Every word counts

Stagetext Board of Trustees

Robin Saphra (Chair)

Robin worked for 10 years as an accomplished Theatre Director before becoming a lawyer. He has always had a strong interest in the arts and is a trustee of the Yard Theatre in London.

Since starting his legal career at a City law firm, Robin has since spent 20 years in Corporate General Counsel roles to global technology businesses in the UK, Germany, Dubai and the USA. He has been a key influencer in the creation and development of regulation of the global telecommunications markets. Robin is also an entrepreneur, having been involved in the establishment of several new ventures in both technology and professional services markets.

Robin is married with four children and lives in London.

"Stagetext has a critical role in enabling and supporting arts organisations to deliver better access and I am very proud to join the organisation and to be part of their mission.”


Tim Hardy (Deputy Chair)

Tim enjoyed a long career as a partner in a City law firm and as a Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) accredited mediator, practising in the field of international insurance and commercial disputes.

He is currently: Assistant Secretary-General of AIDA, an international insurance law association which spans approximately 60 countries, is Chair of its Climate and Catastrophic Events Working Party, a Committee Member of AIDA Europe, Vice President of AIDA's UK Chapter, the British Insurance Law Association (BILA) and a supporter of the charitable trust, City Disabilities. This work has reinforced his awareness of the importance of successfully bridging all kinds of divides which may otherwise separate or isolate us, whether personal, geographical, cultural or linguistic.

Before enjoying the huge benefits of a cochlear implant in 2015, Tim was profoundly deaf since his late teens and is acutely aware of the value of access for a wide range of activities and pursuits. A theatregoer all his life, Tim only discovered captioning in 2010. Since then, he has again been able to enjoy accompanying his hearing wife and friends to a wide range of theatre and talks events. He became a Trustee of Stagetext in 2013 and remains eager to help Stagetext promote the remarkable benefits of captioning to an ever wider audience.


Sally Yarwood (Treasurer)

Sally is a qualified chartered accountant and has worked as a Finance Director in three London housing associations for over 20 years. She has worked in a wide range of housing provisions including street homelessness, general needs, supported housing and shared ownership. From 2009-2015, Sally was Finance Director with Shape Arts where she gained an excellent understanding of the arts and access barriers. She now works part time on a freelance basis.

Sally has a partial hearing loss and is very interested in the development of access resources, including captioning, to enable theatre and the arts to be as inclusive, accessible and enjoyable as possible to all audiences.


James Baggaley

James is Strategy Director at Made Media - a digital agency working with arts, culture and media clients across the UK, Australia and North America. James has a background in arts management and digital technology, having worked for organisations like The Place in London - the UK’s leading centre for contemporary dance development - and the ADC Theatre in Cambridge, as well as holding a number of leadership roles at Spektrix. He worked with Spektrix, which provides cloud-based box office software to arts and entertainment venues around the UK and North America, from 2009 to 2015, helping to grow the company from having eight clients to becoming the UK market leader. James is Chair of Potential Difference Theatre, a company exploring the boundaries of theatre-making and technology, and also continues to occasionally work as a freelance theatre lighting designer, with recent projects taking him to New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia.


Charlotte Bayley

Currently London Area Manager in the Fellowship team at the RSA (The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), Charlotte has six years’ experience in press and publicity for the arts and culture sector. She was Press Manager at the award-winning Young Vic theatre 2014 – 17. Previously, at The Corner Shop PR, she worked on campaigns for productions in the West End and beyond, London 2012 Cultural Olympiad events as well as arts festivals (Manchester International Festival 2013; Yorkshire Festival 2014) and venues (Chichester Festival Theatre; Donmar Warehouse). Charlotte was a finalist in the Outstanding Young Communicator category at the 2014 CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) Awards for her campaign for the opening of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe, amongst other projects.

From a young age Charlotte has enjoyed captioned performances, talks and other events with members of her family who are deaf and hard of hearing.


