... to promote, maintain and advance education in the N Ireland, in particular the Portaferry area, (hereinafter called “the area of benefit”) by the presentation of public events including, for example, exhibitions, concerts and recitals for the benefit of the inhabitants of the area of benefit without distinction of age, gender, sexual orientation, disability/ability, race, political, religious or other opinion and in particular to: a) advance education by the provision of appropriate courses, lectures, seminars, concerts, recitals, competitions and workshops; b) provide facilities in the interests of social welfare for recreation and leisure time occupation by providing and making available facilities for the recording and editing of music with the object of improving the conditions of life of people in the area of benefit; c) repair, maintain, improve and reconstruct the property of Portaferry Presbyterian Church.
Portico is owned by a charity that was originally known as the friends of Portaferry Presbyterian Church (fPPC). fPPC carried out the £1.6m restoration of the building in 2015. The charity was formed in 2007 and had 6 Board Members: Ian McDonnell (Chair); Hugh Anderson (Hon Treasurer); Neil McClure (Hon Secretary); Betty Lyttle, David McMullan and Ann Wilson. Ros McMullin replaced Betty Lyttle in 2009.
In 2019, fPPC changed its name to Portico of Ards Ltd. Over the last few years the board membership has changed too and the current board members (as of July 2021) are listed below.
Prof. Neil McClure (Chair)
Neil retired from his role as Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Queen’s University Belfast in 2020. Neil has been the driving force behind Portico, from setting up the charity the Friends of Portaferry Presbyterian Church in 2007 to the inception of Portico. He raised all the funding and project-managed the £1.6m restoration of Portico. Neil continues to play a significant role in practical day to day activities at Portico, effectively acting as an unpaid co-Manager and taking particular interest in the classical music programme.
Neil is also a keen amateur musician and directs Portico’s community choir – the NewQuay Singers. He is organist at Portico and takes workshops on organ matters.
David McMullan (Treasurer)
David is a civil servant in DARD’s Forestry Division and became Treasurer in 2019. He is supported in that role by a finance sub-committee. With considerable expertise and interest in plants, he is primarily responsible for maintaining Portico’s grounds. He is a foundation member of fPPC and has been an enthusiastic campaigner and supporter of the restoration of Portico and the on-going programme of events.
Robbie Wright (Secretary)
Robbie brings entrepreneurial and commercial acumen having worked at all levels in the catering, retail and rehabilitation equipment sectors. Having risen through product development to become a Director and Company Secretary of a private retail business (employing 250+) he has acquired legal and financial awareness as well as having been involved in an Management Buy Out. He has founded from scratch and grown 2 companies selling into both the public and private sectors. The first company (£3m turnover) was sold to a pharmacy group in 2005. He currently runs a small jewellery workshop and online business.
Hugh is a retired chartered accountant. He spent his professional life in industry as a company accountant and business manager. He has a thorough understanding of accountancy issues and was the Hon Treasurer from the charity’s inception until 2019.
Alison is the co-founder and director of Open House in Bangor. Open House now delivers a month-long festival in Bangor each year, plus a year-round programme of events, and an annual placemaking vintage festival called Seaside Revival, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Open House is now a registered charity and contributes around £2m to the local economy annually. The organisation has recently acquired the former Court House, a derelict Victorian listed building on Bangor seafront, via Community Asset Transfer. Alison's 20 year involvement with Open House Festival 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.
Dr Howard Hastings
Since 1989, Howard has been the Managing Director of the Hastings Hotels Group. Hastings Hotels owns and operates seven hotels in Northern Ireland, comprising over 1000 bedrooms. The company also owns 50% of the prestigious Merrion Hotel in Dublin. Howard is currently on the boards of Titanic Belfast, Visit Belfast, Food NI and the NI Centenary Advisory Panel. Previous board memberships include 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.
Robin is retired trade union official (with NIPSA), a former Non-Executive Director on the Board of the Health & Social Care Business Services Organisation (BSO) from 2009 to 2017, and currently a Trustee Board Member of Community Advice Ards and North Down (CAAND, formerly Citizens Advice Ards and North Down) since September 2018 (Vice Chair since September 2019). He is experienced in dealing with human resources, corporate governance, strategic planning and financial oversight.
Robin has a keen interest in music and theatre and is an amateur composer.
Ros has been a member of the Board of The Friends of Portaferry Presbyterian Church (and now Portico of Ards Ltd) since 2010 and was assistant treasurer from 2012 until 2019. She still manages the GiftAid claims on behalf of Portico of Ards Ltd. She is a retired orthodontist and has a keen interest in music.
Suzie has been involved with the Music Theatre for Youth (MT4Uth) Charity in Northern Ireland for over ten years and, as a result, has significant experience in an arts organisation at board level and as both a volunteer and employee. She has a strong interest in local history and heritage and as author of the History of Christ Church Carrowdore, she has firsthand experience in research & writing and in working with local history groups.
As a longtime member of the Newquay Singers, the community choir based at Portico, she has a particular understanding of how Portico works as a venue and how it engages with the local community. This experience, understanding & empathy for Portico is particularly useful in creating relationships with other arts organisations, performers and users of the building.