education, the aspirations and interests of young people, the care and treatment of older people.
Lisa’s career in the marketing industry began at Harrods in Knightsbridge and included the job of Assistant Director of Marketing at the 1990 National Garden Festival at Gateshead, as well as working with leading marketing agencies on many well-known campaigns on a world-wide basis. Lisa has also worked with local authorities and the regional development agency One NorthEast on economic development for the region.She has played a key role in promoting the North East’s assets and business in her career over three decades, including managing several well-known marketing campaigns that have gained world-wide recognition – not least the award-winning “Passionate People Passionate Places” campaign.
Lisa’s role as Head of Marketing and Communications at the Port of Tyne included supporting the development of the new opportunities presented by renewable energy as well as growth across the Port’s bulk cargoes, car terminals, logistics, estates and cruise and ferry businesses.
Lisa is now working as an independent marketing consultant and joined the Board in 2016.
Simon was born and raised in South Shields attending Mortimer Road primary school and the Grammar School and went on to study Economics at Manchester University before returning to the North East where he completed training to qualify as an accountant in Newcastle. After qualifying he moved to London where over the next 35 years he held numerous roles in both finance and general management for companies mainly involved in the food sector.
Simon always held a long term plan to retire back to the North East as it was an ambition to give time and experience back to support local establishments. Simon stated: ‘’TCH is a special place, contributing so much to the arts in South Tyneside as well as providing enjoyment to a great many people. Both my parents had a love for the theatre , my mother as an enthusiastic member of the Westovians and my father as a writer, and although the artistic genes were not passed down to me it is wonderful to be able to participate in the operation and long term development of TCH as a Board Trustee’’.
Graeme is Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Sunderland where he is responsible for engagement and culture – including the National Glass Centre and the new Sunderland Culture Company. He chairs the Arts Council-funded community arts project The Cultural Spring as well as the steering group for Sunderland’s City of Culture 2021 Bid, and is also Chair for the International Group of the North East Cultural Partnership and the Royal Television Society Education Committee in London.
Before joining the University in 2009, Graeme was managing director of ITV Tyne Tees and Border having also spent time as Head of News and Director of Broadcasting. He came to ITV as a news editor in 1989 after working as a reporter, producer and newsreader for BBC Radio where his credits included Womans Hour, You & Yours and the World Service.
Graeme was born in South Shields and is married with three grown up children. For more than a decade Graeme has been writing the Customs House pantomime in partnership with Ray Spencer.