The Open Centre is managed by a board of Trustees, many of whom have been with us for many years.

Please read the information below to find out more about our trustees.

Graham Falgate – Joint Chair of Trustees

I started my teaching career in Derby in 1979 and shortly afterwards was invited to be part of a small group to establish a local charity to help bring diverse faiths and cultures together. This was seen as a local strategic response to the Scarman Report of 1981 which was the year the Open Centre formally opened. I have been involved in the life of the Open Centre in various capacities for 40 years, as a trustee since since 2012 and Chair from 2015. I am also a trustee of the Multi Faith Centre and until recently was Chair of the Derby Holocaust Memorial planning group. I am married with four children, a keen walker, gardener and is a lifelong fan of Leicester City FC!

Val Watson –Joint Chair of Trustees

I joined The Open Centre Trustees in February 2021. Until very recently, I worked in the Nottingham and Derbyshire based education and voluntary sectors in numerous capacities for over 30 years. I have a keen interest in community based projects and has a passion for social justice and equality. I am an experienced psychotherapist, consultant and coach in independent practice. Amongst many other things my interests include, walking, reading, music, gardening, sport, travelling, cinema, TV, singing and attempting crafts.

Aneesa Riffat – Vice Chair of Trustees

I heard about the Open Centre from a colleague and was intrigued as to what it did. After investigating a little further, I really appreciated the values of this organisation and what it did within the world of education. My favourite subject at school was Religious Studies and I have never stopped being interested in faiths of all denominations. I am a values led person, and I am pleased that I can work with this organisation that is also values led.  I am delighted to have joined as a trustee in June 2021. I hope to bring over my extensive background of museum curatorship and education to support the OC.

Bilal Hussain – Trustee

I joined the Open Centre in 2016 and I currently hold the position of co-chair of the board of trustees. My background is in education and I have always had a keen interest in religious education. Therefore when I became aware of the Open Centre and the incredible work the organisation carried out in enhancing people’s knowledge and understanding of religions, cultures and communities; I knew that I had to become involved. I have been a proud member ever since!

Kate McCrae – Trustee

I first encountered the OC soon after its inception as a client, a teacher in a Derby school, and continued over many years to bring scores of children to various activities run by the OC. In that time developments and refinements have ensured that the OC continues to meet the needs of teachers, schools, children, our communities and society in innovative and imaginative ways. I believe that work the OC does result in real change and understanding and I have always advocated its value. Being a Trustee is important to me.

Raj Bali – Trustee

I joined the OPENCENTRE in 1981 as one of its first trustees. My first thoughts were to encourage Racial Harmony and initiate diversity in the communities. I’m pleased to say that the OPENCENTRE has continued to be the positive initiator in breaking barriers and give a better first hand understanding of faith and culture.

David Walton – Trustee

I love human diversity & travelled overland to India in 1972, teaching for 2 years in Varanasi. I have since worked in inner city, multiracial schools in London & Derby, while doing bits of freelance travel journalism. I retired in 2004 & have been an OC Trustee since then.

Judith Law – Trustee

In 1982 I was employed to set up a project that would encourage understanding between the different ethnic groups in Derby, mainly by working with schools. I already had experience in inter-faith dialogue and in running a small business. I ran the Open Centre for 5 years and have remained as a Trustee ever since. Later I completed an MA at Leeds University in Ethnic Minority Religions, and my thesis was on The Religious Beliefs and Practices of Hindus in Derby.

Russell Pollard – Trustee

I joined the Board of Trustees in September 2020. The experience that I have brought to the Trustees is from nearly 40 years of experience in Business, Management and Finance, and more latterly in communications and the use of social media.

Marcus Harrison – Trustee

My experience over the past 12 years has been involved in the IT and Telecoms sector and I have a wealth of experience in grant funding and organisational process mapping. I come from a low-income background and my family is multiracial. Therefore, joining an organisation that promotes cultural awareness, is diverse and champions social equality is deeply and personally very important to me. 

I only became aware of the Open Centre recently, but I’m incredibly impressed by the tremendous work that goes on behind the scenes. The strides they have made to survive during the pandemic have been nothing short of immense. I am delighted to have become involved as a proud member of the team and plan to add value to our shared future vision. 

If you would like to become a trustee of the Open Centre, please contact Sam, the Manager for more information on

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