The Patrons of the Vaughan Parents' Action Group are:


David Alton qualified as a teacher in 1972, working in socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods, teaching immigrant children and later children with special needs.  While still a student, aged 21, he was elected to Liverpool City Council and became its Housing Chairman and Deputy Leader.

Elected in 1979 to the House of Commons for a Liverpool constituency, as a Liberal, becoming the youngest member and achieving a record political swing.

He was his Party’s spokesman on Home Affairs, Northern Ireland, Overseas Development and the Environment, and served as Chief Whip, Chairman of the Party’s Policy Committee and President of the National League of Young Liberals.

In 1997 he stood down from the House of Commons, and from party politics, and was nominated by the Prime Minister, Sir John Major, to the House of Lords, where he sits as an Independent Life Peer, speaking regularly on human rights and religious liberty issues. 


Among the international awards he has received are the Michael Bell Memorial Award for Initiatives for Life, the Korean Mystery of Life Award, and the Advocates International Award for human rights work.  In 2005 he was created a Knight Commander of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George in recognition of his work for inter-faith and ecumenical dialogue. In 2008 Pope Benedict XVI created him a Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory the Great in recognition of his work for human rights and religious liberty.


Professor Philip Booth is Editorial and Programme Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs and Professor of Insurance and Risk Management at Cass Business School, City University. He is also a Fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford University, a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries, a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society and an Honorary Member of the Society of Actuaries of Poland. He has written widely on various subjects related to economic policy, including Catholic social teaching. He is editor and co-author of Catholic social teaching and the market economy and Christian Perspectives on the Financial Crash and, most recently, author of International Aid and Integral Human Development. He has previously worked as a consultant advisor at the Bank of England and was a parliamentary candidate in the 1997 general election.


Professor David Crystal is one of the world's leading experts on language and linguistics. Formerly Professor of Linguistics at Reading University, he is now Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor, and President of the National Literacy Association. He was educated at St Mary's College, Crosby and University College, London. He has written more than 40 books including The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, The St John Gospel and Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language, and numerous articles on the language of liturgy.


Professor Felipe Fernandez-Armesto joined the history department of the University of Notre Dame, Indiana in 2009. This is one of the leading Catholic universities in the USA and is one of the oldest, having been founded by the Congregation of the Holy Cross in 1844. Professor Fernandez-Armesto teaches at its London Centre. Previously he occupied chairs at Tufts University and London University (Queen Mary's College) and before that was an Oxford don. He has had visiting appointments at many universities and research institutes in Europe and the Americas, and has honorary doctorates from La Trobe University and the Universidad de los Andes. His latest book 1492: The Year Our World Began has just been issued in paperback.


Mrs Fordyce is a former Chairman of the Governing Body of Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. She is an author of a chapter on St Margaret Ward in English Catholic Heroines and is a former Wimbledon doubles finalist. She is Vice-Chairman of the Association of Catholic Women.


Professor Luke Gormally is the former Director and Senior Research Fellow of the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics, described by Bishop Anthony Fisher O.P. as "not just the premier Christian bioethics institute in Britain but one of the finest in the world, Christian or secular". It was recently renamed the Anscombe Bioethics Centre after the famous philosopher and Catholic convert, Professor Elizabeth Anscombe (Professor Gormally's late mother-in-law). From 2001-06 Professor Gormally was also Research Professor at Ave Maria School of Law, Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life and a Knight of the Order of St Gregory the Great.


Mr Gormally is the highly respected former Headmaster of Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. The Secretary of State for Education, the Right Honourable Michael Gove MP, recently described Mr Gormally as being one "of the most conspicuously inspiring leaders in the field" of Catholic education.


Lord Grantley brings a wealth of campaigning experience to the VPAG. He is a former councillor for the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, and was a member of the House of Lords from 1995-99. He is a Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and a Director of the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth. Born in 1956 and educated at Ampleforth and Oxford, Lord Grantley spent most of his professional life as a banker, retiring in 2005. He was a patron of Save Sloane Square, which in 2007 won an historic victory to prevent the Council from turning the square into a crossroads. Lord Grantley comes to us not as a parent or indeed with any involvement in the School, but as a supporter of Catholic causes who believes that the VPAG’s campaign is crucial to the future of Catholic education in England and Wales.


