Derek brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role, having held executive and non-executive positions across the health, education, social services, employment, training and criminal justice sectors. 

He has operated at chief executive and chairman levels in the private, public and charity sectors – often on the interface between the three - having played a leading role in the development of two charities, chaired four businesses, led a government agency, and worked closely with different departments in successive governments*.

Derek takes over from Graham Williams, who was elected to hold the post on an interim basis last August until a permanent Chair was appointed. Graham will remain a Trustee for Mencap and chair of the Audit Committee.

Derek Lewis says:

I am delighted to have been appointed as the new Chair of Trustees at Mencap. I am very much looking forward to working with the Board to ensure that the charity continues to provide exceptional support for people with a learning disability and their families, in the difficult environment of cuts in public spending and reduced charity giving.

I am hugely impressed by the hard work, determination and unwavering passion of the people I have met who work with Mencap. I hope I can help make their commitment even more effective in giving people with a learning disability the same chances in life as everyone else.

The appointment has been agreed by the Board of Trustees and will be officially confirmed by a vote at the next Mencap Annual General Meeting. 

Jan Tregelles, chief executive of Mencap, says:

We are delighted to have Derek join us as chairman at what is a really exciting time for Mencap. Mencap has been supporting people with a learning disability and their families for the past 65 years and we need to ensure that we continue to meet the changing needs of the people we support long into the future.

Derek will play an important role in ensuring we continue to deliver high quality, specialist services and campaign for change to improve the lives of the 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK and the millions more family members who support them.

I have no doubt that Derek will bring the right values, as well as the right executive experience, to shape, inspire and drive forward Mencap’s work to support all people with a learning disability and their families to live the lives they choose.

Stephen Jack OBE has also been appointed as a new Trustee and as chair of the Finance Committee. Stephen is a chartered accountant who has held senior management positions in a number of international financial services organisations. 

Since 2007, he has been the Chairman of the Independent Living Fund, a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions, which provides support to nearly 18,000 disabled people across the UK. Jack was awarded an OBE in the New Years honours 2014 for services to disabled people.


For more information, please contact the Mencap press office, on 020 7696 6950 or

Derek Lewis’s not-for-profit roles have included chair of Community Alcohol Partnerships and the Drinkaware Trust; and a trustee and chair of the finance committee of WRVS (now the Royal Voluntary Service). 

In the private sector he has been chief executive of Granada Group plc and UK Gold Television Ltd; chair of Sunsail plc, Patientline plc, JHP Training Ltd, and Protocol Associates; and a director of BskyB, Courtaulds Textiles plc and learndirect. 

He was director general of the Prison Service in England and Wales and the principal policy adviser on prisons.

Notes to editors

About Mencap

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities.

Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want. 

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email