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More about John


John writes…

If I have a vocation, then it has been developed through lifelong involvement in education and volunteering. What I want to do is to help individuals and organisations to realise their potential – to become all that they can become. I want to leave this world a little better than I found it, to paraphrase the final message of Lord Baden-Powell.

My experiences, skills and passions have brought me to concentrate on three broad areas:
Responsibility: – because socially responsible people, working in partnership with civil society, can create a most innovative and powerful force for social change.
Diversity: Tackling discrimination and prejudice, especially involving young people (particularly around sexual orientation, but also on grounds of race. ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, age, religion and disability.)
Education: Helping to improve people’s life chances by ensuring that they get the chance to learn what they really need to learn, whether in school or less formal situations, from teachers, leaders and mentors who are properly trained and supported.

What I try to do is to work on these three themes with organisations in each of the public, private and not-for-profit sectors – and especially through public-private-community partnerships which manage to bring all three together.

I do it through a mix of:

  • My professional career, (formerly as a teacher, headteacher, not-for-profit director and now at Cats Protection, where I am the Chief Executive.
  • Communications (speaking and writing / media)
  • Chairmanships / committee work.

Nowadays, I am particularly looking to do things which:

  • Will have the greatest possible impact – spreading expertise and good ideas / practice so that successful projects can be taken to scale (because I am growing impatient in my middle-age to have more impact and to make a difference).
  • Will play to my particular mix of passions / skills / experiences – especially, the ability to promote partnership; to enthuse and motivate; to build teams for achieving a cause; to think outside conventional boxes.
  • Will help me to continue to learn and to get fresh ideas / insights / experience and skills.
  • Will enable me to work in eclectic, committed, and inspiring networks / teams where we can have fun.


  • Respect for others – a development of the Golden Rule of all the world’s great religions – not so much “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, but “do unto others as they would have you do unto them.”
  • Equity – fairness and honesty in all my dealings
  • To do my best – “if a thing’s worth doing it is worth’s doing properly” – and accepting, therefore, that sometimes I have to say ‘no’ to things, because over commitment can lead to mediocrity.
  • Integrity: keeping my promises; respecting confidences – When I was eight years old, my mum introduced me to Polonius’s exhortation to his son in Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
  • Carpe diem – (seize the day) – both in the sense of Kipling’s “fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run” and in the sense of constantly going outside of the comfort zone to gain new insights and experiences.
  • Self-confidence, but a self-awareness that mitigates against self-importance
  • A youthful, playful, joyful, perpetual curiosity
  • Balance: trying not to be too intense or too earnest or over-demanding of others

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