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Executive Management Team

Michael Ockwell - Chief Executive and Creative Director Mayflower Theatre & MAST Mayflower Studios

Michael has been Chief Executive of Mayflower Theatre since October 2012 and Creative Director of MAST since its inception in November 2020.  He started as an actor before moving into theatre management when he became House Manager at the London Palladium.  Michael has worked in UK regional theatre since 1999. 

Michael is responsible for the overall strategy of both venues but also oversees the programming of all the productions. 

Michael has produced several regional shows, at Grand Opera House, Belfast he produced Richard Dormer’s award-winning production of Hurricane directed by Rachel O’Riordan and A Night in November by Marie Jones. At Mayflower Theatre he produced the UK Tour of The Santa Trap and Here Be Monsters and was an Associate Producer on Titanic the Musical, Fiddler on the Roof and the UK tour of Beautiful. 

Michael’s passion is offering young people the opportunity to engage in live theatre and he has directed the Mayflower Theatre summer youth productions. He has directed 12 youth productions enabling over 3,000 young people the opportunity to appear on the stages of some of the best regional theatres in the UK. 

Michael is a Member of Dance Consortium, Chair of Tessitura, Board member of Southampton Forward and Chairs several regional cultural forums. He is an avid football fan and a regular attendee at St Mary’s. 

Alison Harrison – Finance Director

Having started her career in the airline industry in Australia, Alison loves working in theatre. She joined Mayflower Theatre in 1995, becoming Finance Director in 2012, and loves the constant change and challenge the role brings. With the inception of MAST Mayflower Studios in 2020 she has enjoyed the additional challenges this has brought to her role. She enjoys a wide range of shows and works hard at making us all embrace the finances! Alison also sits on the Go! Southampton Finance & Scrutiny Committee. Away from theatre Alison enjoys time with her daughter, socialising with friends and family, walking and travelling.  

Matt Goode – Operations Director

Matt’s career spans 25-years across the public, private and charitable sectors. His career started in the in late 90’s with the dawn of new media using his creative design skills and technology advancement in the development of interactive TV and digital web services.

The boom took Matt into the telecoms sector where he specialised in customer acquisition and retention services working in UK, North America and the Netherlands. 

He has spent the last 10-years working in the leisure, entertainment and events sector across multiple contracts and venues. Away from work, Matt is an RFU rugby coach and avid cyclist. 

Robin Hancox – Head of Sales & Marketing

Robin has worked in the arts since 2006 and was previously the Press and Marketing Manager for Mayflower Theatre. Robin is responsible for delivering the overall Marketing and Sales strategy for Mayflower Theatre and MAST Mayflower Studios. When not enjoying his passion for theatre, Robin can be found pounding the streets of Hampshire running at various distances – this does help balance his love of chocolate.

Tasha Finch – Head of Customer Operations

With 30 years of experience in the events and entertainment industry, Tasha has worked for Mayflower since 2003. She leads our Front of House and Events teams in delivering service excellence and providing inspiring customer experiences. Tasha loves the variety and above all the fun theatre brings! 

Patrick O’Sullivan - Head of Creative Learning  

Originally from Tramore, Co. Waterford in Ireland, Patrick has been working in theatre education in the UK since 2004. He qualified with BA Hons Degree in Drama & Performance Studies at Aberystwyth University in 2003 and gained a PGCE from Cardiff University in 2004. He spent 3 years as Performing Arts Lecturer at Longley Park College in Sheffield. Patrick then spent 9 years as the Education & Outreach Manager at Queens Theatre in Hornchurch, where he also held the title as Associate Director, and directed over 20 productions at the venue. He spent 5 years as Head of Creative Learning at Mousetrap Theatre Projects (now Go Live) in London’s West End. He joined Mayflower Theatre & MAST Mayflower Studios as Head of Creative Learning in June 2022. He also runs his own theatre company Two Left Feet Theatre, where he writes and directs musical works for family audiences. 

Emily Nevill – Head of People & Culture  

With a strong background in the People profession, Emily has worked in a wide variety of industries including elite sports and stadium, food poverty charity, global engineering and tech.  A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) with a Masters degree in Human Resource Management.  Emily has a longstanding love of theatre and live events and is proud to be part of the team creating inspiring experiences.

Sara Scott – Executive Director, MAST Mayflower Studios

Sara has had a varied career working in the arts and participation across Theatre, Education, Health and Local Authority sectorsShe has worked for Mayflower for 10 years. Initially developing the Creative Learning work at Mayflower Theatre, Sara is now the Executive Director at MAST, developing the venue as a cultural hub for the city focused on our local community, offering performance, creation, artist development, and participation opportunities for all.

