Local Charity Honours outgoing Chair

This summer Queen Alexandra College (QAC) thanks its retiring Chair Professor John Hilbourne after three  and a half  years leading the Board and  many more as a governor at the College.


John Hilbourne delivering final speech as Chair of Governors at the end of year celebrations.

John Hilbourne delivering final speech as Chair of Governors at the end of year celebrations.

John Hilbourne is partially sighted and latterly dyslexic. He also has a slight hearing impairment. Educated at Worcester College for the Blind and the London School of Economics where he studied sociology, John also taught in a number of universities holding a number of senior academic posts.

Between 1985 and 1993 he was HMI for further and higher education. Latterly he was an Assistant Director for the Higher Education Quality Council from which he retired in 1996. Between 1996 and 2008 he worked as a Review Chair for the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education and has an honorary Associate Professorship at Brunel University and a Visiting Professorship at Leeds Metropolitan University. He has been Chairman of a Community Health Council and a Health Authority member. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, and has an honorary DSc from the University of Brighton. He has been a registered Ofsted team member and a member of the national Low Vision Services working party. He has also served as a JP.

Apart from being a trustee for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association – where he chairs the research committee – John is the author of several reports on quality enhancement issues in higher education, quality assurance in health care and the relationship between further and higher education in England and Scotland.

Principal Hugh Williams said: “All staff and students have got to know John well in his role as Chair and have appreciated his guidance, support and genuine commitment to their wellbeing. We wish him well in all his future activities.”

Queen Alexandra College (QAC) has a history serving blind people in Birmingham stretching back 160 years when the General Institution for the Blind, later Brib, was founded by Mary Badger.

Across the years the work of Brib, QAC and Focus Birmingham have only been possible with the voluntary support from its trustees. One of the early Treasurers in 1870, was Mr Howard Lloyd,  a member of  the family which founded Lloyds Bank. More recently trustees and patrons have included the Queen Mother, parents, local celebrity ‘Blind Dave’ Heeley and members of the Cadbury family.

Professor Hilbourne will be succeeded as Chair by Chris Bradshaw. Chris, a senior manager in a local health trust, is a parent of a former QAC Student, governor and long serving trustee of QAC.  John and Chris share a commitment to QAC’s role in serving people who are blind or have other disabilities and developing its activities locally, nationally and internationally.