New year, new Chair!

9 January 2023

Oxfordshire Youth’s new Chair of Trustees has devoted his life to promoting children and young people’s interests

Oxfordshire Youth is thrilled to announce that John May O.B.E. has been appointed Chair of our board of brilliant trustees. John brings with him a glittering treasure trove of youth work experience from a long career in scouting culminating in his appointment as Vice-Chairman of the World Scout Committee. He has just finished serving as Secretary General of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation and is a Deputy Lieutenant for Oxfordshire.

A campaigner, storyteller, writer, broadcaster, teacher, urban cyclist and occasional long-distance runner, John has spent his career supporting and leading voluntary, educational and charitable organisations all over the world. Trained first as an actor and then as a teacher, our new Chair worked with children and young people in situations as diverse as suburban English schools and Ugandan refugee camps. Becoming a headteacher at the age of just 28 – one of the youngest ever in the UK – he went on to develop a reputation for regenerating underperforming schools. John has since been the national Education Director of Business in the Community, founding Chief Executive of Career Ready and Chief Executive of Young Enterprise. As if that weren’t quite enough, he is a former non-executive director of UNICEF, helped to found ‘Teach First’ in the UK and is a Stonewall Ambassador, campaigning for acceptance without exception for all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people.

His lifetime spent in the service of others has resulted in high level recognition. In 2008, John received The Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion in acknowledgment of his long-standing dedication to enterprise education. In 2009, he was given the Freedom of the City of London and in 2020, he was awarded his Order of the British Empire.

John’s Who’s Who entry lists his hobbies as Scouting, long distance running, hill walking, theatre, good food, and attempting to visit the gym regularly – something many of us can relate to at the start of a new year! But we hear a rumour that Mr May describes himself as, “an habitual chocolate cake eater”, so now we know what to get in for the first board meeting of 2023!

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