Eric Hester was for twenty-four years a head master of Catholic schools – one a mixed comprehensive and the other an independent boys’ grammar school.  He was for some years a chief examiner at “O” level for his subject, English Literature, for one of the examination boards and still does some examination work.  Currently he is a school governor of a Catholic school and he writes for the Catholic press about educational matters. He is a lead inspector of independent schools and has led over fifty inspections and written the reports. At a university education department, he is an external examiner and occasional lecturer. He and his wife have three sons of whom two are Catholic head masters (the other is now a barrister having previously been an officer in the Royal Marines) and their daughter, who also taught, looks after her four children at the Catholic boarding school where her husband is a head of department.  Eric Hester and his wife have ten grandchildren, the ones of school age all at Catholic schools. He says that his experience of nearly fifty years in schools has taught him that schools with the most autonomy do best and he emphasizes that all Catholic teaching on Catholic schools gives parents the main responsibility, others being responsible for assisting parents. He and his wife live in the Diocese of Salford and attend Mass in the parish where they were baptized, confirmed and married.


Born in Staffordshire in 1928, Paul Johnson was editor of the New Statesman in the 1960s and has written around 50 books including A History of Christianity (Weidenfeld and Nicholson 1976), A History of the Jews (Weidenfeld and Nicholson 1987), Pope John Paul II and the Catholic Restoration (St Martin's Press 1982), The Papacy (Weidenfeld and Nicholson 1997). Mr Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush in 2006. Three of his ten grandchildren have been or are pupils at Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School.


Sir Paul Kennedy is a former judge of the Court of Appeal and currently serves as Interception of Communications Commissioner. He was educated at Ampleforth College and Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, of which he is an Honorary Fellow. He also has an Honorary Doctorate from Sheffield University. During his 40 year career as a judge he served as a Recorder on the North Eastern Circuit from 1971-83, a High Court Judge of the Queen's Bench Division from 1983-92, a Lord Justice of Appeal from 1992-2005 and remains a member of the Court of Appeal of Gibraltar. He was knighted in 1983 and became a Privy Counsellor in 1992. He was appointed Interception of Communications Commissioner by the Prime Minister in 2006, and in April 2009 was reappointed for a further three year term. In late 2009, following recommendations by the auditor Sir Thomas Legg that a number of MPs be required to repay certain expenses claimed, Sir Paul was appointed by the House of Commons to decide on appeals by MPs against the rulings.


Edward Leigh was born in 1950. He was educated at St. Philips School, London, the Oratory School, Berkshire, the French Lycee in London. He studied History at Durham University and was president of the Union Society. He is the younger son of Sir Neville Leigh K.C.V.O., former clerk to the Privy Council. He is married with three daughters and three sons. Mr Leigh is a barrister and a member of the Inner Temple, practising for Goldsmiths Chambers in arbitration and criminal law. Mr Leigh was a member of the Richmond Borough Council and then the greater London Council from 1974 until 1981. He was elected as a Member of Parliament for Gainsborough & Horncastle in the July 1983 General Election. In May 1997 he was elected Member of Parliament for the new Seat of Gainsborough. He was a member of the Social Security Select Committee and Joint Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee. Between 2001 and 2010 he was Chairman of the influential Public Accounts Committee - a role he relinquished after serving the maximum term. He is a Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Mr Leigh's website can be found here


Lord Lexden is the title taken by Alistair Cooke, who was appointed a Conservative working peer in November 2010. He is a political historian who spent most of his career in the central organisation of the Conservative Party. A graduate of, Cambridge, he taught and researched modern British and Irish history at Queen's University, Belfast, before becoming political adviser to Airey Neave, Conservative Spokesman on Northern Ireland (1977- 1979). He was Assistant and then Deputy, Director of the Conservative Research Department from 1983 - 1987 and Director of the Conservative Political Centre, the Party's educational wing from 1988-1997. He was General Secretary of the Independent Schools Council from 1997-2004 and consultant to the Conservative Research Department from 2004-2010. He has been the Conservative Party's official historian since 2009. His many other roles include President of the Northern Ireland Schools' Debating Competition. Lord Lexden's letters, usually on historical subjects, appear frequently in the national press. He has just had his 100th letter published in The Times and he holds what the Daily Telegraph believes to be the record for one person of 160 letters from one person published in that newspaper!


Colin Mawby is a distinguished English composer, organist and choral conductor.

He attended Westminster Cathedral Choir School, where he acted as assistant to George Malcolm at the organ from the age of 12. He subsequently studied at the Royal  College of Music and became Master of the Music at Westminster Cathedral in 1961.  In 1976 he moved to Dublin to become choral director at  Radio Telefis Eireann and was later artistic director of the  National Chamber Choir of Ireland.  He founded the  RTE Philharmonic Choir in 1985.    He retired in 2001.

