Skip to main content

The Trust was Founded in 1979 with Merseyside County Council and became an independent Trust in 1986.

The Trust, a registered charity, is the owner of the Liverpool Empire building and under a sub lease arrangement the Ambassador Theatre Group, with which the Trust liaises closely, is responsible for a range of duties including the maintenance of the building and the running of the theatre’s programmes, fulfilling certain criteria in terms of the performance offerings.

The Trust supports a vibrant department of Creative Learning with a thriving Youth Theatre programme, which facilitates the involvement of young people, community groups and school parties in acting and theatre activities.

For 1986 to 2015, the late Sir Philip Carter CBE was Trust Chairman and during his time the theatre was modernised, refurbished and an annexe built on the Legs of Man Public House site.

More recently the Trust, now chaired by Mr David Morgan following the death of his predecessor in the role Mr Terry Smith, has run programmes and events supporting the development of the arts across the Liverpool City Region, including the ‘Active Arts’ competition in 2017/18 and the ‘My Liverpool’ project in 2019.


Meet the Trustees

David Morgan, Chairman

David is a retired solicitor having spent over forty years practicing In Liverpool, with a short spell in Manchester. During this time he acted for local and national companies in the retail and drinks sectors, many with large property portfolios. He held several board and management positions and was for a number of years a non-executive director of a European retail and online sports betting company.

He retired in 2018 from Brabners LLP, where he was National Head of Real Estate. Whilst a partner at Weightmans, he first joined the Trust as Secretary in 1995 and was appointed a trustee in 1997. During the refurbishment and extension of the theatre he was responsible for managing the audit of the financial data required by the Arts Council and the European Community grant funding.

His early school days were spent in the Lake District before moving to Ellesmere College in Shropshire and university in Newcastle, graduating in law. He is married with three grown up children and two grandchildren. He has lived in Wirral since 1974. His interests include walking in the Lakes, playing the occasional game of golf, gardening, and classical music. He takes a keen interest in Merseyside football.

David took over as Chairman from the late Terry Smith, who passed away on August 15, 2021, aged 87.

Tony Ensor

Tony Ensor has been associated with the Trust since its inception in 1979.

He was appointed Solicitor and Secretary when Merseyside County Council bought the premises from Moss Empires, who ran the the Theatre originally as a Music Hall and later with Variety Acts and Pop Groups.

He was later made a Trustee when the County Council was abolished.

He was involved in obtaining initially a grant of £700,000 from the Arts Council to enable the theatre to be refurbished and extended to cater for large musical productions. Later, a sum of around £10,000,000 was raised from the Lottery Fund and the European Community, leading to the extension of the front of house facilities and acquisition of  adjoining property.

Tony practiced as a solicitor in the city, being the Senior Partner at Weightmans. He also held a number of judicial posts and was for a time a Director of Liverpool Football Club. He was subsequently appointed a Circuit Judge.

He believes that the theatre should provide a wide range of entertainment catering for all tastes.

In particular there should be space afforded for ballet, opera and National Theatre productions which would not otherwise be seen in Liverpool.

Pamela McGaffney

Pam has spent all of her professional working life in the Insurance Broking industry, with the first thirty years being spent within the family insurance business.

As the business prospered, it grew to be one of the largest independent brokers in the North West, specialising in affinity group insurance and employing nearly ninety people.  In the latter part of that time Pam was a director of the company, with responsibility for ensuring the highest possible levels of customer satisfaction.

The success of the business in its field of operation drew the attention of a much larger mutual insurance provider who expressed a wish to acquire the business.  As part of that acquisition, she was asked to stay in post which she has done for the past fifteen years. During this time she has gradually reduced the amount of time she now works.

Pam, who lives in Wirral,  focuses solely on ensuring high level customer care to one client and their 90,000 strong membership.

This means that nowadays she is able to spend more time with family – especially her grandchildren – and enjoy her hobbies of ‘fair weather’ golf and walking – as well as frequent visits to the theatre.

Lesley Marshall

Lesley was born and raised on the outskirts of Liverpool and spent most of her working life at Radio City.

Originally based in their Stanley Street studios, she joined the station from school as a junior member of the accounts team and later ran the Programming office before becoming PA to the Station Manager and Board of Directors. She also served on the Board of Trustees for the parent company pension scheme.

She still works for Radio City part time and, since 2000 when the radio station moved to St. Johns Beacon 450 feet up, her office has been bird’s eye view of The Empire Theatre.

When not in Liverpool, Lesley runs a successful home staging and styling business, helping homeowners to sell their properties quickly, for the best price – a job which takes her across the North West and the Channel Islands.

She is a regular visitor to the theatre and, as a keen lapsed musician, particularly enjoys the musical productions the theatre offers.

Currently living in Rufford, West Lancashire, she was honoured to be invited to join the Empire Trust’s board in 2016.

