Who We Are - Meet our Team
Veronica Bennetts - Director of Education, M. Ed. FRSA
Veronica Bennetts is a musician whose career spans teaching, composing, performing and directing. She trained at Homerton College, Cambridge. She holds a Master of Education degree in Arts in Education and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. She founded the Jigsaw Music Theatre and the Jigsaw Community Theatre in Chester, where she was also Musical Director of the Chester Mystery Plays. Veronica has written, compiled and piloted material for BBC television, including directing live transmissions of her work and judging new hymns for Songs of Praise.
Veronica has wide experience in Music Education. She has taught across the age-range in a variety of schools and colleges. She is Stagecoach's Director of Education and the founder of The Midlands Choir, composing commissioned works for The Dome, Coventry Cathedral, The Queen's Jubilee, Sadler's Wells and The Royal Albert Hall.
Nicola Cutcliffe - Senior Franchise Manager
Nicola trained at Bush Davies and Guildhall in London before working on board P&O cruise liners as an Entertainments Officer & dancer. Back in London she went into recruitment, publishing and PR before having children. She then pursued an acting career, alongside joining Stagecoach at its inception helping out on a part-time basis with the Agency and PR and eventually becoming a Stagecoach Principal and running schools for 13 years. She became part of the Stagecoach franchise team in 2005 and sold her Stagecoach franchise in order to become Senior Franchise Manager, working with a dedicated team of Franchise Managers supporting the Stagecoach network.
Matthew Clark - Events Manager
Matthew started his career working in London's West End as a Stage Manager where he worked on several large musicals including Oliver! and Starlight Express. After a year working at the Millennium Dome, he was looking for a more permanent position and found the job of Events Manager for Stagecoach advertised in The Stage newspaper. His role as Events Manager has a very broad spectrum. His responsibilities include managing all large scale events run from Head Office, overseeing the annual showcase production Easy Stages, and arranging all conference and meeting venues. On top of all the events Matt jointly manages the Stagecoach Surrey Performing Arts Schools from Head Office in Walton on Thames, consisting of 10 main schools and 11 Early Stages.
Zeena Hicks - Group Marketing Manager
Zeena joined Stagecoach in 2010 having previously held the roles of Head of Marketing & Development at Arts Educational Schools London and East 15 Acting School. Her specialities include web and brand development, social media marketing, youth vocational performing arts education, student recruitment and offline print management. For the last 12 years she has worked within the performing arts and educational sectors after several years as an professional Actor and Agent's Assistant. In 2004 Zeena set up E15 Management, an artiste's agency which created a platform for newly qualified actors and performers leaving drama school.
Michael McNulty - Chief Executive, The Stagecoach Charitable Trust
Michael graduated with an honours degree in Law and English and holds a PGCE in English. He is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). For The Stagecoach Charitable Trust, of which InterAct is the lead project, Michael has been responsible for developing workshop opportunities for disadvantaged children. Before joining Stagecoach in 2000, Michael ran RE:ACTORS, a theatre company. Earlier he was a Marketing Manager at American Express and also spent some time serving as a police officer for The Metropolitan Police in London.
Michael is also a partner and co-founder of The Performance Business - an arts based training company, offering role-play services for businesses and individuals.
Polly Simmonds - Stagecoach Parties Manager
Following drama college, and five years as a member of The National Youth Theatre, Polly founded her own theatre company where she co-produced and acted in several productions funded by the Arts 4 Everyone National Lottery Fund. Before joining Stagecoach, Polly worked as Company Manager for Bigfoot Theatre Company, a children's arts education company. In addition to managing a team of 10 full time staff and over 50 freelance facilitators, Polly was involved with the writing of courses and workshops for schools and produced several children's theatre tours across the country. In 2006 Polly joined Stagecoach to develop the concept of Stagecoach Parties - a creative and magical experience for children.
Harry Meikle, Chairman
As one of our new Directors, Harry is a welcome addition to Stagecoach Head Office.