Colin Mawby is a prolific composer of music for the English Catholic liturgy, including 30 Masses; among his best known compositions are an Ave Verum Corpus for choir and a setting of Psalm 23 which won fame in the recording by Charlotte Church.

He has a long association with Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School; he composed a piece for the ordination of former Headmaster Fr. Anthony Pellegrini, and the Schola has sung many of his compositions around the world, including his Exsultate Deo which features on a Schola CD recording.


Charles Moore is a journalist and author. He was born in 1956 and educated at Eton, and Trinity College, Cambridge where he read History. He is a convert to Catholicism. He has been editor of The Spectator (1984-90), the Sunday Telegraph (1992-95) and The Daily Telegraph (1995-2003). He resigned from the last post to spend more time writing Margaret Thatcher's authorised biography, which will be published after her death. As well as writing the biography, he currently writes weeky columns in both The Daily Telegraph and The Specator and is Consulting Editor of the Telegraph Group. He is the chairman of the think tank, Policy Exchange and of the Rectory Society. He was a member of the Council of Benenden School from 2000-20009. Publications (with A.N. Wilson and G. Stamp): The Church in Crisis, 1986; co-editor: of A Tory Seer: the selected journalism of T.E. Utley, 1989.


Judith Mossman is Professor of Classics at the University of Nottingham, and was formerly a Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin. She was educated at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, Woldingham, and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and was a governor of Woldingham School from 1990-93. She is the author of two books and a number of edited volumes and articles on Euripides and Plutarch, and frequently gives talks on classical subjects to schools and summer schools. From 2005-9 she was Chair of the Joint Association of Classical Teachers (JACT) Classical Civilisation Committee.


Cristina Odone is an Italian-American Catholic author, journalist and broadcaster. Born in 1960 and educated at various schools and Oxford University, she was editor of the Catholic Herald from 1992-1996, deputy editor of The New Statesman from 1998-2004, and for six years, wrote a column for The Observer. She has written for The Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph and The Spectator. She was a regular contributor to Thought for the Day from 1995-2003, and in 2005, made a Dispatches programme for Channel 4 on "Women Bishops". She broadcasts widely, including for Question Time, the Today programme, Channel 4 News, Woman's Hour and the Jeremy Vine show and she has a regular blog at The Daily Telegraph. She is a research fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies, for whom she has written a number of pamphlets, including one on faith schools, In Bad Faith (2008) and Assisted suicide: how the chattering classes got it wrong (2010). She has also written four novels.


Professor Thomas Pink is Professor of Philosophy at King's College, London. After reading history and philosophy at Cambridge, where he obtained a PhD, and working for four years in London and New York for a City merchant bank, he returned to philosophy in 1990 as a Research Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge. He then lectured at Sheffield University prior to moving to King's in 1996. He is the author of Free Will: A Very Short Introduction, and other works, and an editor of London Studies in the History of Philosophy.


Piers Paul Read is a novelist and playwright, born in 1941, was educated at Ampleforth College and St John's College, Cambridge. He was Artist in Residence at the Ford Foundation in Berlin (1963-4), Harkness Fellow, Commonwealth Fund, New York (1967-8), a member of the Council of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (1971-5), a member of the Literature Panel at the Arts Council, (1975-7), and Adjunct Professor of Writing, Columbia University, New York (1980). From 1992-7 he was Chairman of the Catholic Writers' Guild. Many of his books have a powerful Catholic theme. His novels and non-fiction books have won a number of awards and several have been filmed for cinema and television. He has lived in London for many years and his two sons attended Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. Those who know something of the history of the School may remember the events in the mid 1980s when the Diocese made appointments to the Governing Body and then tried to remove the School's sixth form. Piers Paul Read was one of the leading members of the Vaughan Parents' Action Group formed at that time to fight to keep the sixth form. The present VPAG draw much comfort and hope from the fact that Piers Paul Read and his fellow parents and friends won that fight.


Dr John Martin Robinson is a writer and one of Britain's foremost architectural historians. He was educated at the Benedictine school of Fort Augustus and at Oriel College, Oxford where he obtained a D.Phil. He is the biographer of Cardinal Consalvi (the Vatican's representative at the Congress of Vienna) and author of The Dukes of Norfolk: A Quincentennial History, Treasures of the English Churches and of the official guide books to Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace. He is Maltravers Herald Extraordinary, one of Her Majesty's Officers of Arms, and Librarian to the Duke of Norfolk. He is Vice-Chairman of the Georgian Group and a trustee of the Lakelands Arts Trust. He serves on the architectural advisory committee of some of our most important Catholic churches. He is a Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. His latest book, Arundel Castle, has just been published.


