Headway Surrey (Guildford)

Chair of Trustees

 Chair of Trustees - 4 year term

  • Provides leadership and direction to the Board of Trustees enabling the Board to fulfil their responsibilities for the overall governance and strategic direction of the Trust to enable it to fulfil its purpose.
  • Ensures that Headway Surrey pursues its objects as defined in its governing document, charity law and complies with other relevant legislation/regulations.
  • To ensure an effective relationship between:
    • the Board, FinCom, Joint CEOs and staff
    • the Board and the external stakeholders/community including clients and volunteers
  • Acting as a spokesperson and figurehead at events as appropriate, representing Headway Surrey.
  • To work in partnership with the Joint CEOs, helping them achieve the aims of Headway Surrey and to optimise the relationship between the Board of Trustees and the staff.


  • A willingness to lead the charity, active interest and commitment to the work of Headway Surrey and a desire to effect positive change in the community.
  • A willingness to devote time to carry out responsibilities.
  • Understanding and acceptance of the legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of Trusteeship and adhering to Nolan’s seven principles of public life: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.
  • Balancing tact, diplomacy and persuasive skills with willingness to challenge and constructively criticise.
  • Possesses relevant knowledge and commits to regular training and development to support the role.
  • Has the relevant skills to run a meeting well, ensuring decisions are taken in a timely fashion with all stakeholders fully involved.
  • Committed to supporting all trustees to ensure they are operating effectively individually and as a Board.
  • Requires experience as a Chair, Non-Executive Director or Trustee
  • Requires Senior management and leadership experience with emphasis on strategy, governance, finance, HR, or fundraising.
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to respect the confidences of colleagues.


Time Commitment

  • The overall time commitment is difficult to fully define, but it is likely to be a minimum of 2 days a month, the Board meets at least six times a year, with attendance at Finance Committee meetings (monthly) as required, mainly on Zoom.
  • It is important that the Chair is available to the Joint CEO on a regular basis and is able visit the organisation’s offices as and when required.  
  • In addition to Board Meetings, other contact – usually electronic or by telephone – will be necessary.


Specific Role

  • Strategy - big picture, direction, and values
  • work with the Joint CEOs to ensure that HS has a 3–5-year business strategy in place, has current values, and that all work programmes tie into the strategic direction of the charity.
  • Ensure development of organisational policies, goals, targets and evaluation of performance against agreed targets.
  • Liaise regularly with the Treasurer to maintain a clear grasp of the charity’s financial position and to ensure full and timely financial transparency and information disclosure to the Board.
  • Ensure adherence and compliance around key policies to e.g. Equality of Opportunity, Health & Safety and in all decisions and discussions of the Board and its sub-committees.
  • Attend and be a member of other committees or working groups when appropriate in role as Chair e.g. FinCom.


  • Backstop - when the unexpected happens
  • In conjunction with Trustees, responsible for making arrangements to deal with emergency situations e.g. where restructuring is required, where long-term staff sickness is an issue or where a disciplinary situation arises. The Chairman’s role in these types of situation is to support the Board and Joint CEOs in making decisions. A Chair’s key role is to pick up the pieces when, for whatever reason, things go wrong.

3. Pre-digester & Sounding board - for ideas and developments

  • Plan and prepare the Board meetings and AGM with Joint CEOs as appropriate.
  • Be available to Joint CEOs to discuss and refine ideas and developments that staff are thinking about and to give feedback, support and wise counsel at an early stage.

4. Scrutineer in chief – help the board hold staff to account

  • Part of the nitty-gritty of board work is to hold staff to account – are they doing what they said they would do? - What is going right? What is going wrong? What plans are being made for things that might go wrong? Many boards have a wealth of wisdom, and it is part of the Chair’s job to try and harness that wisdom to improve the plans and activities of the organisation. Even the most qualified of boards may be unable to predict what might go wrong or put plans back on track. Spotting problems early and acting on them early is a key part of the scrutiny process.
  • Ensure that HS workstreams are adequately resourced and managed, are in line with the strategic direction, and are producing measurable results.
  • Hold the Board to account – it is the Chairman’s role to ensure that the work of the Board is supporting the general direction of travel of the charity and not hindering progress, or adding unnecessarily to the charity’s workload – so whilst scrutiny is vital, it must be proportionate and pragmatic, bearing in mind the level of risk, the need to maintain smooth operations of the charity and the level of resource available to the charity. The Chairman must also ensure that the Board is, wherever possible, focusing at the strategic rather than the operational level. 

5. Gracious host - and thanker in chief 

  • One of the most important jobs is to thank everybody who makes things happen: thanking departing trustees, senior staff and donors. Thanking people for their time, their money, their commitment, their loyalty, and their energy is a small yet critical part of what makes charities thrive.
  • To attend HS events where required or support other Trustees to attend and represent the charity.
  • Lead the Board in fostering relations with existing and potential partners, professional bodies and associations, donors and supporters.

6. Manager of the Joint CEOs

  • A Chair’s job is to agree on objectives, provide feedback (from the board and staff) and review progress of the Joint CEOs.
  • In participation with the board, appoint the CEO/CEOs and lead the process of appraising and constructively guiding the performance of the Joint CEOs.
  • Receive regular informal progress reports of the organisation’s work and financial performance through the Joint CEOs.

7. Manager of the board – utilising roles and skills

  • One of the most difficult parts of being a Chair is to keep all trustees fully engaged and their skills used to the full. A portfolio approach, giving trustees a particular role or part of the organisation to take interest in, is really important to this end.
  • Ensure that the Trustee Code of Conduct is adhered to, and when issues arise to intervene and act in a timely manner.
  • With the Joint CEOs’ support, monitor Trustee attendance and engagement, and carry out regular reviews.
  • Annually review the Board structure, role, staff relationships and ensure implementation of agreed changes/developments are carried out.
  • Create a strong, profitable and fulfilling working relationship with Trustees and the Joint CEOs through review and self-reflective evaluation of contributions and effectiveness of the Board.

8. Nudger/nagger - for trustees and staff

  • Through meeting notes, text messages, emails, phone calls, personal conversations, the Chair needs to make sure that staff and Trustees do what they said they would do. This applies whether it was to visit a service, write up a proposal, produce some data, or come to a meeting. 

9. Meeting maestro – on time and inclusive

Chair Board meetings ensuring:

  • Approval of the annual cycle of the board meetings.
  • Agenda is followed
  • A balance is struck between timekeeping and space for discussions.
  • Business is dealt with and decisions made.
  • Decisions, actions and deliberations are adequately minuted.
  • The implementation of decisions is clearly assigned and monitored.
  • Ensure individuals do not dominate the discussions and that all Trustees feel involved in and engaged with decisions. 

10. Ear to the ground – to find out what everybody thinks 

  • Ensure that the Board is receiving an adequate overview of operations – seeking input from other staff and volunteers, not just the Joint CEOs. 

11. Tough decision-maker – when required 

  • On occasions, a Chair’s job is to usher people out of the organisation. This may include making arrangements in regard to the Joint CEOs, but also includes ensuring that term limits for Trustees are kept or restructuring committees to lose a poor committee chair.
  • Act as final stage adjudicator for disciplinary and grievance procedures if required.
  • Facilitate change and address conflict within the Board of Trustees, within the organisation and liaise with the Joint CEOs to achieve this.
  • Undertake review of external complaints as defined by the organisation’s complaints procedure.

12. Cat-herder – moving boards forward on important decisions 

  • One of the roles of the chair is to try and move the Board forward on big or important or difficult decisions, particularly where there isn’t consensus. These might be about the appointment of a new CEO, a change of structure, or a new strategy or a rebrand. Boards don’t always find decision-making that easy, particularly in a culture when one or two board members disagreeing can be treated like a veto. The Chair is there to firmly guide the board towards a decision.

13. Ensure that a successor is found before the term of office finishes.


Mission Statement

Headway Surrey supports people with acquired brain injuries and their families and promotes understanding of the implications of acquired brain injury throughout Surrey.