Meet Our Board of Directors

Nick Swales (Chair)

Nick is the Regional Director for Wealth Manager Rathbones and also brings considerable experience having previously been Chair of The Percy Hedley Foundation and has also served on a number of other charities and trusts in the region and at a national level for nearly 30 years.
Nick became Chair of the Board of the Newcastle Theatre Royal Trust in 2018. 

Julie Blackie

Julie runs a successful group of online businesses, most notably Pink Boutique, which she founded with her daughter.  She has opened a hotel and theatre, run a Saturday School and worked for various charities.  She has extensive experience in youth and community work and managing urban regeneration programmes.

In the past Julie has written for radio, stage and television, including Casualty and Hollyoaks, and published several books including 'The Prodigal' which topped the Amazon crime bestseller list.  She enjoys renovating property, especially listed buildings.
Julie became a Newcastle Theatre Royal trustee in September 2017.

Lorna Edwards

Lorna is a chartered accountant and chartered company secretary with over 10 years of experience in finance and governance.  Lorna trained as an accountant with PwC and UNW in Newcastle, advising clients in the public, private and not for profit sectors before moving to Arriva plc and qualifying as company secretary.   At Arriva, Lorna Chaired the Group’s UK defined contribution pension scheme governance committee well as holding several other Trustee and Director positions.

Lorna has a passion for the performing arts and with a love of dance and musical theatre.
Lorna became a Newcastle Theatre Royal trustee in October 2019.

Scott Holland

Scott is Sales Director at Mediaworks; working with businesses across the UK and internationally he brings considerable Digital Strategy experience to the theatre.  Over the past six years he has advised clients across the legal, retail, fashion, finance and FMCG sectors on Digital Transformation and online growth strategies.
Scott also has a background in Enterprise IT solutions spending 7 years locally with TSG (Technology Service Group), and prior to that extensive experience in Retail Management. 
Originally from Scotland, studying at Aberdeen University,  he has lived in the region for the past 20 years
Scott became a Newcastle Theatre Royal trustee in January 2020.

Ray Mills

Ray is a chartered accountant who spent the first phase of his career at PwC as an adviser to public and private sector clients on regeneration, infrastructure finance and property development. He is currently a non-executive director of several small companies in the music, film production and house building sectors and a trustee of both The Newbridge Project, a charity which provides subsidised studio space for artists in Newcastle and Gateshead, and of the national environmental charity, Keep Britain Tidy.
Ray became a Newcastle Theatre Royal trustee in July 2017.


John Carver (Vice Chair)

John is a Finance Director and who has worked in a wide range of international consumer businesses, including Procter & Gamble, Associated British Foods and the Pentland Group.  He first came to the North East when he went to university in Durham, and worked in Newcastle for a couple of years in the 80s before returning in 2001 to set up Procter & Gamble’s European Service Centre in North Shields.  He has worked from here ever since, providing consultancy to businesses going through change both in the UK and Europe. 
John became a Newcastle Theatre Royal trustee in 2013.

Dr Ben Fletcher-Watson
Ben is an academic and consultant specialising in access and inclusion in the cultural sector. He manages the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh, working with scholars from around the world.  He has published widely on performance for audiences with autism and dementia and the use of new technologies in theatre. His previous career in the arts included building and running a theatre for children, outreach and education work in the North-East, and fundraising for the National Centre for Dance in Edinburgh. He is also a trustee of Starcatchers, Scotland's national arts and early years organisation.
Ben became a Newcastle Theatre Royal trustee in January 2020.

Joan Louw

Joan trained as a chartered accountant with Deloitte Haskins and Sells in Cape Town and has lived and worked in the North East for 22 years. She is the founding director of Agora Bay Limited, a consultancy company providing finance and accounting services to growing businesses and third sector organisations.
Her previous roles include being a Director of Alnwick Garden Enterprises Limited as a Trustee of Queens Hall Arts in Hexham. She is an advisor with Creative United, a London based Arts support organisation that provides innovative business growth programs and membership schemes.
She has a lifelong love of theatre and a longstanding relationship with the Theatre Royal. Prior to becoming an accountant, she pursued an early career as a ballet dancer, training at the Royal Ballet School in London and touring the UK with the Royal Ballet Company as a student – this included dancing at the Theatre Royal in Les Sylphides.
Joan became a Newcastle Theatre Royal trustee in 2013.