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Region Event

IoD North West LGBTQ + Directors Network Dinner at Chester Zoo

06 Feb 2020
Chester Zoo, Chester

Join us for a fabulous evening at Chester Zoo. Meet the lions and lemurs, hear from amazing speakers, and connect with LGBT+ Directors from across the North West and beyond, as part of LGBT History month.

The LGBT+ Directors Network is a brand new IoD North West initiative to provide a space for LGBT+ Directors and allies to help and support each other as we progress through our careers, to increase the visibility of LGBT+ leaders (and so be role models), and to increase our influence and impact as Directors.


16:00 Arrival, registration and networking 
16:30 Private tour of the lion and lemur enclosures
18:00 Pre-dinner drinks - Prosecco or Elderflower Fizz on arrival to The Oakfield
18:30 Three course meal sitting in the Garden Room of The Oakfield
Speakers include Jamie Christon, COO of Chester Zoo, Carl Austin-Behan OBE DL and others to be confirmed... 
20:30 Event closes 

Why a LGBT+ Directors Network? 

At our recent (inaugural) meeting, the group agreed the following purpose: 

1) To raise the confidence of LGBT+ Directors by providing a network of peers that come together virtually and face-to-face.
2) To support LGBT+ Directors of the future by reducing barriers to entry.
3) To make LGBT+ Directors visible
4) To be the go-to place for people looking for speakers, advice or ideas around leadership as an LGBT+ person. 
5) Lobbying for change in areas that affect LGBT+ people (and other minorities as appropriate) in the workplace and in leadership roles.

Please note, we recognise that not all LGBT+ directors who will benefit from the support of this group will wish to be ‘visible’ in terms of speaking opportunities, photos, etc. They are welcome. This group is here to support, not to push!

If you can’t make it to this event, but would still like to join our LGBT+ Directors Network, please register here -

Key details

Date & time: 06 Feb 2020 16:00 - 20:30
Location: Chester Zoo, Chester
CPD Hours:

Prices from

32.00 GBP + VAT - IoD Member
42.00 GBP + VAT - Non-Member

Event manager:
Miss Lauren Mullan
Contact phone:
0161 806 0890
Contact email:


Carl Austin-Behan OBE DL

After joining the RAF at 19 Carl Austin-Behan was sadly forced out due to his homosexuality, but not before he found his name on the 1996 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for his exceptional service, which included saving a pilot from a burning aircraft as well as other remarkable endeavours.
Carl served with Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service between 1998 – 1999 before setting up a promotions company. In his post-RAF career Carl has found great success in a whole host of areas including business, charity, community, politics and beyond.
He raised money for numerous worthy causes including the HIV/AIDS, Manchester Children’s Hospital, Alzheimer’s UK (which involved a trek to Mount Everest Base Camp!) amongst others.
LGBT issues have always been close to Carl’s heart, which is why in 2005 he was appointed Chair of Manchester’s Gay Village Business Association and between 2008 and 2011 he was a member of the Greater Manchester Police Independent Advisory Group, supporting LGBT issues.

In 2010 Carl and his business partner set up VA Clean, celebrating 10 years in 2020 – of which, he still has a very hands-on approach as well as being Managing Director. Carl successfully ran to become Labour Member for Burnage Ward and was also appointed to other important posts within his community.
In 2015, after marrying his long-term partner Simon, Carl became the first openly gay Lord Mayor of Manchester leading to unshakeable action for the LGBTQ+ community and help in raising over half-a-million pounds for the ‘We Love Manchester’ charity.

In 2018 Carl broke new ground yet again, not only was he given an honouree Doctorate from the University of Bolton for services to the community, he was made LGBT Advisor to the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, where to this day he spends a lot of time and energy visiting schools, youth groups, workplaces (both public and private sector) to promote diversity, equality, inclusion and respect.’

In December 2019 Carl was appointed to be a Deputy Lieutenant of The County of Greater Manchester. Then to top it off he was awarded an OBE in the 2020 Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for services to Charity, LGBTQ+ Equality and to the Community across Greater Manchester. 

Jamie Christon BA(Hons)
Chief Operating Officer
Chester Zoo

After graduating from Leicester University with a degree in politics, Jamie spent his first ten years working in core high street food and department store management with various management roles initially in the North West and then across the rest of the UK. In 2003, as UK regional airport dynamics changed, Jamie joined Manchester Airport Group, heading up commercial operations at East Midlands, Humberside and Bournemouth Airports. In 2007, he continued his career as Commercial Director and then latterly Managing Director of Exeter Airport in the South West where he managed the transition from local authority to private sector ownership. During that period, Jamie managed masterplanning, site development and helped improve commercial profitability.

