Sir John Staples Society and Patrons

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

The Leathersellers' have supported charitable works and education in Lewisham in particular since 1652. Sir John Staples was Master of the Leathersellers' Company and Lord Mayor of London in 1885-86 when the Leathersellers' Company decided to fund a new School in Lewisham with donation of land. This was Prendergast School, now over 130 years old, founded in 1890, thereby fulfilling the dying wish in 1888 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. This formed the nucleus of the Leathersellers' support for state education in Lewisham.

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.

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 - Alderman Gregory Jones KC

Gregory served as a Foundation Governor on the Leathersellers' Federation of Schools 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 and 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.

The Sir John Staples 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 CBE
Margaret is a lawyer of over thirty years standing and is Chair of Shakespeare’s Globe.

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

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.

Margaret Casely-Hayford

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 led a range of research projects funded by EPSRC, AHRC, EU and Wellcome as well as Internal Funding bodies. Mark is also a renowned jazz pianist.

Prof Mark d'Inverno

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.

Vicky Foxcroft MP

The Honourable Mr Justice Hilliard
Appointed to the high court in 2019, the Hon Mr Justice Nicholas Hilliard was a tenant at 6 Kings Bench Walk from 1992-2012 and Treasury Counsel at the Central Criminal Court. Sir Nicholas took Silk in 2008. A Senior Circuit Judge since 2012 he became Recorder of Greenwich in 2013, Common Serjeant of London 2013 and was Recorder of London from 2015-2019.

Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC

Her Honour Judge Sarah Munro KC
Her Honour Judge Sarah Belinda McLeod Munro KC was appointed by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales to be a Circuit Judge at the Central Criminal Court with effect from 3 May 2017. Sarah was called to the Bar (I) in 1984 and took Silk in 2002. She was appointed as an Assistant Recorder in 1998, as a Recorder in 2000 and as a Circuit Judge in 2011.

Sarah Munro QC

Topsy Ojo
Topsy is fast establishing himself as one of the most popular new names in sports broadcasting. He played rugby professionally for London Irish for 16 years, retiring in 2019 having scored the most tries and made the most appearances in the clubs history. He also earned 2 caps for England, scoring twice on his debut against New Zealand. He is now an established commentator and pundit, appearing regularly on TNT Sports and Amazon Prime. He also features prominently on ITV as co-host of the Gallagher Premiership Highlights Show alongside their domestic, European and Rugby World Cup coverage. He is a trustee for the London Irish Foundation, as well as being a school sports coach, mentor and owner of his own pop-up, The 301 bar.

Topsy ojo sjss patron

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. Melly has been nominated on Broadway for four Olivier and and six Tony awards including Best Director.

Melly Still