The bequest in 1521 by Thomas Dawson of a number tenements established a Charity which continues to adhere to his wish to support the church of St Clement and the poor of the parish. Over the years that giving has broadened into poverty relief through supporting education in all forms. This means in many cases, supporting organisations who are better positioned to target the modern areas of need.

As society has changed, so the needs and delivery of that support has changed. Likewise value of the properties and therefore the responsibility for managing and handling the revenue from them requires many forms of expertise, in a structure that meets the expectation of modern society as to management and stewardship of the Charity's assets.

About The Charity of Thomas Dawson

The current management structure of the Charity of Thomas Dawson comprises:

The Thomas Dawson Charity Oxford

Trustee & Chair

Godfrey Cole, CBE, former Dean of the Law School at the University of Westminster, lectured on subjects including Housing Law, Law of Landlord and Tenant, Family Law and Social Security Law. He was a District Tribunal Judge and subsequently sat as a Deputy District Judge and in the Upper Tribunal. He developed standards that now apply across UK Tribunals, as well as training courses for court and tribunals judges with management responsibilities.



Sheila Hurst has been a Trustee since 2014. Experience of her children’s schooling left her with a passion for education. She has also been a trustee with Seesaw since 2016. Sheila trained as a General Nurse and worked in Emergency Care, moving to Mental Health Nursing where she worked for 30 years. She has also worked at Sobell House as a Volunteer Bereavement Worker and Supervisor of volunteers.

Trustee & Treasurer

Alun Evans BA, MBA, FCA, FRSA, has held a number of senior finance positions in public companies and has served as a trustee for a number of charities, including the Commercial Education Trust and SeeSaw.

Sean WillisNominative Trustee

Sean Willis is a teacher and a member of the Grant Committee, bringing his knowledge of the education system and Oxford schools to support the grant giving and targeting of those most in need of support in education.

Sebastian Johnson Trustee

Sebastian Johnson joined in 2022 bringing a unique set of skills from working in the private, public and voluntary sectors - running his own businesses and in a larger corporate, working for Government funded bodies and running community-based projects in London and Oxfordshire.

Vice Chair

Bob Harris, an electrical engineer and head of RT Harris & Son, has built up experience in the development of various properties, both commercial and residential. As a Rotarian, he recently saw through the building of a school in Zambia. He brings that expertise to bear on the management and development of the Charity's property portfolio.


Phil Gordon is a creative designer and director of Cairn Agency producing communications for clients in print, websites, signage etc. He brings his business experience from his company as well as his media and communications expertise to bear on the Charity.

Trustee & Grant Giving Committee Chair

Mary Briggs is a retired academic who has a professional background in social care and education in both special and mainstream schools as a teacher, deputy, and headteacher spanning over 40 years. She has been involved in teaching and research in the field of education at three different universities. Mary has published 20 books, numerous book chapters and articles. She is currently a governor at a primary school, and a secondary school and also a strategic board member for a maths hub.

Hugh LawtonGeneral Manager

Hugh Lawton worked in corporate treasury and as Finance Director and Managing Director of the offshore funding for a major global financial services company.  He was Treasurer for Christians Together Jersey Housing Trust prior to moving to England.  

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