John Bache, Cheshire - Chairman
Beverley Higgs, Somerset - Deputy Chairman
Alison Spurgeon-Dickson, Cumbria North - Deputy Chairman
Shyam Sharma, Wessex - Treasurer
Fiona Abbott, South West London
John Bacon, North Yorkshire
Mark Beattie, Central & North London
Emir Feisal, Central and North London
David Ford, Mid & South Glamorgan
Stephen Matthews, South & South East London
John Stroud-Turp Middlesex
John Bache JP FRCS, Cheshire - Chairman
John was Bench Representative to the Executive Committee of the Cheshire Branch of the MA from October 2006 and National Council Representative from November 2007 before being appointed Deputy Chairman. He was a member of the Youth Courts Committee from 2007-10 and chaired the committee from 2010-13. He was a Trustee from November 2009 until October 2013. He was Chairman of the Cheshire Branch in 2012. He served as Deputy Chairman from October 2013 until 18 November 2017, when he was elected MA Chairman at the national AGM.
John has been a magistrate since 1989. He has been a member of the Youth Panel since 1992 and was Chairman of the Youth Panel from 1998 to 2000. He was Deputy Bench Chairman from 2006 to 2008 and Bench Chairman from 2009 to 2011. He was Chairman of Cheshire JIG in 2010 and 2011 and Chairman of the North West Region of the National Bench Chairmen’s Forum in 2011. He has given evidence at the House of Commons Justice Committee and various other parliamentary inquiries. He was a member of Lord Laming's Independent Review of Looked-After Children in the Criminal Justice System and of the Judicial Youth Justice Committee, chaired by Mr Justice William Davis.
John is a doctor and was a consultant in Accident and Emergency for 26 years, until he took early retirement when he was elected Chairman of the Bench. His interests include violence in the NHS and the harmful effects of alcohol. He enjoys history and current affairs and relaxes by walking his two dogs.
John is married with four children.
Beverley Higgs JP, Somerset - Deputy Chairman
Beverley was appointed to the South Somerset & Mendip Bench in 2005. Since 2008 she has sat as an Adult Court Chair. She is currently a co-opted member of the Somerset MA Branch, a member of the TDC and has mentored new magistrates. Since 2014 Beverley has been a member of the MA Training Committee with a particular interest in appraisal and continuing professional development. She served on the Board of Trustees from January 2015 until the MA AGM on 18 November 2017 when she was elected Deputy Chairman.
With a professional background in HR Beverley is an experienced not-for-profit charity manager. She managed a CAB Bureau for seven years and also sat on the National Trustee Board of CITA the membership association. She has recently played a key role in establishing a Restorative Justice Partnership to serve Somerset. Beverley is in the process of doctoral research with Portsmouth University, her interests are the roles of volunteers in the criminal justice system and the use of restorative justice by criminal justice agencies.
Beverley has three adult children, a granddaughter and absolutely no interest in sport whatever – well – maybe Formula 1 if pushed!
Dr Alison Spurgeon-Dickson JP, Cumbria North - Deputy Chairman
Alison was appointed as a magistrate in 2005. She joined Magistrates in the Community (MIC) in 2008. In 2010 she qualified as a bench chairman. Between 2010-2014 she was a member of the Cumbria combined family panel. From 2013-2015 she undertook the role of Deputy Chairman of Furness and District bench. Since 2015 she has served as Deputy Chairman of the South Cumbria bench. She served on the Board of Trustees from January 2016 until the MA AGM on 18 November 2017 when she was elected Deputy Chairman.
Alison has been a member of the MA since her appointment in 2005. In 2012 she presented research to the MA. She was appointed to the MA Training Committee in 2013.
Through her work as a senior lecturer at the University of Cumbria, as a chartered psychologist, as a prison researcher, employment in HM prison service and voluntary work in prisons and young offender institutes Alison has gained a good level of understanding of what sentences are designed to achieve, and their relative effectiveness in preventing re-offending. Her current lecturing in forensic psychology focuses upon community and custodial sentences, risk assessment and risk management, and the efficacy of offending behaviour programmes, which gives her a clear, critical, and detailed understanding of offender populations, such as mentally disordered offenders, female offenders and violent offenders. Her role as a magistrate together with her professional role give her insight and understanding of policy and practice related to the working of courts and decision-making processes.
