Board members, patrons and founders


CEO Deborah Bullivant

Dr Deborah Bullivant MBE

Deborah is an educationalist and social entrepreneur who built Grimm & Co on a bedrock of robust research, that set out the design and philosophy blueprint for a successful Yorkshire writing centre based in Rotherham, for children, young people and to support those who influence their development.

Deborah has a background that started in community education, then as headteacher, before going on to national educational leadership and advisory roles.  Specialising in literacy, Deborah champions arts-based learning approaches to narrow the gap for marginalised children, young people and adults.  Deborah’s own career path didn’t start well, as personal circumstances meant leaving school early with no qualifications and challenges that affected her opportunities.  However, although it wasn’t a traditional route, this lived experience has equipped her with insider experience that she draws on for her work.

Deborah achieved a Doctor of Education (University of Sheffield) in 2022, with a thesis examining the origins of an arts-based signature pedagogy, with Grimm & Co at the heart of the research.

In June 2022, Deborah was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Jubilee Honours List, for her dedication to improving children’s life chances by raising literacy levels.

Writer in Residence

Jeremy Dyson

Writer and director for stage, television and film, best known as the non-performing member of comedy group The League of Gentlemen. His film credits include Ghost Stories, co-written and directed with Andy Nyman.

Grimm & Co’s Trustees

Chair:  Sarah Dunwell

An experienced social entrepreneur, Sarah works with businesses and charities that want to combine commercially successful business activities with significant social impact.  Through her consultancy business, Arena Partners, she advises corporates, local authorities, infrastructure organisations and philanthropists on how to maximise their impact.

Vice Chair:  Lisa Pogson

Joint Managing Director at Airmaster, Mechanical Services Experts, based in South Yorkshire. She is also President at Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce.

Jeremy Dyson

Writer and director for stage, television and film.  Jeremy is best known for Writing and directing the stage play and film Ghost Stories and for co-writing the hit TV comedy series and stage production, The League of Gentlemen.

Professor Jane Hodson

Professor in English Language and Literature at the University of Sheffield.  Jane leads on a range of academic developments within the university and has extended her wealth of knowledge and experience on research and development to chair Grimm & Co’s sub-group of the board.

Steve Dearden

Writer, producer and the founding Director of The Writing Squad, the development programme for young writers in the north of England.  Steve has extensive experience in business strategic and operational planning that he shares with Grimm & Co as a trustee.

Oliver Mantell

Director of Policy Research at the Audience Agency.  Oliver brings a wealth of experience in policy, research, marketing, communications and much more to the Grimm & Co board.

Dr Lauren Rea

Senior Lecturer in Latin American Studies at the University of Sheffield. Lauren’s research specialisms include children’s literacy and children’s culture. Alongside her academic role, she works on creative projects with children’s content producers in Argentina.

Charlotte Dimond

Sidekick PR Director.  Chartered PR Practitioner with over 19 years communications experience. Adviser in all aspects of communication to senior executives (private, public and third sector).

Jon Sawyer

Jon is a Chartered Surveyor with 20 years experience of delivery capital projects across the U.K., including a number of unique projects for charities. He is also an Advisor to George Clarke’s Council Housing Campaign.


Joanne Harris (MBE)

Award winning writer.  Joanne Harris (MBE) was born in Barnsley and was a teacher for fifteen years, during which time she published three novels, including Chocolat (1999), which was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp.

Ian McMillan

Writer, Poet, BBC presenter, journalist, broadcaster and solo performer.  Ian hosts the BBC Radio 3 programme, The Verb.  Ian lives in Barnsley and performs around the UK.  He also writes weekly columns for the Yorkshire Post and Barnsley Chronicle.

Paul Clayton

Actor, Director, Presentation Skills, Tutor, Communication Skills Facilitator and Speaker Coach. Paul is well known from many television appearances. A long and variedtheatre career. Over 200 plays as actor or director.