Board of Trustees (Mayflower Theatre Trust)

Paula Claisse (Chair)

Paula is honoured and delighted to chair the prestigious Mayflower Theatre, having supported the theatre for a decade as a trustee and chair of the Audit and Governance committee. A Chartered Accountant and Chartered Tax Adviser, Paula’s career has spanned three decades advising leisure and retail clients across the South, culminating in a decade as partner with KPMG. For her, Mayflower Theatre is a true combination of business and pleasure and she enjoys leading a proactive and dynamic Board supporting a sector leading Executive team. Our community should be proud that, in Mayflower Theatre, Southampton boasts arguably the most successful regional theatre in the UK, with a programme that attracts a diverse audience from across the South of England. 

Having been born and lived most of her life in the city, Paula is passionate about Southampton and social mobility for the youth who reside here. She sees Mayflower Theatre as being at the heart of the community and her involvement the culmination of numerous voluntary initiatives both at home and overseas. Music, choral singing and musical and operatic theatre have always played a big part in her life given her interests in singing and piano. She is married to Matthew and they have two sons who have enjoyed taking part in Mayflower Theatre’s excellent youth productions. 

Nick Vaughan (Vice Chair)

Nick was Senior Partner of Paris Smith LLP Solicitors for  17 years and for the past 30 years, has been acting for charities advising on governance, trustees’ liabilities, fundraising, etc. Nick has been a trustee or governor of City College, Testway Housing (now Aster), Hampshire & Isle of Wight Deaf Association, Friends of St Nicolas; Assistant Governor of Rotary International; Chair of Nuffield Theatre; Chair of the Winchester Hospice Fundraising Charity; Chair of Members of Rosewood School; Governor at St Edward’s Behavioural, Emotional and Special Needs School; Prince’s Trust and of course Mayflower Theatre as chair of its Audit and Governance Committee Chair of the Nominations Committee and is delighted to have been appointed Vice Chair of the Trust. 
Nick has had a love of theatre and music from an early age. He plays the piano, the organ, conducts and sings. Nick is married to Karen and has lived in the local area for most of his life.

Bob Primmer

Bob has been a Board member for many years and takes an active interest in theatre and the arts.  As well as main board activity he is also a Director of Mayflower Enterprises Limited.  He is a Chartered Surveyor, now semi-retired having practiced in Southampton for more than 40 years. 

Living in Wiltshire, Bob is involved with a number of community projects and is Chair of Wilton Men’s Shed, a community workshop.  In his spare time he enjoys live music and is a keen musician/guitarist. 

Kim Romero

Kim Romero joined the Mayflower Theatre Trust’s Board of Directors in June of 2021.  Kim currently works as the Head of Growth for a local software development firm and brings 20+ years of digital marketing and strategic sales consultancy experience to the Board. 

Kim was raised in America on a steady diet of musical theatre – one of her favourite memories is seeing Michael Crawford as the Phantom of the Opera when she was a teenager – and continues to attend as many shows as possible, occasionally accompanied by one or both of her children. She has lived on the South Coast for over fourteen years and loves traveling and going for long walks in the New Forest and South Downs. 

Shaun Pantling

Shaun has been a Director of Mayflower Theatre for 7 years and is also the Chair of the theatre’s trading company Mayflower Enterprises Ltd. Prior to retirement, Shaun was the President of European Large Enterprises for Xerox Corporation. Now retired and living in East Dorset, Shaun spends his time motorcycling, sailing and playing golf.

Rachel Hall

Rachel is Client Delivery Director at dragonfish – an award-winning culture consultancy that partners with leaders in ambitious brands seeking to transform their organisation’s performance through culture change and employee engagement. Prior to joining dragonfish, Rachel was CEO for 4 years of £5m turnover Southampton charity City Catering, leading and supporting 250 employees to keep the city’s children and vulnerable adults fed in tough times. Rachel’s passion is for organisational transformation – unlocking the power of people. She is an International Coaching Federation accredited coach and has a background in consultancy and leadership stretching back to the late 90s. Rachel is a Fellow at the RSA (the royal society for the encouragement of arts, manufactures and commerce).

Dawn Fowler-Stevens

As a Director with many years’ experience in both Executive and Non-Executive roles within a regulatory environment, Dawn has first-hand knowledge of the responsibilities required of company boards. This includes not only technical skills in the areas of governance, audit, risk management, internal controls and strategic development, but also the interpersonal skills to objectively assess, challenge, analyse and support. 

