Sir John Staples Society

The Sir John Staples Society was established in the Federation by the Governors of the Leathersellers' Federation of Schools.

Sir John Staples was Lord Mayor of London and the Master of the Leathersellers' Company when it funded the setting up of Prendergast School in 1890 thereby fulfilling the dying wish of Dr Joseph Prendergast [former headmaster of Colfe's School (also run by the Leathersellers)] that girls as well as boys should receive an education. Prendergast School is 125 years old and formed the nucleus of the Leathersellers' support for state education in Lewisham. The Leathersellers' have supported charitable works and education in Lewisham in particular since 1562.

The aim of the Society is to create a body across the Leathersellers’ Federation of Schools for those students aged 14-18.  Its function is to foster amongst the students an interest in the arts, music, commerce, politics, religion and science by facilitating events such as talks, cultural events, debates, discussions, visits etc. It will act to develop social mobility by providing opportunities and access which will be developed through the Federation’s outreach to Russell Group Universities. We will increase the number of ‘disadvantaged pupils’ (DfE Categorisation) gaining places in such Universities. Governors are anxious that it builds on the excellent good work done in schools in musicianship, debating, performance, public speaking and media production.

Young students will be involved in introducing and meeting guest speakers and performers, and in reporting and publicising events, and participating in the activities themselves. This will help in the development of the students’ social skills and confidence as well as socially and spiritually enriching them. An intended outcome is that the Society will play a part in helping students secure future employment and in enhancing university and further/higher education opportunities.

The Society will serve to promote the Federation ethos across the individual schools and reinforce the schools links with the City of London in general and the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers' in particular.

David Blunkett The Inaugural launch of the Sir John Staples Society took place on 28th February 2017 and was opened by Lord Blunkett who gave an address to students, parents and guests. The event was held at Prendergast School and was a great success.

President of the Sir John Staples Society

Gregory Jones QC

Gregory Jones QC

Gregory Jones QC served as a Foundation Governor on the Leathersellers’ Federation Governing Board until January 2018 and then as an Associate Governor until January 2019. Gregory attended Pelham Road Primary School, Bexleyheath, passing the 11 plus before going on to Colfe’s School (Exhibitioner). He studied law at New College, Oxford and University College, London. Called to the bar in 1991, he took silk in 2011. Gregory practices from Francis Taylor Building, Temple where he specialises in planning, environmental and EU law.  He lives in Lewisham. His daughters were born in Lewisham Hospital. Gregory is a liveryman of the Leathersellers’ and Butchers’ Companies and is the elected Alderman for the City of London ward of Farringdon Without. He is also on the Governing House Council of St Stephen’s House, Oxford University.

Patrons of the Sir John Staples Society

The Society has attracted high profile Patrons:


Sharon Ament

Sharon Ament is Director of the Museum of London, which in 2015 announced its ambition to build a new museum for London and move to a new site in West Smithfield.

Since joining the Museum in 2012, Sharon has been steering the next phase of the organisation’s development to more fulsomely reflect the energy and dynamism of London itself. In recent years, the Museum of London has achieved a record 1 million+ visitors, helped along by extremely successful exhibitions including; Fire! Fire!, The Cheapside Hoard, The Crime Museum Uncovered, and Tunnel: the Archaeology of Crossrail, engaged more school children than ever and acquired its largest object, the Heatherwick Olympic Cauldron from the London 2012 Games.

Formerly Director of Public Engagement at the Natural History Museum for 12 years, as well as Chairing the Exhibition Road Cultural Group. Sharon is committed to creative partnerships that bring enduring public benefit. She has been a trustee of the Wildscreen Trust and the International Wildlife Film Festival; and was a founder of the conservation charity 21st Century Tiger. Sharon was previously Vice-President of Ecsite - the European Network for Science Centres and Museums - and in June 2016 returned to Chair the Jury of the annual Mariano Gago Ecsite Awards.


Margaret Casely-Hayford

Margaret Casely-Hayford

Margaret Casely-Hayford was appointed Chair of international development Charity ActionAid UK., in 2014. She was elected to the Board of the Co-op in May 2016; and in June 2016 was appointed a Trustee on the Board of the Radcliffe Music Foundation.

