New chair elected for Trust

23 November 2023


23 November 2023


The SS Great Britain Trust – the charity that runs the multi award-winning museum, visitor attraction and Brunel Institute in Bristol – has announced the election of a new chair and has set out consistent and accomplished interim leadership as they recruit a new chief executive.

New chair elected for SS Great Britain Trust as charity sets out strong leadership team


Matthew Jones joins as a trustee and will take over the role of chair in quarter one 2024 when current chair Jim McKenna’s full term concludes. Jim will maintain an involvement, taking on a subcommittee position to continue his support of the Albion Dockyard Project which will make a crucial contribution to the harbour’s heritage landscape and grow the region’s thriving maritime and tourism economies. Jim said:

“The Trust is in an incredibly strong position building on recent successes and having set out bold plans for the Albion Dockyard Project. I am delighted that trustees have invited me to join the project subcommittee just as these plans are starting to come to fruition. I have valued my time as chair immensely, during this period we have expanded our Future Brunels and educational activities, successfully navigated the many challenges of Covid and subsequently seen the proposals for the Albion Dock come together. With a strong and experienced executive management team jointly led by the Finance Director and Operations Director in the interim, I am pleased to remain part of the team as the board now focuses on recruiting a new chief executive who shares the Trust’s vision.”

Chair-elect, Matthew Jones remarked:

“I am delighted to bring my experience to a diverse and forward-thinking board, joining at this exciting time in the region’s growth and development. The fact that both the previous chair and our deputy chair are extending their involvement with the Trust beyond their incredible contributions in those roles is testament to the organisation’s pace of growth, resilience and ambition. I look forward to working with the board and our leadership team as we recruit an exceptional candidate as new chief executive while enjoying the reassurance of a strong current executive team.”

With a wealth of non-executive board experience as well as key leadership positions, Matthew brings extensive expertise to the SS Great Britain Trust. Over a 30-year career Matthew has played pivotal roles within the global pharmaceutical sector, including as founder member of a renowned UK biotech company. His background includes guiding early and mid-stage founder technology companies as both an investor and mentor. He has overseen complex transformational programmes, also serving as a board observer for several growth-focused healthcare-related spin-out companies. Matthew maintains close relationships with Private Equity and is a special advisor at Vitruvian Partners.

Beyond his professional accomplishments, Matthew is deeply committed to charitable causes and serves as a Magistrate. He has made significant contributions to developing sports opportunities for young people, focusing on principles, values, and ethics. Born and educated in Bristol, Matthew has a passion for the SS Great Britain Trust’s role around inclusion and diversity, and in tackling inequality in access to STEM careers for young people from all backgrounds.

Matthew JonesMatthew Jones, trustee and chair-elect, SS Great Britain Trust

Trustees have also elected that deputy chair, Sam Mullins, will remain in position when his current term is due to end, providing further continuity for the Trust and retaining Sam’s immense expertise and experience on the board. Sam, who recently retired as chief executive of London Transport Museum, and is a historian, writer and presenter, has worked in the heritage sector for many years. Sam commented:

“Brunel’s SS Great Britain is a world-leading museum and heritage attraction, and an outstanding charity, caring for collections and tackling inequality in access to STEM engineering careers. It wasn’t difficult to be persuaded to stay on the board as I am delighted to continue to support our teams with the Albion Dockyard development taking shape as a transformational heritage and STEM education initiative.”

Trustees are overseeing the search for a new chief executive, having set out ambitious goals and an achievable 10-year strategic plan. They are seeking a dynamic and experienced chief executive who will lead the Trust, reflecting the role of the museum in an equal and inclusive society, delivering positive change for the city and beyond, and continuing the legacy of innovation to inspire the next generation of engineers from all backgrounds.