Board of Director biographies

Find out more about our Board of Directors' roles, background and experience.

David Webster

Chairman of the board
Headshot of David Webster

David became a Director of the Society in May 2019 and was elected Chairman of the Board in June 2020. Having spent 27 years in the mutual building society, latterly as CEO of Hanley Economic Building Society. David chose a career switch in 2016 to become CEO of Douglas MacMillan Hospice in Stoke on Trent. His current role is to oversee the strategic development of one of the UKs largest independent hospices, founded in 1973 and now responsible for the palliative care of around 3,000 patients each year.

David is a former Treasurer at Keele University, a former Chairman of the Building Societies Association, and in 2011 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Staffordshire University.

Age: 63

Jane Nelson

Chief Executive Officer/Secretary of the Order/Executive Director

Headshot of Jane Nelson

Jane joined the Society in 1995 as Financial Controller and joined the Board of Directors in May 2000 after being appointed as Secretary of the Order. In October 2007, she became the Society’s Finance Director. She was appointed as Chief Executive Officer in July 2012 after being appointed as Acting CEO in March 2012.

Qualifying as an Accountant in 1991, she is a Fellow of both the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants as well as the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. Prior to joining the Society, Jane worked in a variety of Finance roles in the industrial sector thus gaining a wide range of experiences. She has been a member of the Institute of Directors (IoD) for 10 years and during 2011, studied for and took the exams for the Certificate level and Diploma level of the Chartered Director examinations, both of which she passed with distinction.

In 2011, she was also awarded the IoD’s Institute prize for outstanding performance in the diploma examinations after achieving the highest examination score in the UK.

She was appointed to the Association of Financial Mutuals (AFM) Board in July 2013, the AFM being the trade body that represents Friendly Societies and Mutual Insurers and she was heavily involved in 2015 in the reforming of the new AFM which is aimed on focussing on the needs, aims and challenges of the small and medium sized Mutuals. She served as its Vice Chair from January 2016, and at the AFM Conference and AGM held in October 2019, she was elected as Chair of the AFM Board, a position she still holds today.

In December 2020, she was appointed as a member of the Finance and Investment Committee of The Natasha Allergy Research Foundation, a UK charity looking to help and cure people with allergies. Its main purpose being to fund and support pioneering allergy research bringing the greatest scientific minds together, working for treatments and better medicine.

She has been involved with the Manchester Unity Housing Association and the MU Pension Scheme since 1995 and has served as Company Secretary to both these organisations since 1998. She served on the Board and as Treasurer of the Manchester Unity Credit Union from 2000-2008 relinquishing the post of Treasurer in September 2012. Within the Society, Jane is an active member of the Combermere District Lodge serving as Provincial Grand Master (Prov GM) in 2003 and again in 2010, and has served on the Committee of Management for over 20 years and as a Trustee since November 2003. Jane is a keen reader and traveller (now she can, post-Covid) and enjoys spending time with her family including her four grandchildren.

Age: 56

David Ogden

Grand MasterHeadshot of David Ogden

David was enrolled into his District’s Juvenile Lodge at birth and subsequently initiated into the Loyal Fleetwood Lodge No 1992 on 30 November 1965. He passed through the Chairs of the Lodge and then the District, serving as Provincial Grand Master in 1978. He has served on the District Committee of Management for 24 years, 15 of them as a Trustee.

He holds the CAMU qualification and served on the LADGC Executive for 11 years, seven of them as Secretary, and subsequently 14 years as Honorary Auditor. He served six years on the Investigation Committee, four of them as Chairman. Prior to his election as a Member Nominated Non-Executive Director in 2017, he was a Unity Special Arbitrator. He was elected Deputy Grand Master at the 2019 AMC in his home town of Southport, and was elected Grand Master at the electronic 2021 AMC.

Outside of the Oddfellows, he was a Divisional Superintendent in the St John Ambulance and a Regional Group Chairman of the British Junior Chamber.

