Sonia Coode-Adams MBE

Trustee's 2016 small Jpeg05Since 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

Dr Noorzaman Rashid MBA, BA (Hons)


Trustee's 2016 small Jpeg06MD Strategies for Change, a network of consultancy businesses. Noorzaman has previously worked for ATKearney, EDS, BNB Resources and Harvey Nash Group. Founder of a Multi Academy Trust and Chair of the NHS Institute’s World wide business, he is currently Master of the Worshipful Company of Mangement Consultants and Adviser to several HR and tech businesses.

Guy Armitage

Trustee's 2016 small Jpeg03Founder 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 winner of the Tate Digital Art Hackathon.

Helen Organ

Trustee's 2016 small Jpeg07Helen Organ is the Company Secretary and Legal Counsel at Sue Ryder, a national charity with hospices and neurological care homes where she has worked for nearly 10 years.  Helen Organ has a degree in Philosophy and qualified as a solicitor in 1991.  She specialised in Company and Commercial law and has worked in-house following a brief period in private practice in both England and New Zealand. Helen spent over 5 years as a trustee at Ipswich Housing Action Group (IHAG).  She describes herself as a ‘lawyer with integrity.’


Jayne Knowles

Trustee's 2016 small Jpeg08Associate Dean of Wimbledon College of Arts, part of 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 practicing artist and has her studio at Cuckoo Farm Studios, in North Colchester. She is committed to developing the arts in Colchester.

Nicky Johnston

Trustee's 2016 small Jpeg09Nicky has lived and worked in Colchester since 1971, first coming to the area to study Art History at Essex University.  She taught Art & Design at Colchester Sixth Form College since it was established in 1987, subsequently becoming Head of Art, Design & Technology.  Nicky’s support, interest and promotion of the arts is many sided – as a teacher and  a student, as both audience and participant. Now retired, she continues to offer student support and to engage in her own practice.

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

Trustee's 2016 small Jpeg02Ranil 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.

Robert Surman FCA

Trustee's 2016 small Jpeg01Director of Mightdo Limited a Business Development consultancy and acts as a Non-Executive Director for 3 companies operating in the UK and overseas, as well as developing trading business on FX markets. Previously, a Partner with Kingston Smith LLP for over 30 years and left in April 2016.

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 a major UK European and US International banks.

Cllr Tim Young

Colchester Borough Council 

Trustee's 2016 small Jpeg11Tim 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 Leader of the Council.

Outside of Colchester Borough Council, Tim is Chair of Colne Housing and a Non-Executive Director of Southend Hospital Trust.

Julia Obasa

Trustee's 2016 Small Jpeg17A 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 is a hands on business consultany.

Charlotte Winters

Trustee's 2016 Small Jpeg19Charlotte 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.


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.

Meet our team.