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Who's Who

Master - Anthony David Whiteoak Robinson Esq

The intention was that David would be called David Whiteoak (in common with his paternal grandfather) and so as to avoid confusing future generations, the name Anthony was added before the others.  His thoughtful mother was concerned to avoid the nickname "Jackdaw" being applied at school!  That was all well and good, until the Registrar introduced the "h" into Anthony; David's father a Latin scholar admired Mark Antony and desired the Shakespearian spelling of the name.  David has learned to live with the fact he is a living spelling mistake. 

David was never called Jackdaw through his life at school at The Dragon and St. Edward's Schools, Oxford where he showed himself less interested in academic matters than was thought appropriate by his teachers.  Instead his attention was taken by theatre, appearing in, directing and producing plays on the school stages. On leaving school and facing an uncertain future, inspiration came from two otters playing on the surface of a loch in Angus and eschewing Leeds University's offer of a place to read environmental economics instead he persuaded the Central London Polytechnic which offered a law degree from London University to offer him a place.

Embarking on what turned out to be a career in the law, David discovered the true meaning and sense of advice given by a kindly (brilliant) Housemaster: “The boy who will succeed in life is the boy who can find twenty-five hours in a twenty-four hour day”.  

Theatre continued to hold David's interest through his degree course and articles, as a member of the Polytechnic's "Poly Players" and then as one of the founder members of The Medicine Ball Theatre Company which was an offshoot of the London Debutante scene of the early 1970's.  Five years of producing shows on Edinburgh's Fringe Festival were capped by two short runs for two of those shows on West End Stages. In September 2019, David returned as producer of a West End Show once again, but this time for one night only. The show “An Amazon Stept Out” told the story of Mary Wollstonecraft, was a fundraiser and sold out the Lyric Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue.

David was a partner in Pinsent & Co (now Pinsent Masons) before joining Holman Fenwick Willan; retiring from the latter in April 2018.

His maternal grandfather, a great shot and enthusiastic fly fisherman introduced David to the sports that have occupied many summer holidays in Scotland and during the autumn and winter in the South.  The love of those sports, the countryside where they are pursued, and the people engaged in them has sustained and excited him despite living for most of his life in central London. 

India plays a special role in David’s life, it was in Delhi in 1944 that his parents met and it was in Delhi that David proposed to Claire in December 1981.  They had attended the wedding of a school friend and joined a tour with the newlyweds around the magic triangle and to Nepal. They were married in June 1982. They have three adult children, Michael an Estate Agent and Liveryman Founder, Celia a consultant with Deloitte and Freeman Founder, and Lucy whose passion for fine food and especially truffles has taken her into the business of marketing this savoury.  The whole family are fine fly fishers and the young are also very keen sporting shots. Annual summer holidays are taken in Scotland, enabling David to relive holidays of his youth in Angus, though in these times the hills and rivers further North and West hold their attraction. Preferred winter holidays are taken in the Alps, skiing.

David is a trustee of several charities including one that has built and maintains an hospital for the destitute in Bhawani Mandi which is a railway town between Delhi and Mumbai in South Rajasthan and an educational charity that provides materials for the study of the life and legacy of Mary Wollstonecraft.  He has served as Churchwarden in two parishes, first at Preston Bagot (near Stratford upon Avon) before moving to London and joining St Andrew's and St John's Church in Chelsea’s World's End.  David is now a member of the congregation of Chelsea Old Church which is the church in which (when before its restoration) he was baptised the day before the coronation of Her Majesty the Queen in June 1953.

David is a member of Brooks's and a dining club called The Thunderers.

He joined Founders Company in 2006 and has served on several of its committees, notably as Chairman of the Charity, Governance and Audit Committees.


