Board of Trustees


Dorset Museum is owned by the members of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society.

The members elect a Board of ten Trustees who are responsible for the overall strategy of the Society and the management of its Museum.

Jean Lang DL - Chair

Jean is a lawyer and was for many years a solicitor with a Dorset firm. Until 2023 she was a Tribunal Judge. Moving to Dorchester in 1981 she has been involved with many local organisations as Chair of the CAB, of St Osmund’s Middle School Governors and then of Thomas Hardye Governors. She has served on the Police Authority and as a Non-Executive Director of Poole Hospital and was Deputy Chair of Bournemouth University. She is currently a Director/Trustee of Dorset Opera.

Tracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier FRSL is an author of historical fiction. She is best known for the international bestseller Girl with a Pearl Earring, and has written novels set in Europe, the United States, and Dorset – including Remarkable Creatures, about the fossil hunter Mary Anning. She has been a Trustee of the Society of Authors, the Royal Literary Fund, and the British Library. She is an Ambassador for the Woodland Trust, a Patron of the Dorchester Literary Festival and the Lyme Regis Museum, and supports several charities. Tracy and her husband have had a long association with Dorset, and divide their time between London and a cottage in the Piddle Valley.

Claire Dixon

Prior to her time at Dorset Museum & Art Gallery, Claire was Director of Museums and Deputy CEO at Bath Preservation Trust for six years, where she provided strategic leadership for museums and Historic Houses.  She has also worked for the National Trust, Hampshire Cultural Trust and The Tank Museum.

David French

David is a Trustee of Weldmar Hospicecare, Chair of Governors at a local First School, a pension scheme Trustee and a mentor to three local businesses as part of Dorset Business Mentors.

David was a Director of Hall & Woodhouse until his retirement in 2018 where he was responsible for all aspects of the beer business including building the brewery in Blandford. David’s career background is in Marketing. He has lived in Dorset for over 23 years.

Sian Merriott

Siân moved to Dorchester in 2001 and has been involved in a number of local institutions including Vice President of Dorset Law Society, Trustee of a local Nursery School and Governor of a Dorchester First School as well as serving as a Director of the Dorchester BID and being a member of the Dorchester Chamber of Commerce.  Siân is a qualified solicitor who worked for more than 25 years in residential conveyancing and family law. Siân is currently CEO of Relate Dorset & South Wiltshire.

Tracey Parsons

Tracey is an experienced litigation solicitor and mediator. She is a History graduate of the LSE and converted to Law. She started her career in London and has been involved in voluntary work for many years. This has included working on Management Committees for community groups in East London and in Dorset.

She has been on the governing board for a north Dorset secondary school for 14 years. Her role has included working on the Finance Committee, the Strategy Committee and chairing governor panel hearings. She is also a trustee of the Dorchester Child Contact Centre.

Tracey has lived in Dorset for 21 years and raised her 3 children here. She continues to practice law at a local firm and has strong community ties.

Peter Sharman

As a qualified chartered accountant, Peter has gained considerable experience and expertise in the financial, commercial, and governance aspects of large corporate companies and their smaller fledgling businesses. A significant proportion of Peter’s career has been in the energy industry with a particular interest in the renewable energy sector.

Having grown up in Dorset, Peter’s career has taken him to New Zealand and Germany for extensive periods of time, as well as working in other parts of the UK. A recent return to Dorset now sees his family becoming established in the Piddle valley, located near other family members.

Jim Smyllie

After an early career in the arts, Jim spent twenty-five years in senior planning, strategy and management roles in the public sector and government, including ten years in the NHS.  The last years of his executive career were at Board level in Natural England, the national government advisory and delivery body for nature. More recently Jim was a Lay Member in the NHS, chaired one of the National Trust’s Regional Advisory Boards, and was a Trustee of the Landscape Institute.  He is presently a Trustee of Artsreach, which brings professional live arts performances to village halls and community settings across Dorset.  Jim lives in Netherbury in west Dorset.

Laura Southall

Laura is currently Head of Learning at the Science Museum – the UK’s most visited attraction for school groups. Since 2009, she has worked in public programming at a variety of large and small museums, including the V&A, Imperial War Museums, London Transport Museum and Pallant House Gallery. She has been a trustee of Heritage Crafts since 2017 and when possible is a mentor for young people wanting to access careers in the arts, through charities such as Arts Emergency and The Social Mobility Foundation.

David Tucker

David has worked in the West County heritage sector for 30 years. As Dorset County Museum Officer he acquired the Weymouth Bay Pliosaur for Dorset Museum. Between 2012 and 2021 he was Director of Lyme Regis Museum, where he led the initiative to build the Mary Anning Wing.

Currently, David is part time CEO of Lyme Regis Development Trust, combatting social isolation, food insecurity and providing opportunities for young people. He also works as a heritage consultant with a specific interest in supporting Lottery applications and fundraising. David lives ‘just over the border’ in South Somerset.

Morag Wood

Morag Wood is a culture and communications specialist, with wide-ranging experience in the arts, science, business and charity sectors. She has worked for organisations such as the Natural History Museum, the London Development Agency and the Millennium Commission. She has been a consultant for nearly two decades where she has worked with a range of organisations leading on projects for The National Lottery, the Olympic Lottery Distributor, the recently opened Museum of Making in Derby and the Fashion and Textile Museum in London, to name but a few. In addition, she is the founder-director of the Culture Communications Collective an organisation that combines experience and expertise to deliver projects and campaigns for the culture and heritage sectors. She is also Chair of the Cultural Compact for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

Shane Bartlett

I am married to Tracey and have two daughters both of whom have attended local schools, both of which I attended myself as a child. I have always been fortunate to work locally and have been employed in the dental industry since leaving full-time education. I was born in and have lived in Wimborne Minster all of my life. It is a town that I love and have a deep affection for and consider myself fortunate to be living in such a beautiful town with a varied and wonderfully outstanding surrounding countryside.

I have been involved with fundraising for several charities over the years, most recently due to personal circumstances, these have been for cancer (breast cancer in particular) and combat stress.

I have many hobbies and interests. Unfortunately, there is never enough time to enjoy all of them, but they include model making, reading (especially history which is a passion of mine) and nature watching with my girls in the already aforementioned beautiful landscape in which we are lucky enough to reside.