Meet our Trustees

Dianne Walls OBE

I have been retired seven years from my post as a head teacher of a nursery school and children’s centre and am now serving as a local councillor for Forest Gate South. My career as a teacher started in Newham, where I have lived since 1972. After teaching in secondary schools for twelve years, I retrained to work in nursery and primary education, while working part-time. Most of my career has been in East London. I have served as a local councillor for a total of sixteen years, most recently since 2014. From 2011-2014 I worked in the office of the MP for West Ham, as a volunteer dealing with casework and education issues. In 2015 I was awarded the OBE for services to education and the community. This reflected the excellent work done in the nursery school and children centre concerning child and staff development, in addition to parent and community involvement.

I have a wide range of experience in supporting children and families who are going through a similar range of difficulties to the Magpie families.

On a personal note, I have brought up a family in Newham and now have ten grandchildren most of whom live in East London and have attended school in Newham.

Dianne leads on early years for the trustee board.

Ian Sutton

” I have over 20 years experience in local authority Children’s Services across London, working almost exclusively in the early years sector.

I had previously set out on a career in community arts (having done a Fine Art degree in the 1980’s) but it soon became clear to me that, although access to the arts is as much a social right as access to health, there was so much more to be done than I could ever achieve via a mural or community play. As it happens, at the same time I was thinking of ways to ‘do more’ the then Government introduced Sure Start and were looking for people to help roll it out. I applied, got the job and have worked to support families of young children ever since. In that time we have all ridden the roller-coaster of new initiatives, cuts, emerging issues and – just when we think we’re getting somewhere – along comes another problem.

In the past twenty years the lack of affordable and suitable homes has slowly bubbled to the surface and has become a defining problem for modern society. But, the debate has generally centred on the volume, quality and cost of housing stock.

The focus for housing officers has been to ‘house’ the increasing numbers of homeless families, regardless of the conditions they are placing them in, as if any roof were better than no roof. And, of course that’s true, but we are only now starting to understand the impact of insecure or temporary accommodation on the health, development and future prospects of our children.

For years I have been concerned with the problems children face caused by poverty; ill health; lack of opportunities to play and learn – but never before have I seen them rolled into the ‘perfect storm’ that is growing up in temporary accommodation. That is why I support The Magpie Project.”

Ian leads on strategy for the board.

Amy Ross

Amy has worked in the charity sector for over 10 years, with various roles spanning fundraising, campaigning, project management, strategy and planning.

She is currently Director of Operations and Senior Consultant at Keystone Accountability, where she overseas the internal operations of the charity and helps social change organisations to improve their performance by harnessing feedback from their service users. After moving to Forest Gate in 2014, and after years of working in the international development sector, Amy felt driven to apply her experience and learning to a cause more local to home.

After hearing about the families that come to The Magpie Project, and with young children of her own, Amy was compelled to offer her support. She joined the Fundraising Committee in September 2017 and was appointed to the board of trustees in February 2018.

Amy takes a lead on fundraising on the board.


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