Meet John

Meet the Chairman of the Friends, John Pearson.

Dear Friends,

As your chairman, I thought that I ought to introduce myself.

I am a Leeds Loiner through and through, having been born (at a very early age) in Hyde Terrace and having lived in Hyde Park, Harehills and Moortown.  I attended the famous Cowper Street School and then Roundhay School and read textiles at Leeds University followed by a doctorate in biochemistry (it’s a long story – don’t ask).  I then went to Huddersfield Polytechnic/University and worked my way up from lecturer to Head of Department of Design Technology.  I still have a passion for textiles – I have done voluntary work at the Discovery Centre on their costume collection and am now working on their Hepworth’s archives (part of their large collection devoted to the Leeds tailoring industry).  My wife (Joan), although spending much of her early life in Gateshead, was born in Bradford, so our Yorkshire credentials are impeccable.

One of my other great devotions is to Leeds Rhinos rugby league team – if rabbiting on about them were an Olympic event, I would be a certainty for a gold medal.  I also have a passion for gardening, particularly growing fruit and vegetables.  Apparently my brassicas have to be seen to be believed.

With regard to the Friends, I follow on from an illustrious line of former Chairmen (and woman), particularly my immediate predecessor John Luxton, whose excellent and highly productive reign came to an end in a blaze of warm, sunny weather.  By contrast, as I write, mine is more like a ‘rain’.

Any Friends’ Chairman is only as effective as his or her team and I am extremely fortunate in this respect.  In Mary Herbert and Don Townsley I have two superb Vice-Presidents: Mary, amongst many other contributions, has organised a whole host of events, including the recent and hugely enjoyable Spring luncheon which was appreciated by all who attended, particularly as Mary had ensured that we had lovely, warm and sunny weather.  Don also contributes a great deal and his engineering/transport-based trips are always a real delight, often featuring places that members would not usually be able to visit.

The honorary officers are such a great help.  Liz Nash, as Hon Secretary, does a massive amount of work, not only producing the Newsletter and minutes of meetings, but ensuring that said meetings go smoothly, not least by her keeping the Chairman in order.   Bill North has been Hon Treasurer for many years and the term ‘stalwart’ could have been invented for him.  His work is invaluable and his presence at meetings a real joy.  He (together with Don) kept the Friends alive at times of great difficulty and we owe that both a huge debt of gratitude for this.  Karen Whitham (Membership) is a relatively recent appointment, but she has already made a major contribution.

The other members of the Executive Committee also work very hard on your behalf, helping the Friends to function, including the organisation of trips and other events.  Around 350 trips have been organised so far yet, each year, Committee members come up with new, fascinating places to visit and I am very grateful for all their help.

However, we couldn’t operate without you, our members.  By paying your subscriptions and supporting the various events (many thanks to those of you who came to the AGM, ensuring an excellent turn out) you have enabled the Friends to contribute well in excess of £100,000 pounds to the Leeds Museums since our foundation in 1971, so many thanks to all of you for your help.

The main aim of the Friends is to support the Leeds museums.  However, we are meant to be a ‘Friendly’ organisation, providing enjoyable activities.  To this end, please let me know if there are any types of social event that you would like us to organise and/or if there are any particular places which you would like us to organise visits to.  I look forward to hearing from you and to seeing you at future events.

In terms of what I would like to achieve during my time in office, I would like us to expand the scope of these social activities, so that more members can join in and I would like to broaden the scope of our membership, ideally by including younger age groups.

With regard to social activities, I appreciate that money is tight and that not all of you can come on trips.  From next year, we intend to reduce the number of trips per year to 6, hopefully make them more affordable and go to places which would be difficult to access by public transport.  We also to intend to have some more social gatherings, where members can meet each other in an informal and pleasant setting, such as at a garden party or a strawberry tea.

I also feel that it is essential that younger members are attracted to the Friends.  Succession planning is important and it is only by new members joining that the long term future of the Friends can be assured.  Initiatives are in place to try and realise this: details of outcomes will appear on this website and in the Newsletter. 

Please feel free to contact me about any issue concerning the Friends: John Pearson (

Best wishes


John Pearson (Chairman)