Former Director-General of Help the Aged to lead the English-Speaking Union

6 Jul 2009

Mike Lake CBE, the former Director-General of Help the Aged, has been appointed to succeed Valerie Mitchell OBE as Director-General of the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth (ESU) and Secretary-General of the ESU International Council. Mike will take up his new post on 20th July 2009.

Michael Lake was educated at Humphrey Davy School, Penzance and at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. He was commissioned in the British Army and served in Germany, Northern Ireland, the Middle East and the Far East in a variety of roles. On leaving the British Army in 1996, he was appointed Director General of Help the Aged, one of the leading charities in the United Kingdom, with roots in international disaster relief and with both national and global roles in the fields of research, policy development and campaigning, and community work. In 2008, the charity raised circa. £80 million, primarily from public donation.

In April 2009, having managed a merger with Age Concern, another leading UK charity, Michael was appointed as a Director of the Prince's Charities Office, the managing structure for HRH The Prince of Wales charities group. In addition to those responsibilities, he has served on the boards of HelpAge International, the Network Housing Association, the Pensions Advisory Service and the Disasters Emergency Committee. He is currently on the Boards of the Charity Aid Foundation, Charity Bank and Golden Charter Limited and serves as Chairman of the British Gas Energy Trust of the UK Age Research Forum and of the International Longevity Centre. He was appointed CBE in 1996.

The ESU was founded in 1918 by the journalist Sir Evelyn Wrench, partly as a reaction to the First World War. Its mission is to create global understanding through English. It also aims to build closer ties between the English-Speaking peoples of the United States and the Commonwealth. One of the ESU's first Chairmen was Sir Winston Churchill and over the course of the last 90 years it has continued to grow in scope, impact and influence. Based in Dartmouth House in Mayfair, the ESU today has some 60,000 members worldwide spread across national ESUs in 50 countries. With 35 staff in its London headquarters the organisation has an annual turnover of nearly £3 million and a vibrant an extensive volunteer and alumni base. It is a registered charity, dependent financially on the generosity of its members, individual donors and corporate sponsors.

Wholly independent and entirely non-political, the ESU works through people-to-people exchanges, scholarships, speaking and debating competitions, and programmes dealing with cultural and current affairs.