Sir Paul Collier (CBE)

Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government and Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies & author.

Abi Elphinstone

Author of Sky Song and the Dreamsnatcher trilogy, Abi spent time as a teacher before leaving to pursue writing full time. She still works closely with schools, is passionate about children’s literacy and we were thrilled when she joined Grimm & Co as a patron in June 2018. When not writing, she travels the world looking for her next story, hides in treehouses, meets eagle huntresses and builds dens.

Mark Gatiss

Screenwriter, novelist, actor and comedian.  Mark is one quarter of the League of Gentlemen comedy team, and was keen to be involved with Grimm & Co after a visit with writer-in-residence, Jeremy Dyson.

Chris Mould

Author/illustrator/scribblemaniac Chris has beautifully illustrated many books, including The Truth Pixie (written by Matt Haig) and The Iron Man (by Ted Hughes).  Working from his studio hidden in the depths of Dean Clough Mills, Chris creates works of wonder that bring stories to life in the most magical ways.

Contributor: Sir Bob Geldof, singer, songwriter, actor and philanthropist.

Original Design and Creation – Principal Consultants/Advisors

Side by Side

Side by Side were the original designers behind Grimm & Co. From the branding and packaging, to the interior design and experience, Dave Greasley and Oliver Booth were integral to the creation of the amazing magical spaces within the Grimm & Co realm.

Ministry of Stories’ Family

Grimm & Co are part of the Ministry of Stories family and as such have received support from founding directors, Ben Payne and Lucy Macnab who created the first model of this kind in England, found behind the secret door in Hoxton Street Monster Supplies.

Their supporters (including Alistair Hall of We Made This) and trustees (Sue Horner) have provided excellent advice to us in our early developments and made us feel part of this fantastic family. Little Green Pig (Brighton) are another sibling and we enjoy sharing/networking and partnering.

Our supporters and partners

  • Dave Eggers – author and founder of 826 Valencia.
  • 826 National
  • The Ministry of Stories, East London
  • Steve & Mandy Eyre of Stirling Solutions/World of Super Heroes/Sterling Commodities
  • Interserve Learning and Employment – Gifted labour and funds to help create the centre
  • Yorkshire Tile Company – Gifted significant volume & quality resources & tiles to create various space around the centre
  • Jack Green (Metal and Dust) – creation of art work for Grimm & Co’s Apothecary
  • Chris Bilton – Local artist and illustrator has dedicated time and talent to support the creation of the new centre
  • Open Path – Created and populated our original website and social media development
  • Lewis James (Illustrator) – Gifted around 30 days of time to develop the centre and to illustrate the storybooks for children
  • James Brown (photographer) – donates time and expertise to produce beautiful images for website and publications
  • Airmaster UK – removal of old air conditioning units and ongoing donation support
  • Emily Redfearn — Handwritten typography signage, and design support
  • Willmott Dixon – significant building work and creation/fit of the secret door
  • Merlin Software – gifted till system, software and support to the charity to help set up the retail arm
  • Lord Whitney – Imagination design for Grimm’s office and support with retail dressing
  • AES Seal – Initial donation
  • The Workshop – donations of a variety of resources and human support
  • Ashton Associates – support and book donations
  • Human Recruitment – HR set up support
  • Taylor Tuxford Associates (Rhys Taylor)
  • Helena Dolby – photographer, supporting Grimm & Co
  • Abi Vanhoorebeek – Architecture support for the scope of the building
  • Beatson Clark – Gift of glassware/props
  • Roanna Wells – Wandmaker
  • Dave Doyle, Christine Turner, Sheffield Hallam University volunteers, the University of Sheffield volunteers
  • Karndean & Carpet Design Flooring
  • Creative Juice – Helping with initial ideas
  • Annie Bowman
  • Various individual and corporate sponsors across projects for Grimm & Co – see individual projects for details…

& the many volunteers who gift time and talent to support us in our shop, delivery and across our work.