David worked in domestic banking for 26 years prior to taking voluntary redundancy. He then worked for his local authority in European projects prior to moving to the role of Business Support Manager in the Youth Offending Team on its inception in 2000. David is now retired and enjoys spending time with his wife, two children and seven grandchildren.

Age: 72

Barbara Needham

DEPUTY GRAND MASTERHeadshot of Barbara Needham

Barbara joined the Society in 1973 when she married Peter, a third generation Oddfellow. She was then a member of the Good Samaritan Lodge in Goole. Her father-in-law was Secretary at that time and Barbara took this job over in 1996, a position she held until the formation of the Vale of York District Lodge in 1998. She had previously been the Secretary of four different Lodges in the District from 1981, and saw them successfully amalgamate into the Good Samaritan Lodge.

She is now the Assistant Secretary of the Vale of York District Lodge, and as well as being the administrator of grants etc, assists in the preparation of the Accounts for the Auditor, and runs a variety of clubs and activities for the District Lodge.

She took her Purple Degree in 1980 and was Prov GM of the former York and Scarborough District in 1983, 1984 and again of the District Lodge in 2015. She has served on the District Committee of Management for 39 years.

Barbara has served on the Group Conference Executive for 10 years, five of them as Secretary, a position she still holds. She has also been the AMC Secretary twice at Scarborough.

Outside of the Oddfellows, Barbara is a retired Head Teacher of an Infant School having been in teaching all her working life. She has a variety of qualifications in education (including National Professional Qualification for Headship) and was responsible for running the school including budgets, policies, allocating resources and staff effectively for the benefit of 130 pupils. She enjoys photography, the outdoors, and socialising with her family and friends.

Age: 69

David Randall

IMMEDIATE PAST Grand MasterHeadshot of David Randall

David attended social functions for a number of years before joining and he was then enrolled into the Society by his father-in-law in 1992 where he attended the Castle Branch in Colchester.

Due to work commitments he didn’t become active until the early 2000s holding the Office of Noble Grand in 2007. He joined the District Committee of Management as a Trustee in 2008, a position he still holds and was Provincial Grand Master in 2011. David became Financial Branch Secretary of Gipping Branch Stowmarket in 2008, a post he holds today.

He was a member of East Anglian Group Conference Executive Committee for seven years becoming its President in 2015-2016. He retired from work in 2015 and was elected to the Board in 2016 and served as Grand Master for two years (2019-2021).

David become the Secretary of the East Anglian Group Conference in June 2021.

He is a time served apprentice carpenter and joiner working in the construction industry for 47 years, holding a number of senior project management positions and ran his own Building Management and Safety company for 10 years. He is a past member of the Federation of Small Businesses and an Associate to the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

David was in the Scouts for 18 years and was awarded the Queens Scout Award in 1969. He held the position of Assistant Air Scout Leader for four years and then Venture Scout leader for five years. He was Secretary and Treasurer of a local Sunday league football team for 18 years.

Age: 71

Tony Luckett

Member Non-executive DirectorHeadshot of Anthony Luckett

Tony joined the Society in 1994 after a recommendation from an active Lodge friend. He took an active part from the beginning, joining his wife and two children during the next five months. Nieces and nephews, along with his grandson have also been made members of the Society.

Tony became interested in all aspects of his local Branch and has served in all Lodge positions. He took the purple Degree in 1999 and has been Provincial Grand Master three times. He has been a District Trustee since 1997 and was awarded the District Merit Jewel in 2008.

He served on the Midland Group Conference Executive for five years, including serving as Vice President in 2009, President in 2010 and Past President in 2011. During this time, he was elected to serve as a Unity Special Arbitrator (2007) and the following year, in 2008, he was elected to the Benevolence Committee, on which he served four years, two of those years being Vice Chairman. Tony was elected to the Board in May 2012 and was elected Grand Master of the Order at the 2017 AMC. He was appointed Chairman of the Remuneration Committee in
2018 and Senior Independent Director (SID) incorporating Whistleblowing Champion for the period June 2019 to June 2021 inclusive.