Dawn has a career spanning 25 years across the public and private sectors.  In addition, Dawn’s areas of expertise include the creation of value through growth, group structure establishment and corporate structure consolidation.  Dawn has also served as a board director of a specialist care provider and currently holds other executive directorships within Aster Group where she has executive responsibility for strategy, growth and assurance, as well as being a Non-Executive Director on the Board of a housing association.  Previous experience has included providing support to social housing providers and local authorities focusing on: governance, organisational change, strategic partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, as well as, project management consultancy. Dawn is a member of the Chartered Management Institute, the Institute of Business Administrators and ICSA: the governance institute. 

Dawn’s interest in the theatre dates back to her pre-teen years when she was an enthusiastic member of various amateur dramatic societies.  She has a particular love of musicals and is a regular at Mayflower Theatre, where she hasn’t missed a festive season pantomime with her family in years. 

Sam Sargant

Sam is the General Manager at The Old Vic theatre in London, where he has worked for 7 yearsPrior to that, Sam worked in the West End on commercial large-scale musicals and plays for an independent producing and general management company, Playful Productions, running productions such as Wicked and Kinky BootsSam has always worked in theatre and has held roles at theatres such as the Watermill Theatre, The Gate – Notting Hill, Rose Theatre Kingston, Act Productions & National Youth Music TheatreA graduate of Southampton University and King’s College London, Sam is a keen sportsman, an associate member of the MCC and liveryman of the Merchant Taylors’ Company. 

Guy Allison

Guy has lived and worked in the area for many years, through careers in both the Royal Navy and with the UK’s largest air traffic control services provider, NATS, where his current role is as Director of Corporate StrategyHe has now settled in Alresford where he lives with his wife, daughter and their family labradoodleGuy has an MSc in Air Transport Management from City, University of London, and, additionally, has recently graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science with for an Executive MSc in Social Business and EntrepreneurshipGuy’s love of theatre and the arts began at an early age and he is extremely honoured to support the ongoing success of Mayflower Theatre. 

Helen Downey (Company Secretary)

Helen has a corporate and charity background, working in financial services, people management, coaching, operations, and governanceHelen has a passion for theatre and live music, stemming from her first visit to Mayflower Theatre as a child to see the pantomimeIn her spare time, she loves to spend with her family, watch shows, and travel.   

Board of Trustees (Mayflower Academy Limited)

Michael Wright (Chair)

Michael was appointed Chair of MAST in September 2023. His career was in media as Managing Director of Newsquest Dorset publishers of the Daily Echo and Dorset EchoA past president of Dorset Chamber of Commerce he was also Chair of BHLive charitable trust for 11 years and Executive Chair of Hampshire Fare for 12 yearsHe is committed to making the trust an artistic, cultural and commercial success working with the Executive Team and his fellow Trustees. He enjoys walking, playing golf and watching football as an avid Wolves fan! 

Roger Harrison (Vice Chair)

Roger is delighted to be supporting an ambitious team dedicated to bringing the power and magic of theatre -and special experiences in the arts more generally- to everyone in our community. 

He was a senior executive and HR consultant with IBM here and in Europe, America and Africa for more than 25 years and since then has led a number of organisations in the not-for-profit sector.  For example, in 2017, he helped secure NPO status for Havant’s Spring Arts and Heritage Centre for the first time as well as earlier winning the top, national, NCVO award for outstanding Governance against tough competition from bigger household names.  

Currently, as Vice Chairman of the New Park independent arts cinema in Chichester, Roger is part of a leadership team promoting greater involvement in regional communities and implementing effective processes for financial/audit control, human resource management and audience development.  

Other recent activities have included three years as Chairman of Agamemnon Housing Association based in Portsmouth, four years as Vice Chairman of Relate South West Hampshire in Eastleigh and a decade of leading several board committees at Rowans Hospice in Purbrook.

Lisa Mitchell

Lisa has been a trustee of MAST since 2021.  
She was once a member of the National Youth Theatre, an opportunity which she came to realise too few from her background get to experience.   
She is now particularly interested in widening participation in arts and culture and ensuring young people have the opportunity to access a high-quality arts education through the curriculum.  

Shaun Pantling

In addition to serving on the Board of Trustees at Mayflower Theatre Trust, Shaun has more recently taken up a role on the board of MAST Mayflower Studios.

Shaun is an enthusiastic supporter of the arts particularly musical theatre, enjoying immensely the super shows presented by Mayflower Theatre and now additionally MAST Mayflower Studios.