In her spare time, she is a keen tennis player, dog walker and reader.

Sean Marley

Sean has worked across radio, television, theatre and film.

At Metro Radio in Newcastle, he became the youngest UK major market Programme Director and ran the network of Magic AM stations.

He became MD of Radio City in Liverpool in 2000. During his time there, the station won Sony UK Station of the Year and Commercial Radio Station of the Year.

In 2003, Sean, from Wirral, joined Phil and Alexis Redmond at Mersey Television as Commercial Director. After becoming part of the All3 Media group and changing its name to Lime Pictures, Sean was appointed Managing Director.

As well as Channel 4’s Hollyoaks, Lime diversified its programming including shows such as Apparitions (BBC), Bafta winning The Only Way Is Essex (ITV2) and Geordie Shore (MTV).

After leaving Lime, Sean set up a regional theatre production company, Alterean Media. Specialising in musicals telling the stories of football clubs, they produced “YNWA – The History of LFC” and “Celtic The Musical”.

In 2015, Sean joined Wirral based film and TV production company, Mad As Birds. They have made four feature films to date.

Sean was Chair of Creative Skillset’s Northern Media Skills Panel and is a trustee of Cash For Kids children’s charity.

John Thompson

John Thompson is a semi retired lifelong Liverpool based journalist.

Liverpool born and bred, he began his journalistic career in 1977 on the former Crosby Herald and Bootle Times newspapers, before joining the Liverpool Daily Post in 1981 as a news reporter, going on to cover, or help shape the coverage of, all of the major news stories that followed in the city region.

He is a former Senior Assistant Editor of the Liverpool ECHO, having managed both the ECHO’s news and sport desks for more than 20 years during the 1990s and beyond until he left the business in April 2018.

For a spell in between at the turn of the Millennium, John worked as an Editorial Change Development Manager on a major national review programme for Trinity Mirror, now renamed Reach plc and the country’s largest regional newspaper and digital media publisher.

Married with two children, John, who was born in Anfield and later grew up in the West Derby area of the city, now lives in Wirral and provides occasional articles for the Business Post magazine, which covers the scene across the Liverpool City Region.

He is an avid football supporter and also enlists golf, music, travelling and gardening among his hobbies.

Carol Mason

Carol Mason is the Secretary to the Trust and its six trustees.

Caro, originally from Newcastle, studied Law at Liverpool University and attended the College of Law in Chester. She then remained in Liverpool working with a local law firm, where she qualified as a solicitor.

She has spent most of her professional life in Liverpool and is now a Partner in Morecrofts LLP, where she is head of the Private client team, working from the Woolton office. She provides advice on wills, inheritance tax and probate matters.

She has many years’ experience as a professional trustee and in administering trusts, including several charitable trusts. She has extensive  knowledge on trust and charity law.

Carol has served as Chair of a local children’s nursery and Vice-chair of governors at a local primary school.  She is a trustee of  Liverpool Bluecoat School and a member of the professional body of the Society of Trust and Estate practitioners and the Law Society.

Carol is married to a solicitor and has two children, both of whom have attended the Liverpool Youth Empire.

In her spare time, Carol is passionate about musicals, ballet and visits the theatre regularly, also the Liverpool Philharmonic.  She enjoys reading, playing the piano and local history. She is also an active member of Liverpool Soroptimist International, supporting women and children’s causes.

Terry Smith

The Empire Theatre Trust was deeply saddened to learn of the death of its chairman, Terry Smith on Sunday, August 15, 2021. Mr Smith, 87, a hugely respected and admired business figure on Merseyside and beyond for more than six decades, passed away in hospital in Wirral after a short illness. He lived with his wife Pam in Hoylake.

Terry became a director of the Empire Theatre Trust, which owns the famous theatre building in Lime Street, Liverpool, shortly after it was formed by the former Merseyside County Council in 1979. He succeeded the late Sir Philip Carter as Chairman of the Trust, a registered charity, in 2015.

Terry, who founded and ran Radio City and was also a former director of Liverpool Football Club, was a pivotal figure in the project to expand the Empire in 1998. That saw the auditorium and stage modernised and expanded with new systems for sound, lighting and other improvements which allowed major productions to be performed in Liverpool, including top London shows.

He worked tirelessly to support the theatre and the arts, in particular championing the establishment of a nationally renowned creative arts programme which the theatre helps fund and run across the Liverpool City Region. He helped host the Queen and Prince Philip when they attended to reopen the theatre after its major refurbishments in 1999.

Here, his successor as Chair of the Trust, David Morgan, pays tribute to Terry....

“Dedicated, passionate, tireless, inspiring and caring. In the many tributes to Terry, these words have been used and they equally apply to his work with the Empire Theatre Trust. The Trust was formed by Merseyside County Council in 1979, at the time when the Empire Theatre was facing closure, the aim being to ensure the theatre remained at the centre of performing arts in Liverpool and the surrounding region.