The former Legal Director for the John Lewis Partnership, Margaret is a lawyer of over thirty years standing.

She retired from executive roles in 2014 and now advises young entrepreneurs, organisations on governance and individuals embarking upon board careers. Promoting board diversity, she’s a Board Apprentice ambassador. She’s Patron of the Sir John Staples Society, which fosters an interest in arts, music, commerce, religion and politics in students between 14 and 18; and is Chair of the Advisory Board of Ultra Education, which teaches entrepreneurial skills to primary school children.

(Previous appointments include 2012-2016 - Government appointed non-executive director of NHS England; and appointment to the Board of the British Retail Consortium. From 2000-2008- government appointed trustee of Great Ormond St Children's Hospital Charity, and the Geffrye Museum.)

In 2014 Margaret was named by the Black British Business Awards as Business Person of the Year. In 2016 Margaret was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Business Faculty of Middlesex University.


Prof Mark d'Inverno

Professor Mark d'Inverno

Mark d’Inverno is Professor of Computer Science and Pro-Warden (International)  at  Goldsmiths, University of London. He was Pro-Warden Research and Enterprise from 2013 to 2016, and Head of the Department of Computing from 2007 to 2011. He holds an MA in Mathematics and an MSc in Computation from the University of Oxford, and a PhD from University College London entitled “Agents, Agency and Autonomy”.

He has published around 200 articles including authored and edited books, book chapters, and refereed conference and journal articles. He has also has led a range of research projects funded by EPSRC, AHRC, EU and Wellcome as well as International Funding bodies.

He is also a renowned jazz pianist.


Bishop of Woolwich

Bishop of Woolwich

Dr Karowei Dorgu was ordained Deacon in 1995 and Priest in 1996.  His curacy was at St Mark, Tollington Park followed in1998 to building the community of faith at St John, Upper Holloway, before being consecrated Bishop of Woolwich in 2017.

Born and brought up in Nigeria, Dr Dorgu worked as a medical doctor before ordination. He has a deep concern for mission and regularly led open-air evangelism in his parish which saw his church grow remarkably. His post-graduate theological research is in Missiology and is keen about sharing the good news of Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. 

He was a Prebendary of St Paul’s Cathedral before his appointment as Bishop of Woolwich.  He was involved in the life of the Church Primary School in the parish where he had been Chair of Governors and supported staff and pupils. He is married to Mosun who is a Consultant Child Psychiatrist.

His interests include personal fitness, reading and cooking for others. He enjoys travel and discovering new places and cultures. He plays tennis, cycles and visits the gym. He is a keen supporter of Arsenal Football Club.


Vicky Foxcroft MP

Vicky Foxcroft MP

Vicky Foxcroft has been the Member of Parliament for Lewisham Deptford since May 2015. Since being elected, much of Vicky’s constituency work has focused on issues surrounding young people in Lewisham Deptford. In 2016, following the murder of five young people in the constituency, Vicky established the Youth Violence Commission, a cross-party group set up to examine the root causes of youth violence.

Prior to her election, Vicky was a local councillor for the Brockley ward (2010-2014) and spent 13 years working in various roles for Unite. As a councillor she played a leading role in the campaign to save A&E and maternity services at University Hospital Lewisham.

Vicky was born in Chorley, Lancashire and studied performing arts at college. She has lived in Brockley and Deptford since 2000.



Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC

His Honour Judge
Nicholas Hilliard QC
Recorder of London (the Senior Judge at the Old Bailey).
His Honour Judge Nicholas Richard Maybury Hilliard QC is a British judge who was the 80th Common Serjeant of London, an ancient and senior legal post at the Old Bailey second only to that of the Recorder of London.                                                            


Melly Still

Melly Still

Director, choreographer, designer and adaptor for many companies including the National Theatre of Great Britain (Coram Boy), the Royal Shakespeare Company (Shakespeare's Cymbeline), the Glyndebourne Festival Opera. Tremendous success most recently with the epic tetralogy of Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante, Mr Brilliant Friend, at the Rose Theatre. Nominated on Broadway for four Olivier and and six Tony awards including Best Director.