Sarah King (2012) (Chair) Communications & Business Development Consultant
Sarah King is an independent director, serving on the boards of commercial and not-for-profit organisations as well as providing senior level counsel on corporate strategy and communications. As well as being Chair of Polka Theatre, Sarah is a non-executive director of Hillgate Public Relations and serves on the Council of Royal Holloway, University of London. She is also a mentor, working with young people in the charity and service sectors. Sarah’s background is in journalism and PR/communications, working for a wide range of clients, from government agencies and international corporates to media companies, not for profits and new start-ups. She has served on the boards of leading London agencies in a variety of senior roles, including managing director. A lifelong theatre lover, Sarah first experienced the work of Polka’s founder, puppeteer Richard Gill, as a child aged 9, before becoming a Polka parent herself. Sarah lives in Wimbledon with her husband and the youngest of their three children.
Michael Bradley (2019) Head Teacher
Michael is head teacher at Merton Abbey Primary School in South Wimbledon. He trained to teach in East London, specialising in working in multicultural communities and in teaching children who speak English as an additional language. Most of his career has been spent in schools with high numbers of disadvantaged pupils. Michael wants all children – whatever their family background – to benefit from London’s artistic and creative opportunities. He and his partner are foster carers and live with a very naughty small dog.
Mairi Brewis (2012) Strategist
Mairi is Senior Director, Content and Strategic Projects at Hotels.com, an Expedia Group brand. Prior to joining Expedia, Mairi headed up Strategy for BBC Television and worked as a strategy consultant at the Boston Consulting Group, consulting to a range of clients in media and other sectors. Mairi has been a Polka audience member since early childhood and now as a parent, and is delighted to be able to contribute as a Trustee. She has a keen interest in theatre, having previously produced four productions, and served as a Trustee for Metta Theatre Ltd.
Vivienne Creevey Mather (2012) Publisher
With a background in educational and children’s publishing, Vivienne worked with Penguin Books for many years, before heading up the HarperCollins children’s division. She co-founded VotesforSchools in 2016, the voting platform for children and young people which is loved and used in schools in the UK and beyond. She is an advocate of the positive effect great storytelling has on children’s development, and believes it’s the best way to build their confidence, voice and understanding of the world . She is delighted to serve on the board of Polka Theatre as Deputy Chair.
Bilal Hafeez (2017) Economist
Bilal grew up in Oxford, studied Economics at Cambridge and then went to work in macro research at JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank. He is currently at Nomura International. He is also an Honorary Visiting Professor at the Cass Business School in London. He writes a blog in which he loves reflecting on how to live a better life, whether in terms of relationships, work or life in general. He gets through two books a week, has a guilty interest in popcorn movies and has a talent for synthesising complicated ideas. He is taking a break from writing a book on how banking can change the world for the better. He lives in Wimbledon and is married with 2 children, 1 dog and 6 cats.
Nigel Halkes (2014) Non-Executive Director
Nigel is a Chartered Accountant, former resident of Wimbledon and a past Polka parent. In a 36- year career with Ernst & Young, he held a variety of senior roles in the firm, culminating in the role of Managing Partner UK & Ireland Markets. He retired from EY at the end of 2013 to develop a non-executive career spanning the public, private and charitable sectors. As well as the Polka Theatre, Nigel’s non-executive portfolio has included five public listed companies, the Visit England Advisory Board, the V&A Development Advisory Board, the EY Foundation and Rowdeford School, a special needs school in Devizes. Nigel is also Chairman of the Hugo Halkes Charitable Trust, a long-term supporter of the Polka Theatre. Nigel lives in Wiltshire and London. His interests include Arts, Theatre, Travel & Sport.
Alison Harpur (2020) Publishing
Alison has been involved with books all her working life, first in publishing and then as a Children’s Librarian, she now works for a specialist Children’s bookshop. Alison spent 25 years living and working around the world and returned to south London 8 years ago and was extremely happy to discover that Polka Theatre was still a thriving concern as she remembers many happy visits with her children in the 1990s. Alison is a keen theatregoer and a passionate believer that children need theatre.
Rebecca Holt (2017) Executive Director, Battersea Arts Centre
Rebecca is Executive Director & Deputy CEO at Battersea Arts Centre. This role is responsible for setting the organisation’s strategic plans and ensuring financial sustainability, as well as overseeing HR, building operations and commercial operations including BAC’s café bar, events and catering businesses. She also plays a key role in fundraising for the organisation, and has overseen a multimillion pound insurance claim process to rebuild BAC’s biggest space following a major fire in 2015. Rebecca is also responsible for the organisation’s governance as Company Secretary. She has worked at BAC since 2011 in a number of different roles. Rebecca is inspired by the work of Polka and is excited to play a role in bringing theatre to young audiences as a Trustee.
Gerard Silverlock (2019) Head Teacher
Gerard studied at Bristol and London Universities and completed his PhD in the War Studies Department at King’s College London. He taught history and politics at Millfield School, joined Lord Wandsworth College in Hampshire as Head of History before becoming Headmaster of Aberdour, a co-ed prep school in Surrey. He has been Headmaster of King’s College Junior School in Wimbledon since 2006. Gerard is an ISI inspector, Vice-Chair of the Independent Association of Prep Schools and governor of a maintained primary school in Merton. Gerard is married to Victoria and they have four children. His interests including reading, theatre, cinema and sports, especially football, rugby and cricket.
Nicola Theron (2016) Property Advisor
Nicola is the London director for Strategic Planning in CHP, a property company owned by the NHS, and has worked within the NHS for a number of years. She is a Chartered Surveyor by training, worked within the Housing Association sector, moving to PwC and was made Director in 2005. She left to become CEO of South London Health Partnerships, a public/private partnership and was responsible for delivering 10 health centres and associated buildings. Since 2015, she has led CHP’s London estates planning team, working with a number of London regions in the development and enhancing of estate based solutions to deliver enhanced health outcomes as part of the STP process.
Emily Vaughan-Barratt (2019) Theatre Producer
Emily is a theatre producer who runs theatre production company Wessex Grove alongside Ben Lowy, which they set up together in 2020, recent productions include Constellations (Vaudeville Theatre) and The New Tomorrow (co-production with The Young Vic). Prior to this, Emily was a Producer for Ambassador Theatre Group for 8 years, producing shows for the West End and for Broadway. Recent productions include; Cyrano de Bergerac and The Seagull (Playhouse Theatre), Pretty Woman(Piccadilly Theatre), Betrayal (Harold Pinter Theatre and Bernard B.Jacobs Theatre), and The Pinter at the Pinter Season (Harold Pinter Theatre). She has also worked at Fiery Angel, Chichester Festival Theatre and The Print Room. Emily grew up in Wimbledon, where her parents still live and spent a lot of time with her mum at Polka all through her childhood, which is clearly where the beginning of her love and commitment to theatre started.