Dr Richard Shephard, an Anglican, is a former Headmaster, a former chairman of the Choir Schools Association and one of the most significant composers of church music today. After studying under David Willcocks at Cambridge he became a teacher at Salisbury Cathedral School and a lay clerk in the Cathedral Choir. He was Headmaster of York Minster School for 19 years until 2004. He has written operas and orchestral music but  is best known for his choral works, of which he is one of the most frequently performed and broadcast composers. He has been commissioned by many cathedrals and churches and by the Three Choirs Festival and the Southern Cathedrals Festival. He also has a considerable following in America where his operas and other compositions have become part of the general repertoire. He is a Visiting Fellow in the Music Department at York University and a Visiting Professor in the Music Department at the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee; he has received honorary doctorates from both. He has served on the Archbishop's Commission on Church Music and the Church Music Commission on Cathedrals, and has been awarded a Lambeth Doctorate in Music. He is a Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music.


Anthony Speaight is a senior barrister and a Bencher of the Middle Temple. He is a commercial practitioner specialising in technology and construction law. He was educated at St Benedict's School, Ealing and Lincoln College, Oxford. He has served as a member of the Bar Council, and as Chairman of the Access to the Bar Committee and of the editorial board of Counsel, the journal of the Bar of England and Wales. He is author of The Law of Defective Premises and editor of the Architect's Legal Handbook. He is a Freeman of the City of London and has received the Robert Schuman silver medal from the FVS Foundation of Germany. 


Sir Swinton Thomas is a former judge of the Court of Appeal. He was educated at Ampleforth College and at Lincoln College, Oxford, after serving with the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) from 1950-51. He served as a Recorder of the Crown Court from 1975-85, a High Court Judge from 1985-94 and a Lord Justice of Appeal from 1994-2000. He was Vice-Chairman of the Parole Board in 1984. He was knighted in 1985 and became a Privy Counsellor in 1992. After retiring from the bench he served as Interception of Communications Commissioner from 2000-06. He was Vice-Chairman of the Archbishop of Westminster's Working Party on Child Protection in 2000-01. He is a Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory the Great and Chairman of the Association of Papal Orders in Great Britain.


Dr Ralph Townsend is the Headmaster of Winchester College. A Catholic, he was educated in Australia and at Keble College, Oxford. In his early career at Oxford, where he taught in the Theology Faculty, he was Senior Scholar at Keble, Dean of Degrees at Lincoln College and Warden of St Gregory's House. He became successively Head of English at Eton, Headmaster of Sydney Grammar School and Headmaster of Oundle. He has served on the governing body of a number of Catholic schools, including Ampleforth and Worth. He has written books on Christian spirituality and numerous articles for the Dictionnaire de Spiritualite, the reference book published under the responsibility of the Jesuits. He is an Adviser to the National College of Music in London and a Trustee of the United Church Schools Trust.


Professor Mark Watson-Gandy is a barrister specialising in insolvency and company law. He is a Visiting Professor at the University of Westminster and a Visiting Lecturer at Cass Business School (City University). Dual qualified as an accountant, he is the author of "Watson-Gandy on Accountants" and other works, and is Head of Professional Standards for the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers. He is a Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George, and in 2008 was made a Knight of the Order of St Gregory the Great by His Holiness Pope Benedict in recognition of "his work as a barrister and law professor for the Catholic Church".


Ann Widdecombe was educated at La Sainte Union Convent, Bath and the Universities of Birmingham and Oxford. She became a Catholic in 1993. After a spell at Unilever she served as Senior Administrator at London University. She was MP for Maidstone from 1987-97 and for Maidstone and The Weald from 1997-2010. She served as a Minister at the Departments of Social Security and Employment and at the Home Office from 1990 to 1997, when she became a Privy Councillor, and subsequently as Shadow Health Secretary and Shadow Home Secretary. When the expenses scandal broke she was described by The Daily Telegraph as one of the "saints" among all MPs. She subsequently declined an invitation to become British Ambassador to the Holy See for medical reasons. She is an Honorary Fellow of Canterbury Christ Church University and in January 2011 was joint President of the North of England Education Conference. She is a member of the Conservative Christian Fellowship and has recently become an envoy on religious freedom for Aid to the Church in Need.