Sandeep Sesodia

Sandeep is the CEO at Parity Trust. He is an experienced professional with a background in Corporate Banking and finance with 40 years’ experience.  He continues to be actively involved in the business community and has previously been a non-executive Director of the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce; Chair, Southampton Chamber of Commerce; Director, The New Forest Business Partnership, and Chair Southampton Connect (Partnership of Public Sector, Private Sector and Third Sector organisations), as Chair. He is currently the President of Highcliffe Rotary Club. In addition, he volunteers as a Vice Patron of the QE2 Activity Centre (for people of all ages with special needs) and as a Vice President of Bournemouth Cricket Club.  
Prior to becoming a Member of Mayflower Theatre and subsequently a Trustee / Director, Mayflower Academy Ltd, Sandeep has been working with both theatres and promoting their support of our local communities. This work particularly resonated with him because of its diverse and inclusive reach to local people and businesses. MAST additionally provides opportunities to smaller production companies as well as providing help and guidance to students interested in a career in the arts / theatre. The latter has enabled him to champion MAST through his volunteering roles at The Careers & Enterprise Company (Solent Partners) and as a Governor at Highcliffe School.

Paul Hewitt

Paul Hewitt is a creative director and writer. Currently Global Creative Director at Deliveroo. Prior to that, Paul spent nearly five years at Google as Creative Director. Alongside his commercial work, Paul is an award-winning writer of plays TV and film. He was included in 2016’s Hospital Club 100, a list of the most creative and innovative persons of the year. 

Paul lived in Southampton for five years, where he worked as a playwright. During this time, he wrote Nude – which was performed as a part of the Southampton Literary Festival in a shipping container in Guildhall Square, as well as works for Nuffield Southampton Theatres and Forest Forge.

Jill Low

Jill has worked in and is passionate about community arts, performing arts and arts centres.  Her career began as a drama teacher and then she ran a mime company before specialising in running youth arts and street theatre festivals. She became Programming Co-ordinator at the Gantry Arts Centre, Southampton and ran the Artswork Youth Arts Festival before becoming the Director of Forest Arts Centre, New Milton (HCC) for four years turning it from a Drama Education Centre into a Community Arts Centre and then went onto to become Director and Chief Executive of Salisbury Arts Centre for 14 years.  At Salisbury Jill was instrumental in gaining large Revenue and Capital funding for the programming, regeneration, repair and development of the Arts Centre and in doing so saving it from closure. 
Since leaving arts centres, Jill has worked for Southampton City Council as Project Manager of the Capital Project to create the Arts Centre that MAST is now running as well as the art gallery and video resource next door for John Hansard Gallery, University of Southampton and City Eye. Jill is now retired although she works at Glastonbury Festival each year crewing for the Cabaret area as well as taking an active interest in theatre, dance, circus and youth arts.  

Harriet McBoyle

Harriett joined the MAST Mayflower Studios board of Trustees in 2022 and is very excited to be a part of a fantastic team. 

Harriett is a Chartered Accountant, working as an audit manager for KPMG, covering a range of clients in various industries. Having spent several years on the other side of board meetings, she was very keen to get involved as a Trustee for MAST. 

Harriett has had a passion for the theatre and music from a young age, learning the piano and clarinet. Although not an actress herself, she loves attending any shows be it large broadways, or local dance programs, although musicals are her favourite.  
When Harriett is not working, you’ll find her horse riding across the New Forest or out on her paddleboard. 

Paul Swindale

Paul Swindale is a highly respected academic and educator. He has worked in education for over 20 years, having previously worked in various roles within the educational sector including as a college Principal in the Further Education sector and now for a multinational Edtech business. Having trained as a Musician at the University of Southampton, Paul went on to lead Outstanding Performing Arts provision in Southampton including extensive partnership work with local creative industry partners. 
Alongside a busy working life, Paul has chaired the board of the Southampton and Isle of Wight Music Hub for 4 years and is active locally in the orchestral music scene, as a conductor, violinist and occasional percussionist.

Helen Downey (Company Secretary)

Helen has a corporate and charity background, working in financial services, people management, coaching, operations, and governanceHelen has a passion for theatre and live music, stemming from her first visit to Mayflower Theatre as a child to see the pantomimeIn her spare time, she loves to spend with her family, watch shows, and travel.   

Board Members

Isobel Gatward, President 
David Chisnall 
Stephen & Philip Daniells 
Urszula Derejko-Cooper 
Alison Farrell 
John Hannides 
Malcolm Le Bas 
Colin Lewis 
Lindsey Noble 
Tim Prentki 
Mike Smith 
Christine Taylor