Tony is self-employed and has been for over 38 years and runs his own small building company, employing three people. Tony’s company is a Member of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), as was his father’s and grandfather’s companies before him and is registered with Trust Mark and Build Assured (Warranty Builder). He sits as the local Branch Chairman of the FMB for the third time, served from 2010 to 2014 as the Chairman of the Midlands Regional Council for the FMB, and served as the Midlands Regional Vice President 2010- 2014.

In April 2014, the Midland Regional Council along with other restructuring changed its name to Central Area Board and Tony was unanimously elected as its first President in April 2014 and was subsequently re-elected in June 2015 and April 2016 for a third term of office, and is now serving his third term as Past President.

He also served as a Director from 2004-2016 of the Manchester Unity Credit Union Ltd, serving as its President for six years. During 2018, he was elected a Director of Oddfellows Support Services Ltd and as a Trustee of the M U Pension Scheme, becoming Chairman in 2019.

Age: 62

John Mann

Member Non-executive DirectorHeadshot of John Mann

John has also served as a Lodge Secretary for both the Pride of Bermondsey Lodge in the South London District, and the Combermere Lodge in Stockport, where he served on the Lodge and District Committees of Management, represented Stockport once at AMC, was Prov GM and attended various LADGC meetings.

John also served three years on the Benevolence Committee and holds the CAMU qualification. Outside of the Oddfellows, John worked for 27 years as a Pollution Control Officer with the local Water Authority, as well as various jobs ranging from working for Stockport County F.C. and Sale Sharks R.F.C., to being a taxi driver.

At the onset of the pandemic, John was furloughed from his job as a taxi driver, and eventually accepted redundancy. John is now retired and enjoys spending time with his three daughters and seven grandchildren.

Age: 70

Debbie Jex

MEMBER NON-EXECUTIVE DIRECTORHeadshot of Debra Jex

Debbie joined the Society as a Junior member of the Royal County Lodge in 1973 and later became the Lodge’s Noble Grand, as well as Noble Grand of the Reading Abbey Lodge following their amalgamation.

From 1993 until 2015, Debbie was Thames and Kennet Lodge’s Financial Secretary and she continues to be a member of its Committee of Management, as well as supporting the Lodge’s members as a volunteer Welfare Visitor.

In March 2015, Debbie became Reading District’s Prov CS after having worked part time in the District office since 2009. She became the District’s Provincial Grand Master in 2010, following a family tradition as her father held the same office in 1997, her mother in 1999 and her sister in 2011.

Since 2003, she has also been Secretary of the Jubilee Social Lodge.

Wider involvement in the Society has included her election on to the Southern Group Conference Executive Committee in 2013, where she was its President in 2019 and 2020, serving two years due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Debbie was elected on to the Benevolence Committee in 2014 for eight years, becoming Chairman in 2018. She was elected as a Member Nominated Non-Executive Director in 2022.

Debbie received a CAMU qualification in 1996, passing with Distinction, her Purple Degree in 1999, and in 2019 she was awarded both District and Lodge Merit Jewels.

Outside of the Society, she enjoys spending time with her family and five grandchildren, socialising with friends, gardening and bowling.

Age: 61

Dr Karen Rose

MEMBER NON-EXECUTIVE DIRECTORHeadshot of Dr Karen Rose

Karen attended the University of Leeds where she gained a BSc degree and PhD in Chemistry. She then worked for 10 years as a Forensic Specialist in Gunshot Residue for the Forensic Science Service (2002 to 2012). Her main role was reporting complex casework and providing witness testimony in criminal courts throughout England. Following redundancy in 2012, Karen volunteered for a charity, Imago Community, before becoming employed as the Finance Assistant and later Hub Manager where she managed the staff and work on the Young Carers and Care Navigator helplines.

