Trustees and Staff

J Anthony (Tony) Ford OBE (Chair)

Tony has been a trustee of Idlewild Trust since 2000 and Chair since 2009. After some years practising as a solicitor he moved into arts administration as the Director of Space Studios and the Art Information Registry. He later joined the Crafts Council and became Director in 1988. Since he retired he has continued to take an active interest in the fine arts and crafts but also in the theatre, music and film.

Nancy Bell (Deputy Chair)

Nancy joined as Deputy Chair in November 2021. Nancy Bell has worked in the heritage sector for over twenty years, as a conservator and collection care manager for archives, libraries and museums including The Oxford Conservation Consortium, The National Archives, UK and The National Records Administration, USA, and currently The National Trust. In recognition of her services to heritage and environmental management she was awarded the Plowden Medal in 2015. She has served as a Trustee for several organisations including Wikimedia UK and held positions on advisory boards for grant awarding organisations. She is a committed ambassador for the cultural sector, believing the arts, and heritage can change lives and build communities. When not at her desk, she enjoys the creativity and challenge of gardening.

James Brooke Turner (Trustee)

James has been a trustee since November 2021. James has been responsible for investments at the Nuffield Foundation, a £500m grant making charity in the field of Social Research, for 20 years, now part-time alongside running a small business promoting good investment governance for charities. He studied at the Courtauld Institute (History of European Art) and subsequently at Birkbeck (Medieval Culture) and investment management at Yale and London Business School. He was one of Anthony Gormley’s 4th Plinth sculptures and has a love of opera, cold water swimming and of learning to draw.

Serena Davies (Trustee)

Serena has been a trustee since November 2021. Serena Davies is an arts editor and journalist with 20 years’ experience of covering UK culture. She is currently Director of Culture and Events at the Telegraph. She has also experienced life on the inside of an arts organisation, having previously been Head of Press and PR at Glyndebourne Opera House. Her particular interests are in visual art, opera and theatre.

John Gittens (Trustee)

John has been a trustee since 2012. After 20 years practising as a solicitor in South London he was appointed a District Judge in 1992, assisting, latterly, in the training, appraisal and mentoring of newly appointed County Court district judges until his retirement in 2012. He has a longstanding interest in history and the arts, particularly music and theatre. In 1999/2000 he was a member of the opera panel of the Laurence Olivier Awards scheme and currently works as a volunteer on various projects at Kew National Archives. He has also been active in local planning and related issues and liaising with the local authority from time to time on behalf of his local amenity society.

Helen McCabe (Trustee)

Helen has been a trustee since 2009.  After a career in teaching and publishing in London, she moved to Cornwall, where she served as a governor of Falmouth College of Art (now University College, Falmouth) from 2000-2008 and as Honorary Treasurer to the Friends Committee of International Musicians Seminar, Prussia Cove.  Author of 'Houses and Gardens of Cornwall', she has lectured extensively throughout Britain on English and French architecture.  She has a strong interest in old buildings, chamber music, ballet and 20th-21st century British art.

Dr Tessa Murdoch (Trustee)

Tessa has been a trustee since 2007. Tessa has forty years’ experience at the Museum of London and the Victoria and Albert Museum and is currently V&A Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Research Curator. She has curated exhibitions on furniture, jewellery and silver and contributed to the Museum of London's exhibitions on The Huguenots, V&A’s British and European, Sacred Silver and Gilbert Galleries. She is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, a trustee of the Huguenot Museum and external adviser to Apollo Magazine and the Silver Society.  Her forthcoming book Europe Divided: Huguenot Refugee Art and Culture completed as Getty Rothschild Fellow in 2019 will be published by the V&A in November 2021. 

Rachael Williams (Trustee due to be appointed from May 2022)

Rachael will be joining as a trustee in May 2022. Rachael is currently Chief Executive of Streetwise Opera, an arts organisation working with the homeless sector to empower people to realise their creative potential. Prior to this, Rachael was Executive Director and Joint CEO of Park Theatre, Executive Director for theatre company Improbable, and has also worked at the Gate Theatre Notting Hill, English National Opera and Oxfordshire based outdoor theatre company Creation Theatre. Rachael was previously Chair of the Board for Metta Theatre and is currently a Trustee of the National Centre for Circus Arts and The Running Charity. 

Other information


Idlewild Trust is managed by our part-time Director, Eleanor McGrath. Eleanor was most recently Head of Grants at Art Fund (National Art Collections Fund) and has held previous roles at National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, The National Trust and Christie's. Alongside her work with the Idlewild Trust, Eleanor is also studying for her MBA degree at the University Oxford as a Linbury Scholar alongside other research, volunteering and governance roles. 

Eleanor can be contacted on