Alison hopes to contribute her knowledge and experience to significant matters of the Board, such as expansion of the MA’s operations into new activities, particularly in light of the current review of the role of the magistracy.
She is married with two adult children – enjoys music, architecture, and living in the Lake District.
Shyam Sharma JP, Wessex - Treasurer
Shyam was appointed in 1990 to the Southampton Bench and became a chairman of the adult and youth courts in 1993. He was a member of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Magistrates' Court Committee from 1995 until 31 March 2005 and was appointed a Court Board Member of HM Court Service in October 2004, serving in this role until 2009.
Shyam is a practising chartered accountant, having been admitted as an associate member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales in 1976 and made a fellow in January 1982. He commenced his own practice, as a sole practitioner in January 1984.
He has served in a variety of other roles including: Non-executive Director and then Chairman of Southampton Community NHS Trust; Treasurer of Southampton Test Conservative Association; Director of Art Asia Trust Limited; and General Commissioner of Income Tax for the Southampton Division and received the Community Entrepreneur Award at the 2000 Common Purpose programme.
Shyam was a Director of Wheatsheaf Trust Limited from 2003 to 2006, a charity whose objects are the relief of unemployment for the public benefit by means of a range of interventions to promote social inclusion, economic development and lifelong learning for the communities in Southampton city and region. Since then, he has taken on the role of a Director and Trustee of the Sailors' Society, a charity whose objects are to enhance and enrich Seafarers' lives throughout the world.
Shyam is married and has three daughters.
Fiona Abbott JP, South West London
Fiona was appointed to the Richmond Bench in 1999 which has merged with local benches to form the South West London Bench.
She has been Chairman of the SW London Youth Panel, Chairman of the Richmond Probation Liaison Committee, a member of the BTDC and assisted with local MIC presentations.
Fiona was Chairman of the MA’s Youth Court Committee from December 2015 to November 2017 and has given evidence to the Justice Select Committee on young adults in courts. She was first co-opted to the Board of Trustees in May 2017, to fill a casual vacancy, before being elected to the position in November 2017.
Fiona has a master’s degree (LLM) in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice from Birkbeck, University of London and was awarded the dissertation prize for her work on crime mapping.
A previous director of a marketing project management company, Fiona currently works for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, as a project manager for a Veterans in the Criminal Justice System pilot project.
She is also a lay chairman for Professional Conduct Hearings for the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.
Fiona has rowed for charity with local Bench colleagues (“Bench Blisters”) in the Great River Race, 21 miles along the Thames, and takes part in the annual London Legal Walk.
John Bacon JP, North Yorkshire
John was appointed to the Northallerton Bench in 2005 and is an Approved Adult Court Chairman. He also serves on the Family Panel and the Crown Court Panel. He has served on the North Yorkshire branch executive committee since 2009; member of the Council since 2011 and served as North Yorkshire branch chairman between 2011-14.
John chairs the MA Adult Court Committee and the Restorative Justice Working Group. He also serves on the Lord Chief Justices' Disciplinary Panel. John graduated in 2010 from Cambridge University with a Master’s Degree (M.St.) (Cantab) in Criminology, Penology and Management. His research thesis: Making Progress in Restorative Justice: a qualitative study was used as a key reference point in the Restorative Justice Council's 2011 review of Best Practice Guidance for Restorative Justice Practice.
John has over 35 years of operational, general and executive management experience gained in the finance, retailing, publishing and service sectors.
Mark Beattie JP FBCS, Central and North London
Mark was appointed to the Camden and Islington Bench, based at Highbury Corner, in 2006. Shortly after the creation of the North London Bench, Mark became chairman of the Training and Development Committee for four years and went on to Chair the London Magistrates' Area Training Committee for two years. He was elected as Bench Chairman for North London in 2015 and completed his term in April 2018. He sits as a Court Chairman in both Adult and Youth jurisdictions.