Karen joined the Oddfellows in 2007, when she took over as joint Social Secretary of the Earl of Cottenham Lodge, part of the Tunbridge Wells District Lodge, when her father retired after over 60 years of service. Both Karen’s grandfathers were members and Secretaries of their Lodges. In 2017, Karen was employed as Prov CS of the Tunbridge Wells District Lodge and has been a Deputy to AMC since 2018. Karen was an executive of the National Federation of Administrative Officers for one year. She has served on the Metropolitan Group Conference since 2018, with one year as an Executive Officer before becoming their Secretary in 2019. Prior to being elected as a Member Nominated Non-Executive Director in 2022, Karen was a Unity Special Arbitrator.

Outside of the Society, Karen has been a District Treasurer in East Grinstead for Girlguiding UK since 2007 and is a Unit Helper for two Rainbow units (girls aged five to seven years old) and also helps out at local Brownie and Guide camps. In addition, she has been a member of the Parochial Church Council at her local Church since 2010 and served as Church Warden from 2015 to 2021.

Age: 48

Alex Walker

MEMBER NON-EXECUTIVE DIRECTORHeadshot of Alex Walker

Alex has been a member of the Society for more than 25 years, serving on North Gloucestershire District Lodge’s Committee of Management for 10 of these.

He is currently the District’s Development Officer, a role held since 2012, he has been Provincial Grand Master for his District and he has served as an AMC Deputy for eight years.

He has a strong member recruitment record and, in 2017, he was awarded the Oddfellows' prestigious Silver Gilt Recruitment Jewel.

Outside of the Oddfellows, Alex has been a Director of Unity Credit Union Ltd for over four years, managing its recent rebrand, social media activity and new website build.

Previous to his role at the Oddfellows, Alex worked for nine years in the insurance sector for TWG Services, achieving first place in the company’s Lean Six Sigma project and innovating several ideas that were adopted into practice.

He has also worked in the Trade Union movement for UNISON, driving member recruitment in Gloucestershire.

Alex has 13 GCSEs, a BND in ICT practitioners and system support, and numerous qualifications relating to security services.

In his free time, Alex enjoys travelling as well as cooking.

Age: 34 

Steve Code

Insurance Director/Executive DirectorHeadshot of Steve Code

Steve joined the Board of Directors of the Society in March 2011 as Insurance Director having previously been Chief Executive and Secretary of another friendly society. He has worked in the financial services industry and the Friendly Societies Movement for over 44 years, half of which have been spent in various senior management positions.

He has worked both in the UK and Ireland and his management experience stretches across general management, strategic change, operations, programme management, sales and marketing. Steve achieved a Masters in Business Administration in 1998.

Steve was Provincial Grand Master of the Mersey District Lodge in 2017-2018 and he is a Trustee of his Branch.

Age: 61

Bill Connolly

External Non-Executive DirectorHeadshot of William Connolly

Bill joined the Board in May 2007 as an External Non-Executive Director. As part of the revised governance arrangements that were agreed at the 2018 AMC, he was appointed as Chairman of the Board, a position which, in agreement with the Society’s Regulators, came to an end in June 2020. He also serves on the Commercial Board, the Governance Committee and the Remuneration Committee, having chaired the latter two Committees prior to the changes brought about at the 2018 AMC.

Bill spent all of his working life at Royal Liver Assurance. He was appointed Assistant Secretary in 1999 and was invited to join the Society’s Executive Team at that time. In 2003, he was appointed as Group Secretary and he also occupied the post of Secretary to all of Royal Liver’s Subsidiary Companies and the Pension Trustee Companies. Bill became Royal Liver’s Chief Executive in January 2010 until he retired on 30 September 2011 following Royal Liver’s transfer of engagements to Royal London.

Whilst working for Royal Liver, Bill was involved at a senior level in the Association of Friendly Societies, the Association of Mutual Insurers and the Association of Financial Mutuals. He is also a former President of the Insurance Institute of Liverpool.

