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.

Duane Fitzsimons

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 Gordon

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.

Jane Heyn

Jane joined the board of Portico in the Spring of 2024. Born and raised in the Glens of Antrim, she spent most of her adult life accompanying her diplomat husband crossing continents, from South America via Europe to Asia.

In Myanmar she founded and directed the Irrawaddy Literary Festival ( Now settled on the Ards Peninsula she is picture framing from her home workshop. Jane enjoys all art forms and is particularly fond of reading, movies and theatre.

Naomi McCallum

Naomi joined the board in February 2024. She is an established business owner, running an award-winning beauty salon in Portaferry since 2017.  Naomi champions campaigns to “Support Local” and is passionately committed to social and economic development in the local area.

Naomi is also a dedicated fundraiser and each year creates events to support the Cancer Fund For Children and Angel Wishes. 

Lisa McManus

With family ties to Portaferry,  Lisa relocated to Portaferry in 2020 and is keen to support her local community. She believes that Arts events give a feeling of togetherness and make a difference to community well-being.  

Lisa has worked overseas in international development for most of her professional career having worked in leadership roles for the British Council, BBC Media Action and most recently for NI-CO (a NI Government owned not for profit company) and the World Bank. She has managed capacity building programmes for national ministries in Jordan, Somalia and Ethiopia. She also has significant experience in media development and engagement with marginalised groups in conflict and post conflict operating environments.

David McMullan

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.