Mark has previously served as Chairman of the Central and North London Branch of the MA, an MA regional representative for London and is the past chairman of the MA Training Committee. He joined the Board of Trustees in May 2017, to fill a casual vacancy, before being elected to the position in November 2017. He has taken the lead on the new appraisal scheme for magistrates on behalf of the MA.
Mark's day job is as Head of Central Services for LondonEnergyt Ltd, a renewable energy and recycling company based in North London.
Mark has been a Trustee of the Student's Union at the University of Southampton. He serves on the Registration and Standard Committee of the British Computer Society (BCS). In 2016 the BCS awarded Mark with its 'Meritorious Service Award', in recognition of his service 'across several areas of the Institute's activities'.
Emir Feisal JP, Central and North London
Emir was appointed to the Central London bench in 2005, and is an approved Court Chairman. He sat on the BTDC from 2014-2017.
He is Managing Director of 360 Change Consulting Ltd specialising in transformational change. He is a Chartered Accountant by profession.
The majority of his career was spent at the Sunday Times as Associate Managing Editor.
He is presently a Commissioner for the Judicial Appointments Commission. He has sat on a number of Boards including ones for The Queens award for Voluntary Services, The Royal Parks Agency, South West London and St. George's Mental Health Trust, The Henry Smith Charity and the Strategic Advisory Board of the Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Services.
David Ford JP, Mid and South Glamorgan
David was appointed as a magistrate in 1994 and has been a member of the MA from that time. He has been a member of the youth panel since 1999 and sits as a Presiding Justice in both adult and youth courts. He has also been a member of the DRR panel.
He was elected Youth Panel Chair of the Cardiff Bench 2009-10. During the same period, he joined the Youth Court Committee and the Youth Justice Committee (a Joint Welsh Assembly/YJB initiative to provide strategic leadership specifically to reduce the number of young people within the youth justice system).
David initially trained as a hotelier and became a Fellow of the HCIMA (Hotel and Catering Institutional Management Association). David spent 20 years in senior management positions within the hospitality industry which took him from hotels, to industrial catering and eventually to Intercity catering and logistics. In 1999 he took the decision to work for himself and set up his first business in the recruitment industry. In the last 10 years he has developed business interests in the property and finance industries. David is particularly supportive of magistrates who juggle their professional occupations and employment with their commitments to the bench.
David re-joined the Youth Courts Committee in 2016 and was co-opted to the board in May 2018 as a Welsh representative. David has since joined a number of different Welsh-focused committees to promote and represent the views of the Magistrates Association and its members on behalf of both the Youth Courts Committee and the Board of Trustees.
David is married, lives in Cardiff and has two children.
Stephen Matthews JP, South & South East London
Steve has been a magistrate since 1992 and sits in London in the adult and family courts. He was deputy chair of the Bexley Bench from 2010 to 2011 until it was merged to become the South East London bench.
Steve has been a family magistrate for more than 20 years and was chair of Bexley Family Panel. He is lead magistrate at East London Family Court and a member of the Greater London Family Panel executive committee having earlier been a deputy chairman.
He is a member of the South and South East London branch and branch council representative from 2003 to 2016. Steve was chair of the South East London branch from 2006 to 2007. He also represented the MA on the South East London JIG.
He was a member of the MA Family Courts Committee from 2008 to 2016 and chair from 2012 to 2015.
By profession Steve is a journalist specialising in the maritime industry and is a former merchant navy officer. He is currently editorial director of a publishing company and was previously economics and finance editor of the daily shipping newspaper Lloyd’s List.
Steve is married with two sons.
John Stroud-Turp JP, Middlesex
John is a relatively new magistrate, he is a member of the West London Bench and the London Family Panel. He is a retired artillery officer; he worked extensively in arms control, counter proliferation, defence capability and defence acquisition. Until retiring he was part of the UK's delegation to a number of UN disarmament groups. He runs a small defence and project management consultancy and is a panel member for the Institute of Apprenticeships.
John holds a BA in Psychology from the University of London, a BSc from the Open University which included criminology, an MBA from Cranfield University and an MSc in Human Resource Management also from Cranfield University.
John is married with two sons.