Age: 66

Colin Nugent

External Non-Executive DirectorHeadshot of Colin Nugent

Colin joined the Board in May 2018 as an External Non-Executive Director. He is the current Chairman of the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee. He had previously served on the former Insurance Committee of the Society from 2011 through to 2018.

Most of his professional life was with Royal Liver Assurance over a 34-year period. Commencing in the Secretariat, Colin’s later roles included Group Secretary, Customer Services Director and Director of Retail Operations (UK). He also operated as an independent Financial Services Consultant for three years. His final role at Royal Liver was in an interim position as Deputy Chief Executive for the year prior to the transfer of Royal Liver’s business to Royal London.

Colin has served on a number of Insurance Industry forums, both in the UK and the ROI.

Age: 68

Robert Edwards

EXTERNAL NON-EXECUTIVE DIRECTORHeadshot of Robert Edwards

After graduating from Leeds University with a BSc Honours degree in mathematics in 1977, Rob worked exclusively in Financial Services for over 40 years, principally with Friendly Societies.

Up until September 2013, he was permanently employed by Family Investments (FI), for 25 years. He held positions as a Company Director for over 15 years, including over 12 years as Chief Operating Officer (COO), with responsibility for all key operational functions, including Marketing, Finance, IT and Customer Services, and 350 employees. During this time he also chaired the Association of Financial Mutuals (AFM) COO network.

Having retired from full-time employment, Rob worked as a Non-Executive Director on the Kingston Unity (KU) Main Board from June 2014, and then became Chairman of the Society in July 2015 until the merger with the Oddfellows.

As well as chairing the Main Board, he has, over the six years, chaired the Nominations and Investment Sub- Committees, and Working Parties to review the Society’s merger, distribution and IT strategies.

Prior to working at FI, Rob worked for a mutual life office followed by a traditional friendly society, then the Tunbridge Wells Equitable Friendly Society, and this coupled with over six years at KU, has provided sound experience and knowledge of the operation of branch–based Societies with delegate systems.

Age: 66

Dave Grant

EXTERNAL NON-EXECUTIVE DIRECTORHeadshot of Dave Grant

Dave joined as a Society Director on 1 February 2021 as a result of the transfer of engagements of Kingston Unity and currently sits on the Society’s Commercial Board. He served as an NED of KU from 2019 through to the transfer date.

He currently works as a business consultant across a number of different industries, both in the UK and overseas. He also holds two other NED roles. He serves on the Board of a regional Building Society, where he also Chairs their Risk Committee, and also at a Mortgage and Protection Network business.

He previously held a wide variety of senior positions in Banks, Building Societies, Insurance and Pensions organisations, up to and including Board level.

He is a strong believer and advocate of the Mutual business model, and believes that the combination of a strong depth and breadth of experience, together with contemporary financial services market knowledge enable him to make a strong contribution to the Board.

Age: 62

Peter Darragh

EXTERNAL NON-EXECUTIVE DIRECTORHeadshot of Peter Darragh

Peter joined Oddfellows Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee in 2021, having been co-opted to this role as a result of the transfer of engagements of the Kingston Unity Friendly Society (KU) and was duly elected as a Director of the Oddfellows at the 2021 AMC. Peter previously spent 11 years as a Non-Executive Director at KU, holding various positions during his tenure there, including Chairman for four years.

Most of Peter’s career has been spent as a lawyer working at senior levels in both private practice with a regional and a ‘magic circle’ law firm (respectively) and in-house for a financial
technology and an insurance/investment company. His main current role is as principal consultant for a legal and technology risk consulting firm, working with clients across a broad range of industries and jurisdictions. He also provides investment consultancy to a family office and has roles with various charities in Belfast which focus on community regeneration and address issues relating to deprivation.

Peter has a young family and enjoys sports, and currently serves as Vice-Commodore of County Antrim Yacht Club.

Find out more about Board of Director nomination, independence, induction training and the evaluation of Directors.