Our Chief Executive Officer

Paul Tennant

Paul is a senior housing professional and has worked as a Chief Executive for over 20 years. He has led a number of large and community based housing organisations. He has been a Board member and Chair of several organisations and charities inside and outside of the housing sector. He is a Fellow of the CIH and was President in 2013/14, and received an OBE for services to housing in 2016. Most recently he was the CEO of the Law Society for England & Wales leading a major transformation programme. He has always taken an innovative commercial approach and is an experienced transformational leader, providing vision, ambition and direction with a track record of achieving culture change, inspiring and engaging people. 

Our Senior Management Team

Jonathan Sweet, Director of Legal and Compliance & Company Secretary

Jonathan joined Abbeyfield in December 2014, having been the in-house Counsel for Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO). Prior to that, Jonathan was a Solicitor with an international law firm in London. In private practice, Jonathan was a litigator having gained experience of regulatory investigations brought by multiple agencies across several jurisdictions.

Julie Freear, Customer Operations Director

Julie has held a variety of leadership roles during her career, with significant experience of leading and implementing change and transformation, always with a focus on delivering the best results for the customer.
Julie joined Abbeyfield in January 2018 as the Regional Director for the North having worked in a variety of different organisations across public, private and charitable sectors. She became the Experience Programme Director in 2020 following her success on a number of projects within the experience programme.

Gail Manley, HR Director

Gail joined Abbeyfield as HR Director in October 2018. Her career in HR has incorporated leadership roles in a variety of sectors including welfare to work, heath and utilities. Gail ran her own HR consultancy business prior to joining Abbeyfield. She is passionate about ensuring Abbeyfield is a great place to work.

Abiola Yusuf, Finance Director

Abiola joined Abbeyfield in December 2022 and comes with a wide breadth of senior leadership experience.  She is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (FCCA), Affiliate member of the Association of Corporate Treasurers and holds a Master in Business Administration with distinction.  With over 20 years’ experience, leading finance and multi-disciplinary teams within the charity and housing sector, Abiola sits on the Boards of other non-profit organisations including Age UK Buckinghamshire and Christian Action Housing Trust. 

Theresa Wilson, Director of Housing

Theresa joined Abbeyfield in 2012 and recently became the Director of Housing. She spent several years as a Business Manager, effectively leading a number of schemes including care, leasehold and rental across the North East, Yorkshire and East Midlands. Theresa has had a successful career in customer service and is passionate about care and social housing, empowering people to deliver a high quality service. She was delighted to be nominated by her peers in the Making Time Awards where she was the proud winner of the Hero award for outstanding contribution.

Jacqui McCann, Director of Care Operations

Jacqui joined Abbeyfield as Regional Care Operations Manager in January 2021 overseeing care homes in the North of England. Prior to this she worked in Care for 20 years, in both Elderly Care and Learning Disabilities. Her career in care has allowed her to gain valuable experience in the turnaround of homes, thus improving their CQC ratings. She has also worked in Quality and Compliance in the Care Industry overseeing homes nationally. 

Our Trustees

Our Board of Trustees is made up of volunteer members, each selected for their expertise and experience in sectors including housing, care and finance.

Click to view our Committees of the Board table.

Jenny Lawrence, Chair

Jenny became Chair of the Board of The Abbeyfield Society in September 2021.

Jenny has been involved with Abbeyfield since 2011, when she took up the voluntary role of Regional Strategy Head for the north east of England, and has been a Board member since 2014. Based in County Durham, Jenny is a Chartered Management Accountant with over 25 years’ experience working in a range of public and private sector roles. She has specialised in change management projects with a focus on finance systems and is an experienced interim manager and trained coach.

Amanda Houlihan

Amanda has been a Board member since 2014 and is currently Chair of the Remuneration & Nominations Committee.

A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, Amanda has worked in Human Resources for over 25 years, culminating in senior board roles. She has operated in a number of sectors, and has a particular interest in structural and cultural change. She is a trained coach and mentor.

She has been involved with Abbeyfield since 2005, when she became a Trustee for the Buckinghamshire Society and was Chair for 8 years until May 2020.