Harry is a Member of the Advisory Board at Encore Capital LLP. He has also served as a Group Managing Director at QAS Limited since May 2005 and successfully expanded QAS into new territories outside the UK (Australia, Holland, USA and France. Harry was appointed Managing Director in 2002 and spearheaded the sale of the business to Experian in 2005 for £120m.
He is currently a Chairman of Encore Capital investee company Pure360 and serves as Chairman/Director of Purepromoter Limited. Harry specializes in IT services and is an experienced Senior Executive with a proven track record of 15 years in the 'software as a service' industry.
Richard Dawson ACA, Joint Managing Director
Richard was appointed Joint Managing Director of Stagecoach Theatre Arts in April 2012, as part of the Management Buy Out of Stagecoach.
Richard joined the Board of Stagecoach Theatre Arts as Finance Director in 2001 to manage its flotation to the AIM market. Over the next few years he spent much of his time building up the franchise network in the UK and helping franchisees with their businesses and running successful schools. He was also responsible for launching the Stagecoach franchise business in the USA and Canada.
Richard and his wife Livvy purchased an existing Stagecoach school in 2003 and built this up to three schools and four Early Stages classes, with 200 students, over the next four years. The experience gained as a franchisee has given Richard an appreciation of the responsibility and joy of running a Stagecoach Theatre Arts school.
Prior to joining Stagecoach, Richard qualified as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG in 1995, and he was Corporate Finance Manager at the Bank of Scotland from 1995 to 1998. He co-founded a price comparison shopping website in 1999, before joining Thomson Intermedia as its Finance Director where he was responsible for managing its flotation in 2000.
Richard is passionate about two things: the wonderful benefits we offer children at Stagecoach Theatre Arts; and helping our Principals run successful and rewarding schools.
Manzoor Ishani FRSA, FSALS, FCILS. Franchise Development Director
Manzoor Ishani, a solicitor specializing in international and UK franchising for more than 30 years, was appointed to the Board in 2002. He has assisted franchisors in 30 countries, spoken extensively in the UK and overseas and written numerous books and articles on franchising. A former Advisory Editor of the Journal of International Franchising and Distribution Law, and a member of the Legal Committee of the British Franchise Association, he is a Practicing Associate of the Academy of Experts, International Practice Advisor to the John Marshall Law School (Chicago) and Member of the Board of Advisors of the Suffolk University Law School, (Boston). For Stagecoach, Manzoor is responsible for franchise development, international operations and management of its German division.
Chris Boyle - Finance & Operations Director
Chris graduated in 1986 with a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Chris joins Stagecoach with a wealth of international franchising and financial experience. Chris gained most of this experience at Pirtek where he worked from 1998 to 2012. Over the course of his time at Pirtek, Chris was UK Finance Director, Australian Finance Director, and Global Chief Financial Officer. At Pirtek, Chris gained great satisfaction from helping franchisees grow and develop their businesses. Prior to working at Pirtek, Chris spent four years as Financial Controller in an international events business.
Hilary Wight – StageCoach Canada Senior Principal
Hilary Wight, originally from London, England, has taught singing for StageCoach in various venues. Hilary moved to Canada in 2006, and is very pleased to be bringing StageCoach to Canadian children. Hilary also spent many years as a professional singer, performing in theatres across Europe. She is now dedicated to passing on her skills and knowledge to a new generation. Alongside her husband Mike Wight, Hilary provides support and advice for new franchisees opening schools in Canada as our network expands.
Barbara Price - StageCoach USA Senior Principal
Barbara began her studies in the Radio, TV and Film department of Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa. She completed her degree at Allentown College with a BA in communications. Among her many achievements, Barbara completed a season of summer stock in Pittsburgh, PA and then made her way to the Big Apple where she performed in several off Broadway shows. Barbara's love of theater is equal to her love of radio, TV and film and when opportunity knocked she took her talents to the Pocono Mountains and was hired as the theater critic for WPCN radio. Barbara directed and performed in the Murder Mystery genre of theatre where she became quite well known in the recurring role of Sister Bruno. Barbara completed her studies in 2000 when she earned her MBA in finance at De Sales University in Center Valley, PA.