Prof Neil McClure - Chair
Neil was the driving force behind the transformation of Portaferry Presbyterian Church into the Portico of Ards. In 2007, he set up the charity the Friends of Portaferry Presbyterian Church (renamed Portico of Ards Ltd in 2020) with five other congregation members and successfully raised £1.6m. He managed the restoration of the church in 2014-2015 and its opening as an Arts and Heritage Centre in 2016. Neil has been recognised for his work in rescuing a heritage building with a ‘Heritage Angel’ award.
Neil continues to play a significant role at Portico, strategically, as Chair of the Board, and operationally, by giving support to the management team, particularly within the classical music programme. On a practical level, he carries out much of Portico’s maintenance work and supervises the care of the garden and grounds. Neil also directs Portico’s community choir, the NewQuay Singers.
Neil retired from his role as Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Queen’s University Belfast in 2020. He is a keen amateur musician, gardener and DIY enthusiast.
Chris Bunting - Treasurer
Chris joined the Portico board in 2023 after spending several months as a volunteer with us.
Chris is a life sciences entrepreneur with over 30 years of business experience in the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device industries. He now works with technology start-ups in the UK and the US to help them raise funds to bring their ideas to market.
Chris grew up in Northern Ireland and has worked in the UK and abroad since the late 1980s. He and his family returned in 2021, moved to Portaferry and took an interest in volunteering at Portico. One day he made the mistake of mentioning he was good with numbers….
When not doing his day job or helping out at Portico, Chris loves to sail.
Matthew Ward - Chair of finance sub-committee
Matthew is a Chartered Accountant, with a background in supporting the venture capital fundraising process for multiple scale up businesses from a wide range of sectors across the UK and Europe.
Following participation in Arts and Business NI's 'Young Professionals on Arts Boards' programme, Matthew joined Portico as Chair of the finance sub-committee.
Matthew is also a keen musician, playing Bass guitar in a four piece wedding band and thoroughly enjoys live music and comedy events.
Robin McClelland - Secretary
Robin joined the Board of Portico in 2021 and became Secretary in 2022. He was formerly a Non-Executive Director on the Board of the Health & Social Care Business Services Organisation, from 2009 to 2017. Since 2018 he has been a Trustee Board Member of Community Advice Ards and North Down (formerly Citizens Advice Ards and North Down), and Vice Chair since September 2019. He is experienced in dealing with human resources, corporate governance, strategic planning and financial oversight.
Robin is retired trade union official with the Northern Ireland Public Services Alliance. He has a keen interest in music and theatre and is an amateur composer.
Naomi Bailie Doran
Naomi joined the Board in 2022. After working as political adviser and researcher, Naomi was a councillor for Sinn Fein for several years and served as Chair of Newry Mourne and Down Council before illness stopped her career five years ago. Following a long recovery process, Naomi is now keen to use her experience in outreach work and community connections to help build a better Portaferry.
Naomi is from, and lives in, Portaferry. She particularly enjoys comedy events.
Duane Fitzsimons joined the Board in 2022. Duane is a heritage tour guide and runs Lecale Peninsula Tours. He has extensive local heritage knowledge and has published two books on the history of religion in the Lecale area. Duane is a Director of Ardglass Development Association.
Duane works for Belfast City Council promoting outdoor activities.
Alison joined the Board in 2021. She is the co-founder and development director of Open House, which delivers a month-long festival in Bangor each year, plus a year-round programme of events. In 2022 Open House opened an independent music and arts venue in the former Court House on Bangor seafront, following a 7 year fundraising campaign, a £1.7m restoration project, and Northern Ireland’s first Community Asset Transfer. Her 20 year involvement with Open House has given her broad experience in managing a small arts charity, including fundraising and sponsorship, budgeting and financial management, strategic planning, marketing, governance and event management.
Alison lives in Bangor and enjoys all kinds of arts events.
Howard joined the Board in 2020. He is the Chairman of Hastings Hotels, a family business which owns and operates six hotels in Northern Ireland. The company also owns 50% of the prestigious Merrion Hotel in Dublin. Howard is currently also on the boards of Titanic Belfast and Food NI. Previous board memberships include Visit Belfast, the NI Centenary Advisory Panel, NI Tourist Board (Chair 2009-2015), Tourism Ireland (2000-2016), NI Hotels Federation (Founding President 1999-2001) and Investors in People UK (1994-2000). Howard was awarded an OBE in 2014 for services to Tourism and Hospitality.
David is a founder member of the Board from 2007 and a member of the Portaferry Presbyterian congregation (who are now Portico’s tenants).
David is Forester with DAERA’s Plant Health Division. With his considerable expertise and interest in plants, he also helps to maintain Portico’s grounds.