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Our People

Diane Betts, Chief Executive

A warm welcome to First Rung

We believe that good education and training can and do make a difference and that we owe it to our learners to do our very best by them. To this end we take very seriously to develop and provide high quality training, support and opportunities to young people to fulfil their potential within both the formal and informal curriculum that will prepare our learners for life in the widest sense.


Our expectations:

•  Firstly, highly qualified, caring and committed staff who enjoy their work and are good at it;

•  High expectations across the board;

•  Clear boundaries set so that learners know exactly where the lines are drawn;

•  A disciplined environment so that learners can get on and learn and a

•  commitment that we will do all we can to ensure that our learners are safe.


We are a training provider where every young person matters regardless of their ability and we value their learner’s voice to become a learner responsive organisation.

We believe at First Rung that learners are happiest, work hard and achieve most if relationships are right and they have trainers they like and respect, who encourage and challenge them to do their best.

Our reputation is based on our ability to produce self-confident, successful and ambitious young people ready for the next step into further training or the world of work which permeates through our motto of building future skills through innovation.


First Rung is a company limited by guarantee (Registered Number: 02171777 and a Registered Charity Number 800614).

Our Boards members are:

Michael Johns, Chair of the Board of Trustees of First Rung since December 2008.   His main career was as a civil servant in the Inland Revenue, where his final position was from 1997-2004 as a member of the Board of Inland Revenue and Chief Executive of the Valuation Office Agency (the Inland Revenue Agency responsible for valuing land and property for business rates and council tax). He joined First Rung as a trustee in 2004 after retiring from the Civil Service and served as a member of the Quality and Personnel Committee and Chair of the Strategy Working Group.  He is Chair of the Friends of Abbeyfield and a member of the Committee of the Friends of Queen’s Wood in Muswell Hill.

Contact Address: Michael Johns, Chair of Trustees, First Rung, 197-205 High Road, Ponders End, London, EN3 4DZ


Michael Freyd, Treasurer First Rung and Chair of Finance & Premises Working Party - Following early retirement from the City, Michael Freyd acts as a Governor of Nottingham Trent University, as a Trustee of Age Concern Enfield and as an Independent Member of Barnet Community Services. 


Frank Longsworth, Chair of Quality & Personnel Working Party - Frank has worked in customs for 37 years through its various stages of evolution from HM Customs and Excise to HM Revenue and Customs and now United Kingdom Border Agency; the majority of his time has been spent managing teams investigating customs, excise and VAT offences. He is currently working part time on various projects for UKBA. Prior to becoming a trustee at First Rung he was a mentor for the Prince's Trust, he regularly undertakes mock interviews for students in year 11 at a school in Leytonstone.


Suzanne Ralton, Board Member - after graduating with a BSc(Econ) from the LSE, Suzanne Ralton began her career working in a large London advertising agency before joining a City stock broker where she worked as a researcher.  She then spent some years in her family’s textile business and in 1997 set up her own business specialising in providing technical fabrics to commercial customers, both in the UK and overseas.  Almost from the beginning, the company has regularly worked with First Rung, employing learners and helping them achieve qualifications.


John Brown, Board Member John spent 20 years in the venture capital and private equity industry, latterly as the Deputy Managing Director of Cinven. He left Cinven in 2001 to spend time working in the voluntary sector and since then has been trustee of a range of organisations including UnLtd, Box Clever Theatre Company,  London Detainee Support Group, The Reading Agency and Islington Boat Club.

Michael Kutner, Board Member Michael retired as a solicitor in 2013 after spending 40 years in practice  specialising in commercial property development.Since retirement, in addition to joining  the board of First Rung, Michael has become a governor in a new special needs primary school which he has helped to set up, he is a mentor at an academy school and assists another charity by sitting on its welfare committee which provides grants to impoverished university students.


David Taylor, Board Member Dave studied Chemistry at university but then went on to have a professional career as a Chartered Management Accountant; largely in industry with over 20 years working for the British paints and chemical company, ICI, in the UK and in Holland. For the last 10 years, Dave has worked in the not-for-profit sector in Finance, Board Trustee and management consultant roles. He is currently a director of Aureus Social Ventures Ltd and a Trustee Director of an ICI company pension fund.

Hilary Robinson, Board Member


For more information please contact: