These are the members of our board.

Jeremy Lucas

Jeremy was a Member of Essex County Council from 1989-1993 and 2001-2013. In 2006 he became a Cabinet Member, with responsibilities over the years extending to include the Arts, Heritage, Culture, Libraries, the Environment and Customer Services,  He’s enthusiastic about theatre, art, sport (especially cricket) and his lifelong home county of Essex.

Seona Ford (Chair)

Born and bred in Essex of Scottish parents, Seona has spent much of her career working in education in the county. Throughout her life she has nurtured and developed a tremendous interest in books and writing. She belongs to several literary societies, writes poetry and is very proud to be Chair of Essex Book Festival.

Jim MacDonald

A career in finance might appear an unlikely background for a lover of books; although, government circulars do have a degree of intrigue! Jim brings his professional experience and enthusiasm for books to the board. A wide reader, he enjoys  recommendations of The Times and Independent and keeps a keen eye on the Booker Prize.


Camilla Shestopal

Camilla is passionate about books, being involved in publishing throughout her career.  She has been involved in selling rights in all areas of publishing on authors and children’s brands and formerly was a director at Peters, Fraser & dunlop focusing on Estates to bring well-known names of the past back into the public consciousness.  She has recently started her own agency called Shesto Literary.

An image of Pat Gaudin

Pat Gaudin

Pat loves books, has belonged to her book group for over 20 years, and has attended the Festival since its inception. A career in public relations/communications most recently as an independent consultant in the local public sector across East Anglia, London, Hertfordshire; lecturer on PR degree and diploma courses; trustee of Essex Coalition of Disabled People and Director of Purple; and member of Chelmsford Mildmay Rotary.

Peter Donaldson

Peter Donaldson

Peter has been professionally involved with books since 1978 when he and his wife Sarah founded Red Lion Books, Colchester’s award-winning independent book shop. He has always believed that books and reading play a hugely important part in building a healthy and happy society and that the Essex Book Festival’s inspiring events and projects help make Essex a wonderful place to live.