Upper Warden - Professor John Vivian Wood CBE

John describes himself as an “atomic anarchist” at heart having spent most of his life putting atoms where they did not want to be. He has worked at a number of UK universities ending up as Principal of Engineering at Imperial College. On leave from Nottingham University he was chief executive of the national basic science laboratories based at the Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory where he became involved in international science policy. During this period he held the UK Government’s share and was founder director of the Diamond Light Source – the largest single investment in UK science to date. He was the second chair of the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures responsible for mapping out the large research facilities (including in arts and humanities) that would be needed over future decades. He chaired the international steering group that led to the decision by 14 countries to build the European X-ray Free Electron Laser in Hamburg and for this he was made an “Officer of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.” As a consultant to the European Commission he was chair of the European Research Area Board and also the group that produced the seminal report “Riding the Wave – how Europe should plan for the tsunami of future scientific data.” This led to the creation of the Global Research Data Alliance which now boasts the free sharing of data between scientists in over 140 countries and has pioneered the current support for Open Science and Open Innovation.

Retiring from academia he found himself as Secretary-General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities bringing together universities from around the Commonwealth many of whom he has visited albeit with an armed guard in a number of cases! He holds honorary doctorates from universities in Romania, India and Ghana and is an honorary citizen of Cluj-Napoca in Romania, the capital of Transylvania! He holds a number of honorary and visiting professorships, is on the council of Brunel University and an adviser to a number of universities in the UK and elsewhere. He was elected as fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1999 and was made a Commander of the British Empire for services to science in 2007.

Currently he is chair of the ATTRACT project advisory board based at CERN in Geneva which involves six European scale laboratories and two universities to develop sensors and instrumentation for applications in medicine, space, environment etc., linked to the “internet of things”. He chairs the board of Aquaffirm, which makes sensors for testing impurities such as arsenic in drinking water and chairs the advisory board of Ciemat, the Spanish centre for research in energy.

He married his wife Alison in 1976 and they have two children, Tom (who is a Founder) and Mary, both of whom are research scientists, and three grandchildren. They have lived since 1984 in a rambling old rectory in 6 acres of woodland on the road that leads to Kimbolton Castle from Bedford where they run a charity for people on the fringes of society such as mentally disadvantaged and ex-offenders. John measured the number of books at their house as needing 150 metres of shelving and he is a mean user of the controller of his cd player where his love is chamber and instrumental music. When not cutting down trees with his chain saw or growing fruit and vegetables he likes to cook and enjoy some “affordable” glasses of wine. He is a Reader in the Church of England and chair of the Christians in Science Trust. He is a trustee of the Episcopal University of South Sudan.

He joined the Company in 1994 and has served on several of its committees, notably as Chairman of the Industry and Charity Committees.


Under Warden - Robert Murray Blake Holmes Esq

Robin joined the Company in 1995 and has served on several of its committees, notably as Chairman of the Property Committee which oversaw the Hall's most recent refurbishment and achieved our Grade Two Listing.



Immediate Past Master - Martin James Shenton Esq

Following his qualifying as a Chartered Certified Accountant and a Chartered Tax advisor, Martin worked for the Wickman Group of Companies as assistant to the CEO before attending Bradford University to obtain a postgraduate diploma in Business Administration. He returned to the Midlands to join the family iron foundry business and became CEO in 1980.

A Fellow of the Institute of Cast Metals Engineers, Martin is also a past National Chairman of the Cast Metals Federation.  He has always been interested in Health and Safety issues at work and was a member of Foundry Industry Advisory Committee on Health and safety where he led the Employers team for many years.

He joined the Company in 1993 and has served on several of its committees, notably as Chairman of the Industry Committee.  He is Captain of the Bridge Team as well as representing the Founders in golf competitions.  Martin thoroughly enjoyed his year as Master even though it was curtailed by the pandemic crisis and continues to take a keen interest in students applying for Founders’ Bursaries each year.

Born and bred in West Bromwich in the Black Country, he has spent most of his life in the area where he is an active member of his local church and also continues to support West Bromwich Albion FC.

He and his wife Geraldine live in Staffordshire and have two daughters and two grandsons. Their younger daughter Faye, although now living in New York, is a Liveryman of the Company.