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​Our Chartist Heritage (OCH) is a small grass-roots organisation comprising a Board of Trustees, three sub-committees responsible for Education, the Chartist Convention and Newport Rising Festival and a growing network of enthusiastic volunteers. We operate as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) and our Registered Charity Number is 1176673).

Our charitable object or purpose is:

The advancement of education for the public benefit in the history and heritage of the Chartist movement by the provision of arts events and activities, talks, exhibitions, conferences, sports and health-related activities, educational materials and by such other means as the Trustees may from time to time determine.


We are a non-party-political charity, committed to promoting and defending Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms the right of all living and working people to participate in the government of their country and civic life. In line with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, OCH is committed to tackling cultural poverty by enabling a more diverse range of people to value and use the rights the Chartists demanded.

We have no employees and no core funding. We raise and spend funds in pursuit of our charitable purpose on a not-for-profit basis. OCH’s regular activities include: the annual Schools Chartist Event; the annual Chartist Convention, at which specialist historians present their most recent research; the annual Chartist Commemoration outside Newport Cathedral, where ten of the Chartists shot outside the Westgate Hotel in 1839 lie in unmarked graves; the annual Chartist Celebrations at the Senedd, hosted by Jayne Bryant, AM, for both school students and adults; and the Newport Rising Festival, which includes a torchlit march in the footsteps of the Chartists from Belle Vue Park to the Westgate Hotel in Newport City Centre.


Who we are


Dr Melinda Drowley - Our Chartist Heritage Chair

Dr Melinda Drowley Chair of the Board of Trustees

Melinda became Chair of Our Chartist Heritage in 2020, after serving for two years as a Trustee and Chair of the Festival Committee. She followed on from Pat Drewett, who first invited Melinda to get involved in OCH in 2016. Although she initially qualified as a Social Worker and Probation Officer, most of Melinda’s career was spent in higher education as Director of Studies at Dartington College of Arts, as Academic Registrar at The University of St Mark and St John in Plymouth and at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where she was Vice Principal (Academic) and undertook a two-year secondment as Associate Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of South Wales. For the last ten years of her career, she worked with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education in the UK and Hong Kong. Originally from Blackwood, Melinda returned to Wales in 2002 after a long sojourn in England and now lives in Caldicot. She is also the Chair of Newport and Gwent Literary Club and a member of the group campaigning and fundraising for a statue of Lady Rhondda in Newport.  


Dr Elin Jones - Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees and Chair of the Education Committee

In 1996 Elin started work in an advisory role with the Qualifications, Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales, with responsibility for regulating history qualifications and developing the curriculum for history as well as its assessment methods, and commissioning history teaching resources. In 2013 she chaired the taskforce that was responsible for preparing a report to the Education Minister on the Cwricwlwm Cymreig (the Welsh perspective on curriculum subjects), history and the story of Wales. Elin Jones is a popular guest on Radio Cymru where she discusses stories and characters from Welsh history.


Matthew Hexter - Trustee


Matthew has worked in Welsh Politics since 2016 as both Caseworker and Researcher. Specific research interests include Welsh Affairs, Devolution, comparative UK Politics, Constitutional law and reform.

Presenter of Hiraeth Podcast and Editor of Hiraeth Blog focusing on Welsh politics and policy.

Matthew is leading on the digital transformation of Our Chartist Heritage


Charles Ferris - Trustee


For 50 years, Charles ran the family business, a café and takeaway at Newport Bus Station, as owner and sole trader. He uses his skills as a salesman to raise funds for the charities he supports, including Our Chartist Heritage. His managerial experience includes the roles of Director of Newport Buses and Chair of Newport Chamber of Trade. Until recently, Charles served as an elected member of Newport City Council and still acts as Council Liaison Officer for the Transporter Bridge and a member of the Mayor’s Charity Committee. Charles believes that Newport’s Chartist history is a great Newport story. It illustrates all the nuances of the politics of the time. In his view it is essential that we look at this story in a non-party-political way, otherwise it just becomes bad history.


Heather Vaughan - Trustee


Heather has been a primary school headteacher for 23 years at St Woolos Primary School, which is in the centre of Newport and is located on the route of the original Chartist March. She believes that Newport’s historic connection with the Chartist Movement and the Newport Rising in 1839 is a key USP for the city. As a headteacher, she encourages children to celebrate Newport’s unique history, for example, through re-enactments, and also ensures that they develop an understanding of democracy at all levels and the role they can play in helping to shape decisions.
Heather brings a wealth of educational experience to OCH, with experience of inspecting, secondments within education and membership of Newport’s SACRE (Standing Advisory Committee on Religious Education). She serves on both the Board of Trustees and the OCH’s Education Committee.

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Chris JH England (Treasurer)

Chris trained as an accountant with Coopers & Lybrand (now PWC) in Nairobi & Cardiff. He held various senior financial positions with Dunlop, Smith’s Industries, American Motors Corporation, CH Bailey Group and others including Porth Textiles – the largest manufacturer of Christmas decorations and artificial trees in Europe! Following the insolvency of Porth Textiles (six months after he joined – so not his fault!) Chris became a corporate insolvency & finance manager with Deloittes. He is now a semi-retired accountant looking after a number of small clients and is also a trustee of six organisations, including Our Chartist Heritage. He was the first chair of Newport City Homes, serving for seven years in that role and a further four years as a trustee. Chris is a firm believer that if one has the opportunity to give something back to a community one should grab the opportunity with both hands. 


David Daniel (Project Director)

As Project Director for Our Chartist Heritage and Festival Director for Newport Rising, David Daniel combines his expertise in digital outreach and community engagement. He skillfully connects historical narratives with contemporary issues, fostering an appreciation for social justice and democracy. David's leadership in organising educational programs and festivals has been instrumental in enhancing community participation and awareness.

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Lucilla Jones (Project Assistant)

As the Project Assistant at Our Chartist Heritage, Lucilla Jones plays a key role in supporting various aspects of project delivery. Her responsibilities include aiding in the organisation and coordination of the Newport Rising Hub, providing administrative support, and contributing to the successful implementation of educational and outreach programs.

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