Sara Beamand

Sara has over 25 years’ experience within the care and sheltered housing environment, prior to this having worked in general needs housing. Sara is currently a director of a consultancy company working with organisations who deliver care and support services in the public, private and voluntary sector.

Sara has a real passion for the delivery of high quality person centred care and support services which deliver excellent outcomes to all individuals receiving services.

She joined the Board of The Abbeyfield Society in November 2017 and currently chairs the Quality Committee.

Chris Smith

Chris retired in 2013 after 10 years as Chief of Staff to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Previously, he was General Manager of C Hoare & Co (Bankers) from 1999 to 2003, General Secretary of the London Diocese from 1993 to 1999, and for 23 years was with Price Waterhouse.

He has been a Deputy Chair of Governors of a major South London girls’ school, as well as Southwark College of Further Education, and spent 17 years as Treasurer of Holy Trinity Church Brompton.

Chris became a Board member in 2015 and is currently Chair of the Audit & Risk Committee. He also sits on the Quality Committee.

George Ashworth

George is an Economics graduate of Aberystwyth University, and holds a postgraduate degree in Business Administration from Middlesex University. A member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, he acquired his professional qualifications in 1979-1980. For more than half of a 40 year career in the financial services sector, he has worked at board level. Until recently, he was the senior independent member of the Board of Aberystwyth University.

George is the Chair of Abbeyfield St Albans Society and joined the Board of The Abbeyfield Society in September 2021. He sits on the Finance Committee.

Mike Turner

Mike was elected as a member of the Board in September 2021 and is a member of the Finance Committee.

Mike is a Chartered Engineer with an MBA from the University of Bath. He has significant experience of asset management within the public sector as well as developing framework solutions within the private sector.

He is an Executive Director of Ian Williams Limited, one of the UK's largest property services companies, and an Executive Director of the National Housing Maintenance Forum (NHMF).

Roger Lees

Roger is a chartered accountant, with over 30 years’ experience in the real estate and financial services sectors.

Roger began at Price Waterhouse and then spent over 20 years as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer for the real estate investment management divisions of Schroders, Aviva Investors and Principal Financial Group. He retired in 2021 to manage his consultancy business. Roger has broad experience of managing risk and governance in a regulated setting and has been an FCA approved director since 2001.

Roger joined the Board in 2021 and is the chair of the Finance Committee.

Marc Marrero

Marc is a data protection and governance specialist with an MSc in Management, Organisations and Governance from the London School of Economics (LSE), and a Bachelor's Degree in International Relations from Tufts University.


He is currently a Director of Data Privacy for Standard Chartered Bank, and previously has had diverse exposure and experience across investment banking, crisis communications, utilities and impact investing. He helps advise firms as they grow into new geographies with evolving regulatory environments.


March joined the Audit Committee in the Autumn of 2021 and became a Board member in September 2022.

Our Patrons

We are lucky to have the support of many patrons, who give their time and expertise to support our work. We thank all our patrons for their continued support.

The former Prince of Wales supported The Abbeyfield Society as a patron for many years and during his time as patron, said of the charity, "It's an enormous pleasure to be your patron. Abbeyfield's work is one of the great examples of how elderly people can be cared for and thank goodness you're there to do exactly that. I hope there will be many, many more years of even greater success in looking after elderly people. Having reached the age I have, I begin to understand exactly what it's all about."

Ian Plaistowe OBE


  • The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Baron Williams of Oystermouth
  • The Duchess of Northumberland
  • Lord John Prescott
  • Harriet Carr-Gomm
  • David Carr-Gomm
  • Adam Carr-Gomm
  • Elizabeth Parker (Carr-Gomm)
  • Anna Newton (Carr-Gomm)
  • Ron Kenyon, OBE
  • Michael Brooks  
  • John Robinson CBE
  • The Rt Hon Baroness Virginia Bottomley of Nettlestone, JP
  • Dame Judi Dench, DBE
  • The Lord Elis-Thomas
  • Michael Staff MBE
  • Alun E Michael, JP
  • Dame Patricia Routledge, OBE
  • Martin Shreeve, OBE MBA DSW BSc (Econ)
  • Professor Alan Walker, DLitt FRSA
  • Aled Jones

Find out more about Abbeyfield

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