Meet the board

26 is all about you. We want everyone to feel they can have a say and influence the shape of 26 to come. We’re just here to help it happen. The eight of us who originally conceived 26 are still very much on board. We’ve since been joined by several other directors, who’ve brought their own strengths and style to the table, helping us maintain our momentum and enthusiasm. This is who we are.

Alastair Creamer

Founder and co-Director of Creamer & Sundt, I use the power and impact of the arts to address business challenges around culture, communication and leadership. I also run a not-for-profit enterprise, Eyes Wide Opened, which helps people discover their direction in life and the steps they need to take to achieve that.

Andy Hayes

What’s your day job?
MD at Quietroom.

What’s the point of you?

Why did you join 26?
Great projects. Great talks. Great people.

What do you do on the management board?
Help run events and projects. Drink coffee and eat biscuits.

What are you reading?
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

Tell me a secret.

Elise Valmorbida

Elise’s communications agency word-design offers a rare mix of brand strategy, design and writing services. Her internationally published books include the award-winning novel The Madonna of the Mountains (Faber). Elise teaches creative writing at Central Saint Martins, Arvon, Guardian Masterclasses and Faber Academy. She’s been a D&AD President (Writing for Design), External Examiner for Falmouth University’s MA in Professional Writing, and Edinburgh International Film Festival Trailblazer. For 26, her pet projects include training, design, writer-awards, Wordstock, 26 Writers Norwich, PEN International and Fine Cell Work.

Irene Lofthouse

Irene’s a Bradford-based author, writing facilitator/mentor, playwright, social historian and performer. Fiction, non-fiction and poetry appears in many anthology collections and featured on BBC Leeds; She’s written over thirty plays, two children’s fiction collections, and edited several anthologies; taken a one-woman show to Edinburgh, appeared in films, on TV and radio.

A writer-in-residence with First Story; creative content/project developer with Historic England; storyteller with The Piece Hall; online learning content creator for Leeds Beckett University.

Irene co-founded two community theatre groups and an educational publishing company which won several marketing awards and the national ‘Age Positive’ award from the Dept of Work & Pensions.

Artistic Director of collaborative collective Fresh Aire Productions and trustee of JB Priestley Society. She tweets @irene_lofthouse.

John Simmons

John Simmons is a founder director of 26, an independent consultant on brands and language, and the author of many books on writing for business. He’s also co-founder of Dark Angels, the programme on creative writing for business. He has initiated many of 26’s creative projects from 26 Letters with the British Library in 2004 through to projects with the Wildlife Trusts. In recent years he has become a published novelist, first with Urbane and now with Bloodhound: Leaves, Spanish Crossings and The Good Messenger.

Margaret Oscar

Margaret is a brand marketer with a particular focus on the way businesses communicate with employees. By integrating a brand’s core purpose with employee objectives and igniting ceased ownership, brands can influence and engage an internal audience, building a strong employee bond with the business, its goals and the go-to-market strategy. She has extensive experience with a diverse selection of brands and sectors with a proven track record for creating strategic approaches that deliver effective messages and associations.

Martin Clarkson

Love of the performing arts and a unique insight into the way narrative and meaningful conversation shapes our lives, took Martin from the Board of M&S to being a founding partner and now Chairman of The Storytellers.

The Storytellers helps companies focus on the ‘power of people’ in provoking successful change, using the remarkable influence of stories and storytelling. More recently Martin and his business partner launched the consultancy create balance, choosing to work with ‘good people doing good things’ and helping them find, maintain and improve balance as both a capability and better way of engaging with the outside world. 

Martin Lee

I am a founder of Acacia Avenue, a research and strategy consultancy. Prior to that, my career had been in bookselling, culminating as Marketing Director at Waterstones, I’ve been a member of 26 since it started, and on the board since 2004. I always say that I write for a life, not a living, and 26 fulfils that part of me perfectly.

Paul White

Paul has been creative director of four advertising agencies (one in the UK; three in NZ) and founding partner of two. He also ran NZ’s first university Ad Creativity course at Auckland University of Technology for 18 years. While there he says he learned heaps – from the students, many of whom have gone on to be luminaries all over the world – gained an M.Phil with honours and taught on the university’s post-graduate Brand Communication course . These days he earns a crust as a freelance copywriter and creative strategist. In between crusts he writes poetry and short fiction. His poetry has won prizes and been published by the NZ Poetry Society.

Sana Iqbal

Sana Iqbal is a freelance strategist, graphic designer. She enjoys collaborating with clients who want to make a meaningful difference and are a force for good. Her expertise spans across branding, campaigns, marketing and storytelling for clients including The Storytellers, National Grid, Bupa Insurance, Labour Party and Lively Minds. Sana is a regular visiting lecturer at Liverpool School of Art and Design and enjoys mentoring young people through The Prince’s Trust.

Sabine Harnau

Sabine works at the intersection of conversion optimisation, ethical marketing, creative writing and brand strategy. Her poems and short stories have been published in anthologies in the UK and Germany. A former grammar school teacher, in-house brand writer and agency communications manager, she started From Scratch after a 26 Training session in 2017. At 26, she’s part of the training team and dreams up new ways to create a great experience for our members around the world. She’s based near Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Wendy Jones

Wendy is a journalist with a background in broadcasting. She used to worked for the BBC, as education correspondent, Today reporter and lots of other things, and is now a freelance writer. She’s a founding trustee of the education charity, National Numeracy, and also teaches English to adults new to Britain. She’s been on the 26 Board since January 2017, has taken part in many 26 writing projects and run one – 26 Lies.

Twitter: @WendyJonesWJ

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