Voluntary Sector Support

Voluntary Sector Support

In addition to the main role in supporting the judiciary, forces of law, witness protection and the emergency services, and promoting the relevance of the Shrievalty, John Hudson OBE DL also focuses on:

• Multi-culturalism and diversity in the West Midlands County, from a variety of stances: the rich and positive contribution that immigration has brought to the County, but also the challenges presented by communities living in silos and the prejudice, ignorance and mistrust that can create;

• The Interfaith movement which promotes understanding between diverse communities;

• Young people: promoting cohesion amongst the current generation;

County History


Although the County of the West Midlands has only existed since 1974, the settlements of the West Midlands have long been important centres of commerce and industry as well as developing a good local infrastructure. Coventry was one of England’s most important cities during the Middle Ages, with its prosperity built upon wool and cloth manufacture. Birmingham and Wolverhampton have a tradition of industry dating back to the 16th century, when small metal-working industries developed. Birmingham was also known for its manufacture of small arms, whereas Wolverhampton became a centre of lock manufacture and brass working. The coal and iron ore deposits of the Black Country area provided a ready source of raw materials. The area grew rapidly during the Industrial Revolution, and by the 20th century had grown into one large conurbation. Coventry was slower to develop, but by the early 20th century, it had become an important centre of bicycle and car manufacture.

The West Midlands differs from most other counties in many ways.  It is a largely urban county with three cities (Coventry, Birmingham and Wolverhampton) and four metropolitan boroughs (Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull and Walsall.  It is a young county, dating from 1974, and also a richly  diverse county.


John was brought up in Small Heath, Birmingham and after leaving Bordesley Green County Technical School, served an engineering apprenticeship with BSA Motorcycles Ltd in Small Heath. He graduated in engineering from what is now Birmingham City University, obtained an MSc at Aston University and is a chartered engineer. His career has subsequently been spent managing or chairing mainly engineering companies in the listed and private sectors in Britain and internationally. He has also been a non-executive director of a number of listed and private companies, including having been chairman of Birmingham Airport for 20 years.

A former president of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce he served for a number of years as chairman of the West Midlands Industrial Development Board, a council member of the West Midlands CBI and was a founder member of the CBI National Manufacturing Council.

John is involved in a number of charities including being a patron of the Midlands Air Ambulance. One cannot choose which football team to support and having been brought up very close to St Andrew’s, has supported Birmingham City through thin and thin over many years.

He was awarded an OBE for services to industry in 2003 and serves as a Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands. He holds an honorary doctorate from Birmingham City University.

John has been married to Connie for 43 years and they have two adult children Mark and Sam and two grandchildren Hugo and Kai.

He is passionate about the West Midlands and looking forward enormously to his year in office.


Keith was born in Aston, Birmingham, in a back terrace house which was subsequently demolished. He then moved with his parents to a Local Authority maisonette in Newtown.

He attended Upper Thomas Street Infants, Junior and Secondary schools and was selected to attend Handsworth Technical School at the age of 13, but after two years was not invited to join the sixth form. He went to work for a firm of Chartered Accountants in the centre of Birmingham, where he secured the necessary qualifications to obtain entry into the professional examinations. Five years later he qualified as a Chartered Accountant.

This year, he celebrates 50 years of marriage to Pamelawho is from Wolverhampton. They have three sons and six grandchildren, (three girls and three boys).

After a short spell working in Birmingham, Keith was offered a position in Liberia and in 1969 joined the Mesurado Group of companies in Monrovia as Financial Controller. Eighteen months later Keith was appointed President of the Group, which had interests in fishing, rubber plantations, timber, manufacturing and import/export and was the largest employer in the country.

During the seven years spent in Africa he travelled extensively and in 1976 returned to live in the Midlands not far from his beloved Birmingham, where he began a number of business ventures. He was responsible for setting up a number of companies, notably Takare Plc, which revolutionised long-term care and which floated in 1990. When Takare was subsequently taken over by BUPA the company had 14,000 employees on the payroll.

Keith has interests in motor dealerships as Chairman of Listers Group, electronic manufacturing through Laney Headstock Distribution, and a family property business which includes Nurton Developments and G B Developments. He is no longer actively involved in his various business interests, serving them all as non-Executive Chairman.

He has taken on a number of charitable roles including: Chairmanship of the Trustees of the recently-opened Library of Birmingham, Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands, and is currently High Sheriff of the West Midlands.

He continues to enjoy travel for business and pleasure and aims to visit every major Opera House in the world. He is a life-long supporter of Warwickshire County Cricket Club and West Bromwich Albion Football Club.

He is passionate about the City of Birmingham and is involving himself in a number of initiatives which acknowledge his great debt to the city.