“Shortly afterwards, Terry was co-opted onto the original trust board, bringing a wealth of experience and expertise to the Trust, in particular that of the entertainment industry both locally and nationally, which proved to be of great assistance over the years. When the Council was abolished, Terry was at the forefront of negotiations for its survival, which resulted in Apollo Leisure (now known as Ambassador Theatre Group) becoming the managers of the theatre under a commercial arrangement, which secured the long-term future of the theatre.

“Terry had a passion for the arts and an everlasting desire to see the theatre reach out through the Creative Learning Department to the less fortunate of our society, particularly school children in the poorer areas of the city. He realised the Trust had a significant role to play in both assisting the Department’s activities and small external arts organisations, by providing Trust funding for many projects over the years, thus giving opportunities that would not otherwise have been experienced. And, in the months before his passing he was developing yet another project to be launched in 2022.

“On becoming Chair of the Trust in 2015, succeeding the late Sir Philip Carter, Terry introduced new trustees and galvanised the charitable activities of the Trust by a series of events, where his passion for the theatre, leadership, drive and determination ensured their success. These events were aimed at the people and arts organisations of Merseyside and one in particular was undoubtedly inspired by his great love of the city, an arts competition called ‘My Liverpool’ to show the city through the eyes of the artist.

“Terry used his wealth of connections to good use for the benefit of the theatre, helping in 2007 to bring the Royal Variety performance to the theatre and persuading those in the industry to contribute to ‘Prompt’ - a guide for the development of the arts and raising funds from regular gala evenings; the two most memorable being in 1999 in the presence of her Majesty the Queen and the late Duke of Edinburgh on the occasion of the reopening of the theatre following an £11m extension and more recently to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the theatre in the company of the Earl of Wessex.

"Legacy is an often overused word but it is entirely appropriate in Terry’s case. He leaves a real and lasting legacy. And, on a personal level, I, in common with the other trustees, will remember Terry with great and lasting affection. His leadership, drive, ideas and personality will be much missed by the Trustees and all associated with the Empire Theatre.


Awards totalling £12,000 have been handed out to the Liverpool Empire’s aspiring stars of stage and screen.

The second round of funding in honour of the Empire Theatre Trust’s late chairman Terry Smith represents a twenty per cent increase on last year’s inaugural handout figure.

It brings the total bestowed by the Trust to £22,000 in two years and signifies significant continuing support for young arts students trying to make their way in the theatre, film and television sector.

It will assist them with increasing costs as they pursue educational studies at colleges and universities around the country.

Five former Empire Youth Theatre graduates benefited from the Terry Smith Awards last autumn – this year seven talented young performers will benefit from the bursaries of up to £2,000.

The 2023 awards honour a highly respected Yorkshire-born businessman who spent more than forty years as a Trustee and latterly Chairman, who founded Liverpool’s commercial station Radio City and who also became a Director of Liverpool Football Club, succeeding the legendary Bob Paisley on the Anfield board.

Terry, who lived with his wife Pam in Hoylake, Wirral, died in August 2021 aged 87.

The Empire Theatre Trust owns the city’s historic flagship theatre building in Lime Street, which is operated by the Ambassador Theatre Group.

The Trust has for many years funded an expansive Creative Learning Programme which engages with thousands of people via schools programmes and other arts education projects across Merseyside and beyond.

Trust Chairman David Morgan said: “The Trustees believe supporting our young adults who have studied and performed with the Empire Youth Theatre and taken part in the Creative Learning programmes which the Trust supports, is a fitting way to honour Terry’s memory.

“He was so passionate about Liverpool, the Empire and the arts in general. And he worked tirelessly hard behind the scenes.

“We had applications this year from so many talented young people that we have decided to increase the support we are giving this year.

“Not only do these young people deserve our help given the talent, drive and passion they showed in their applications, we are acutely aware of the current challenges they face given the increased cost of living.”

Natalie Flynn, Senior Creative Learning Manager at the Empire and who runs the Youth Theatre, welcomed the second round of funding.

She said: “These generous awards in memory of Terry Smith recognise the exceptional talent within the Liverpool Empire’s Youth Theatre.

“It strengthens our commitment to supporting our members beyond their time here as well as providing additional financial support towards the winners’ future studies amid the rising cost of living.

“Every single applicant demonstrated incredible passion and a strong commitment to maintain a connection with the Youth Theatre and its future members. I am incredibly proud of each and every one of them.”

Terry’s widow Pam Smith said: “I was delighted when the Trust proposed these awards.

“Terry loved the city of Liverpool and cherished the Empire Theatre. I know he would have felt honoured to have his name associated with the awards.

“It is so important to support these young people, especially in such tough financial times for them right now.”