Press Release

1 June 2020

Refuge announces new Chair of its governing board

Refuge, the national charity which provides specialist support to women and children escaping domestic abuse today announced the appointment of a new Chair.

Hetti Barkworth-Nanton succeeds Maggie Rae whose term as chair of the governing board ends in June.

Maggie Rae said she was delighted with the appointment:

“We have conducted a very thorough and exhaustive search to find the right person to take over this very challenging role. We are privileged that Hetti has agreed to succeed me, and I know she is the right person to guide Refuge through the next phase of its hugely influential work in fighting domestic abuse.”

Currently the CEO of Ploughshare Innovations, Hetti is an accomplished leader with an admirable career spanning 25 years of financial, commercial and transformation leadership across major blue chip organisations, including Vodafone, Centrica plc and British Airways. She is also a facilitator at The Windsor Leadership.

Hetti is a former Chair of the Joanna Simpson Foundation and, until recently, was a Pioneer at Safe Lives. The Foundation was set up after Hetti’s best friend, Joanna Simpson, was killed by her estranged husband in 2010. The tragedy led Hetti to campaign for increased awareness of domestic abuse and a few years ago, at a Safe Lives reception, she caught the attention of the Duchess of Cornwall who has since spoken publicly about the need to combat the scourge of domestic abuse.

Hetti Barkworth-Nanton said she was honoured to take on the role of the Chair of Refuge:

“I would like to thank the Trustees who have put their faith in me. I face a huge challenge in succeeding Maggie Rae who has given years of commitment to Refuge as a Board member and then Chair. As a family lawyer, Maggie has supported the Refuge team to grow the charity to become the country’s largest provider of specialist domestic abuse services to women and children, supporting over 6,500 survivors every day.

I am proud to take on this vital role with Refuge to help advance their transformational work. Refuge’s CEO, Sandra Horley and the entire team have been a driving force in the sector and their deep commitment to victims has improved the lives of many.

Domestic abuse is a crime which affects the lives of millions of women and children every year. Despite huge campaigning work, improvements to our laws, and commitment from so many, the number of deaths committed by violent partners increased by almost 30% last year, and sadly since the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen a huge escalation of abuse and suffering across the world. I am committed to fighting this crime and supporting abused women and children whose lives are blighted by this most insidious of crimes and look forward to bringing my business leadership expertise together with my knowledge of the sector to the wonderful and tireless work that Refuge delivers day in and day out.”