More recently Jamie has been responsible for group on-board operations for Stena Line, one of Europe’s leading ferry operators during a period of rapid expansion and change. Jamie joined the Society in July 2013. He is responsible for business operations at what is the UKs number one zoo. With a turnover of over £35m and nearly 1,000 staff at peak, Jamie leads the team that makes Chester Zoo one of the most visited attractions in the UK.

Jamie is also director of the sub regional DMO, the Local Enterprise Partnership and is a Trustee of Chester Students Union.

Claire Ebrey
Regional Director, IoD North West

Claire is Regional Director for the IoD in the North West, covering Manchester City Region, Lancashire, Cumbria, Cheshire, Liverpool City Region and the Isle of Man. 

In previous roles she worked in Corporate Social Responsibility at the Co-op, running nationwide member engagement campaigns on issues including trade justice, climate change and human rights, where she used innovative channels such as film, theatre and photography to drive member interest and action. She was on the Board of a film academy for young people (which means you can find her on IMDb), and latterly she ran a £1.3m programme to support the development of independent co-operative businesses across the country.

Claire currently secured her Certificate in Company Direction, and is now studying for her Diploma, with a view to becoming a Chartered Director. She has a passion for bringing people together and believes that collaboration across all sectors, shapes and sizes of organisation, can drive real change.

Elaine Clarke
CEO of Baa Bar Group

Recognised as a powerhouse within the hospitality industry, Elaine Clarke, CEO at Baa Bar Group, has influenced and shaped UK nightlife culture throughout her career.

A perfect example of hard work, passion and determination paying off, Elaine began her working life as a Saturday girl at 14, as a waitress at her aunt’s café, the city institutuion Café Tabac, which has now traded successfully from its Bold Street home for over forty years.  

It was here that Elaine’s talent for the hospitality business began to emerge. No stranger to hard work, by the time she had left school she was managing the café bar that she would eventually own. 

Approached in the early 1990s by entrepreneurs Tom Bloxham and Jonathan Falkingham, she went on to join Baa Bar,  launching the flagship Fleet Street venue. This was Liverpool’s first post-industrial bar, nationally acknowledged as a pioneer within the sector and a trailblazing concept in a city dominated by old-man’s boozers.

This was the life defining role for Elaine as she transformed the business and built an identity for the brand that became Baa Bar Group. 

Elaine’s vision to create an independent bar with contemporary music, unique design, good value, great atmosphere that was welcoming to everyone was achieved in Baa Bar; this ‘DNA’ of the business was defined by Elaine and has been developed into the ‘Science of Baa Bar’ as the brand has grown.

Elaine continued to expand her portfolio with Modo launching in 1997 in Concert Square, Liverpool and the iconic Homo-Modo nights and later in the 2000’s venues in Manchester Canal Street and Deansgate Locks launched. 
Customers from the early days describe Baa Bar and Modo as being ahead of the times: open, welcoming places for everyone with mixed crowds and electric atmosphere - these iconic features continue in the brands today. 

From a £250,000 turnover in 1992 to £10.9m in 2013, the portfolio of bars grew to eleven strong at Baa Bar Group’s height.  Elaine has sold some sites along the way and today, 29 years on from her early Baa Bar days, Elaine oversees 5 venues that continue to innovate, grow and push forward in a more competitive market than ever. 

Alongside her significant responsibility at Baa Bar Group, Elaine has also contributed in volunteer roles as director at Manchester Pride and Patron of Liverpool HIV and AIDS charity, Sahir House.  

Her industry success can be attributed to her drive for creating experiences that are always progressive and relevant, with attention to detail and the best music and atmospherics at all her venues.  She’s certainly doing something right as the original Baa Bar is now 29 years old and is as popular with clubbers today as it was back in 1991.  


Set in 125 acres of award-winning zoological gardens, welcoming 1.9 million visitors a year.

We have over 15,000 animals at the zoo, but we help thousands more around the world through our conservation and education activities.

The zoo’s mission is to be a major force in conserving the living world. To this aim we currently care for more than 500 different species in the zoo - about half of which are endangered. Every effort goes into ensuring the highest standards of welfare and the best care is given to all our animals, from the tiny snails to the tall giraffes.

At each habitat there are unique ways of learning about the animals too, by reading, touching and smelling the information panels. By simply observing we can all learn so much more about the animals, their natural habitats and what makes them so special and worth conserving.

But our charitable work extends well beyond the zoo’s perimeter. At home and abroad, we support and conduct over 70 conservation projects and education around the world. We know not everyone can be as hands on as we are, so we’ve created Act for Wildlife, a conservation campaign that gives you the chance to get involved and make a real difference for wildlife conservation around the world.


Prices from

32.00 GBP + VAT - IoD Member
42.00 GBP + VAT - Non-Member


Please tick here to indicate that you have read and agree to the Terms and Conditions for this booking.

  • Chester Zoo
  • Oakfield House
  • Caughall Road
  • Chester
  • CH2 1LH

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