Patrons & Ambassadors

Read about County Durham Community Foundation's Patrons and ambassadors:

Alasdair MacConachie - Patron

Alasdair MacConachie, OBE DL HonDBA FRSA is a Patron of County Durham Community Foundation and his company (Sherwoods) also have an Endowment Fund which feeds into our Community Action grant making pot.

Alasdair is the Managing Director of the Sherwoods Group a main GM dealer that has been in business for 85 years.

Alasdair is very active in the local community. He is Chairman of St Teresa's Hospice, Darlington, the Chairman of Darlington College and Chairman of Durham School. Alasdair gives a great deal of support to the Forces and is the Chairman of the Independent Advisory Panel for the Infantry Training Centre at Catterick. He regards his chairmanship of the Darlington Partnership as one of his most exciting community challenges.

Alasdair was given the Freedom of the Borough of Darlington in 2012, is a past High Sheriff, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration from the Teesside University and received an OBE in 2004.

Alasdair MacConachie - Patron

“Since moving to the area as a young boy, Darlington has become my place of work and most importantly my home. I feel very passionately about my community and couldn’t think of a better way to help improve its vitality than at the grassroots level. County Durham Community Foundation is making a real impact in our area and I am behind them 100%.”

Harry Banks OBE DL - Patron

Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive of the Banks Group

Harry Banks OBE DL - Patron

Harry Banks founded the Banks Group (as H J Banks and Company Limited) at Tow Law in County Durham, in 1976 to carry on the business of surface coal mining. The business has since operated and restored more than 110 surface mines and currently employs more than 400 people across the North of England and Scotland.

The group added property development businesses in England and Scotland to its mining activities in the late 1980s and the development and operation of onshore wind farms in 2005.

The business is still headquartered in County Durham with offices at Hamilton and Chesterfield. The group continues to be a family business and Harry Banks remains chairman and chief executive.

Harry Banks was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (FRICS) in 1982.

He was appointed an OBE in 2001 for services to the UK coal industry and local communities and he was appointed deputy lieutenant of County Durham in 2002

Mark I'Anson

Since selling his own NASDAQ listed company IMP which was based in Derwentside, Mark has become involved in a range of economic development activities in the region. Mark has been Chairman of County Durham Community Foundation since 2008 and also holds a family fund with us.

Mark I'Anson

"I first became involved with the foundation as a donor. I wanted to give something back to the Derwentside community, the community where my business was based and which helped me a great deal in the development of my career. Through this I then became involved with the running of the organisation."

Lisa Shaw - Ambassador

Lisa Shaw is a established radio presenter, and a true County Durham girl. She was born in Shotley Bridge and has lived and worked in our region her whole life.

Lisa believes that one of the many privileges that comes with the job of radio presenter is being able to do her bit for the many fantastic charities around the North East. She was therefore thrilled when she was asked to become an ambassador for County Durham Community Foundation.

Lisa Shaw - Ambassador

"It's an honour to be asked to be an ambassador for such a worthwhile and essential charity which works hard to make a real difference to the lives of people in County Durham. Having seen what the Community Foundation has done and continues to do for those who live in an area so close to my heart, the decision to say yes to the opportunity was an easy one.

"I intend to support CDCF and its work in whatever way possible, and hopefully help in some way to seeing it fulfil its true potential within County Durham and the North East."

Professor Sir John Burn - Ambassador

Professor of Clinical Genetics, Newcastle University.

''Sir John was knighted in the 2010 New Year’s Honours list for services to Medicine and Healthcare.

He was born and raised in North East England and attended Newcastle University Medical School.  In 1973 he was awarded a first class honours degree in Medical Science after an intercalated year in Human Genetics.  After qualifying, he completed medical and paediatric rotations before being appointed Clinical Scientific Officer at the MRC Clinical Genetics Unit in London.  As honorary senior registrar at the Hospital for Sick Children Great Ormond Street he completed training as a clinical geneticist and became the first specialist in the field in the North East in 1984!

He became the first Professor of Clinical Genetics in 1991, and along with a number of colleague Proffesor's, developed a research institute which achieved the highest national research ratings. 

He conceived and helped bring fruition to the Millennium Landmark, Centre for Life in Newcastle, opened by the Queen in 2000.

From 2002-7 he was Public Orator for Newcastle University. Extensive media involvement included being scientific advisor and participant in the BBC/Discovery series How to Build a Human in 2001.

He became Director of the Institute of Human Genetics (IHG) from 2005-10.

In 2008 he was appointed chair of the newly created Clinical Genetics Specialty Group of the National Institute of Health Research.  In 2009 he became Director of the national Collaborative group on Genetics in Healthcare and Lead Clinician for the NHS in the North East of England.  In 2010 he was appointed to chair the Innovation strand of the new UK Human Genomics Steering Group.''


Professor Sir John Burn - Ambassador


Mike Weston - Ambassador

''Mike Weston played for England 29 times between 1960 and 1968, captaining the side five times, firstly on their 1963 tour of Australia and then in his final two matches five years later.

A good all-round sportsman, he played Minor Counties cricket for Durham before they gained first-class status - his sons Phil and Robin both played county cricket - but his main sport was always rugby. A centre, although five of his caps came as a fly-half, he was picked for the Lions tours of South Africa in 1962 and Australia and New Zealand in 1966. He played in all four matches in South Africa but only two Australia Tests on his second tour. His last international hurrah was on England\'s tour of Canada in the autumn of 1968.

He retired in December 1968, yet he remained active in the game, as a national selector and manager, taking charge of the England side at the first World Cup in 1987.''

Mike Weston - Ambassador