Jackie Elliman

Jackie comes from a theatre management background and has worked for a range of performing arts organisations,from street arts to the West End.  She has a Drama Degree from Manchester University and, much later, studied Law at the College of Law, this combination of qualifications led her to her being appointed to her present post: Legal & Industrial Relations Manager of the Independent Theatre Council.  Jackie is also a qualified mediator and arbitrator, a Trustee of Lambeth Mediation Service, a Director of Outdoor Arts UK as well as leading the RSA's Performing Arts Network. Jackie started going to the theatre at the age of two and has continued ever since despite childhood hearing loss, she is excited about the improved access captioning offers particularly for those who have assumed hearing loss must mean loss of access to culture.


Rachel Jele

A digital marketing expert, Rachel started her career in broadcasting at the BBC, where she worked as a broadcast journalist for local radio and BBC online. Since then she has specialised in digital media and worked for a wide range of industries and markets, including the games and entertainment industries. She has extensive experience of both B2C and B2B having worked across the commercial and public sectors. She is now Director of Marking and Communications at Capital City College Group.

A keen gamer, Rachel has an obsession with all things tech and has developed a bit of an obsession for story-lead games. She has also been an active theatre goer since a young child.

Rachel has been partially deaf since she was a child. She is passionate in using new technology to transform people’s lives - whether through mobile apps or gadgets - including bringing theatre and other cultural events to a wider audience.


Matthew Johnston

A technologist with 30 years of IT related experience in various roles. Matthew started his career at IBM  before becoming an independent consultant for several years, working for various companies. Matthew spent 11 years at Morgan Stanley working in many different divisions and on various projects including the Google IPO, focussing on the institutional and retail book building analytics.

He also co-founded the European disABILITY Taskforce, which is a group of employees from across the firm who actively support the firm to develop and execute its disability agenda to become a disability confident workplace. He was the co-chairman for five years.

Matthew is now working for ThoughtWorks, a software consultancy and whose purpose is to revolutionise software design, creation and delivery, while advocating for positive social change. He is also a disability champion and is passionate about technology and inclusivity. He sees inclusive technology as essential to help drive a socially and economically just world and is working with clients to drive that agenda.

Matthew has been the driving force to make ThoughtWorks events, both internal and external, accessible with live subtitles. Matthew continues to push the boundaries to encourage major venues to display subtitles on their large screens for commentary and announcements.

Matthew is profoundly deaf since birth and enjoys going to captioned theatre shows and live talks.


Nina Thomas

Nina has a degree in Illustration and  a Masters degree in Art and Media Practice. She currently works freelance as an Artist and Researcher whilst also working with inclusive arts organisations such as NDACA and The Film Bunch.

Nina was born with no hearing in her right ear, but it was not until she experienced a sudden hearing loss in her left, the year after graduation from university, that things really affected her and she lost the ability to communicate and understand the world around her with ease. She has found the exclusion from many cultural events particularly frustrating and isolating and she now relies on captioning to enjoy or participate in educational events, group discussion, film, theatre and other art events such as talks. She has expressed that she recognises that she is not alone in missing out on cultural events and she currently works with other d/Deaf and disabled people on a variety of projects to improve access provisions in the cultural sector with projects such as NDACA, The Film Bunch, History of Place and many other research projects

As an artist she is particularly interested in finding ways to make the arts accessible to all by examining how access may be considered from the conceptual stages of development rather than as simply an ‘add-on’ element at the end. She has a particular interest in innovative approaches to audio description and captioning.


For more information on how to join the Stagetext Board, please email Melanie Sharpe, Chief Executive.

Stagetext founders

On 2 November 2010 two of the founding members of Stagetext, Peter J. Pullan MBE (former Chair) and Merfyn Williams, stepped down from the Board of Trustees after devoting the last 10 years to the charity. Geoff Brown, the third co-founder, stood down in 2007. See History of Stagetext.



The Arts Council
The Arts Council
The Arts Council