The WEA is a charity, with a single body of Trustees which is responsible for all aspects of governance. The WEA's twelve trustees are collectively and individually responsible for the management of the WEA's assets and resources at all levels.

The WEA's Trustee body is made up of:

• Four National Officers

• Three representatives from the WEA's Regions in England.

• One representative from WEA Scotland.

• Four externally co-opted Trustees


WEA Trustees

John Widdowson Chair of Trustees
Lynne Smith  President & National Officer
Cliff Allum Treasurer & National Officer
Lindsay Pearson Deputy President & National Officer
Marc Sherland Deputy President & National Officer
Michael Crilly WEA English Regional Representative
Robin Cook WEA English Regional Representative
Peter Threadkell WEA English Regional Representative
Marion Flett WEA Scotland Representative
Narinder Uppal Externally co-opted Trustee
Jon Gamble Externally co-opted Trustee
Geoff Layer Externally co-opted Trustee


Download the Governing Document of the WEA.


WEA Council

The WEA Council is the key forum linking communication and governance within and across the Association. Its purpose is to practically demonstrate the democracy of the WEA particularly between Conferences.

The Council is made up of two representatives from each English Region (3 from Scotland), including the Regional Chair/Scottish Convenor. The Trustees are represented on the Council by the President and one other Association Officer. The President takes the Chair. There are 5 additional places available to represent work outside the branch programme or particular groups of members and two staff representatives can attend.

The main activity of the Council meeting is considering issues raised by members, volunteers, staff and students across the WEA including regional committees and affiliated organisations but ensuring the views of all (including minority voices) are heard.

The Council is able to make recommendations to the Trustees on policy and strategy.

To contact WEA Council with any issues you wish to raise, please email

WEA Patrons

The WEA’s three patrons bring top-level political expertise from each of Britain’s main national political parties.

Sir Bob Russell is the former Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester.

Elected in 1997, Bob was a member of the Liberal Democrat Defence Team, a Party Whip, a former Sports Spokesperson for the Party, and a long-serving member of the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Bob is a strong supporter of adult learning and the WEA, and has close links with our branch in Colchester. He is also a keen local historian, environmentalist and road safety campaigner.

He was educated in Colchester at Myland Primary School, St Helena Secondary Modern School for Boys, and the North-East Essex Technical College. He is a journalist by profession and is the first resident of Colchester for more than 100 years to represent the town in Parliament.

Gillian Shephard, Baroness Shephard of Northwold

Gillian Shephard was born in Norfolk where she still lives. After reading Modern Languages at Oxford, she became an education officer and then a county councillor in her native county. She lectured for the WEA from 1965 to 1987.

She was elected to Parliament as the Conservative MP for South West Norfolk in 1987. Two years later, she became Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Social Security.  In 1990, when John Major became Prime Minister, she became Minister of State at the Treasury, the first woman to hold that post. In 1992, she entered the Major Cabinet as Secretary of State for Employment and Britain’s first Minister for Women’s Issues.

Three more Cabinet posts followed Agriculture, Education and Education and Employment.  She became a peer in 2005 and has served as Chairman of the Association of Conservative Peers, on the Lords Reform Select Committee, and on the Social Care Select Committee.

She was awarded the Legion d’Honneur in 2009. She holds honorary fellowships at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, Queen Mary University of London, and the Royal Veterinary College, and is a former president of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association.

She has written four books, two devoted to politics, and two to a social history of her village birthplace, written in collaboration with fifty people with whom she was at primary school.

She has two stepsons and five grandchildren and lives with her husband in mid-Norfolk.

Stephen Twigg is the current Labour Co-operative MP for Liverpool West Derby

Stephen is a former Minister for Schools and was the Shadow Education Minister under Ed Miliband.

Stephen previously served as MP for Enfield Southgate, during which time he worked has the Minister of State for School Standards, while his work outside parliament has included high profile positions at the Foreign Policy Centre, the Holocaust Centre and the Aegis Trust.

Stephen was educated at Southgate comprehensive and became the first pupil from the school to obtain a place at Oxford University.