Nicholas Alston CBE DL


Nick Alston became Chair of ECF in November 2018. In 2012, Nick was elected as the first Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, a role which gave him an insight into the vital role of the voluntary sector. He chairs a research institute at Anglia Ruskin University, is a Non-Executive Director both of a local NHS Trust and the National Crime Agency.

Clare Ball


Clare is now retired from the City after a long career at both HSBC and Portigon AG in London. She has relationship management experience and more recently specialised in credit and risk in the non-bank financial institutions sector. She has a range of trustee experience having acted for many years as a trustee for her employer’s final salary scheme. Clare has been volunteering with ECF since 2012 giving her time and experience as a co-opted member of the Finance and Investment Committee. She joined the Board as a Trustee in 2014.

Charles Bishop


Charles joined the ECF Board of Trustees in 2018 and has a strong background in finance operations, the money and gilt-edged markets, property, HR, governance and administration. He was a founding partner at Fair-lead Partners, a corporate finance boutique and held a number of senior positions at Cazenove, including Partner, Managing Director and Chief Administrative Officer.

Gemma Cartwright


Gemma has worked for over 15 years in the voluntary sector, both internationally and more recently within smaller, local organisations. She is a member of the institute of fundraising and holds a Masters in International Development. Gemma’s experience is grounded in working with small and medium voluntary sector organisations to maximise their full potential. She is highly active within the sector in Southend, both through her work and as a volunteer.

Gail Cunningham


Gail is Head of Investment Learning at the Association of Charitable Foundations, whose 400 members hold assets of around £50bn and give over £2.5bn annually. Gail previously worked for youth and arts charities, and for the foundation of a global financial services company, leading activity within the UK, Europe and Canada.

Vivienne Depledge


Vivienne has an in-depth understanding of the voluntary sector, having been CEO of Dementia Adventure, a charity that supports people with dementia and their families and before that, CEO of Beacon House, an organisation that helps people in Colchester who are homeless. She is now CEO for Circle Housing and Support, a charity that provides accommodation and support for vulnerable people.

Simon Hall MBE DL


Simon qualified as a solicitor in 1979 and trained with the international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer where he was a partner from 1985 to 2014. He was head of their Finance Practice, and was head of their global corporate responsibilities programmes. Simon was High Sheriff of Essex for 2017-2018.

Sandra Hollis


Sandra joined the board in 2016. She graduated from Durham University in modern languages and holds a Master’s degree in Marketing. Sandra has held a number of strategic business development and marketing roles, including responsibility for global relationships with the world’s largest banks and brokers. She also held senior positions at Anglia Ruskin University and was appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor.

Ben Minter


Ben is a Portfolio Manager at Cazenove Capital, specialising in running multi-asset investment portfolios for charities, having worked on the team since graduating from university in 2009. He is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Skinners and has served therein as a committee member of the Lawrence Atwell’s Charity. Ben currently mentors students via the Social Mobility Foundation and has an active interest in environmental sustainability and conservation within farming.

Claire Read

Company Secretary 

Claire Read is a partner at Birkett Long Solicitors where she leads the Personal Tax, Trusts and Probate team. Claire is also chairman of the Essex Branch of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners. She is an active member of the Essex Chamber of Commerce and is the honorary solicitor for the Mid-Essex Hospitals Charities Foundation.

Jo Wells


Jo is the Director of the Blagrave Trust. She has more than 20 years of experience in the voluntary sector both internationally and in the UK, covering programme development, donor engagement, strategy, grantmaking and research.