Meet the whole Team

Marriage Foundation is made up of a strong and committed team who are unswerving in their passion to champion marriage for the good of society …especially our children.  We are grateful for the support we receive from our esteemed patrons.  Our advisory board of highly motivated and passionate individuals offer us strategic advice drawn from their years of professional experience in the field of marriage and relationships.

Team Members

Sir Paul Coleridge

Chairman of Marriage Foundation

Sir Paul Coleridge was a High Court judge in the Family Court from 2000 to 2014. For the thirty years prior to that, he was a family law specialist barrister (Queens Counsel) with a practice in London and internationally.  In 2012, Sir Paul founded Marriage Foundation as a response to the family destruction he had witnessed in the family courts and in order to provide a prominent voice in support of marriage in the public arena. In order to devote all his efforts to that, he resigned as a judge in 2014 so he could speak out more freely.

Since 2008, Sir Paul has lectured and spoken to universities, political groups and charities on dozens of occasions in the UK, Europe and Australia on the subject of family life, family law and family breakdown. He has also spoken at Marriage Foundation conferences on family breakdown and related issues. He has been involved in numerous interviews and discussions on BBC radio and TV on family, legal and similar issues.

Paul has been married for 44 years and has 3 adult married children and 7 grandchildren.

Harry Benson

Research Director of Marriage Foundation

Harry Benson is one of Britain’s leading champions for marriage. His research findings for Marriage Foundation are routinely cited in the media and by politicians and have made front page news on several occasions. Formerly one of the youngest Royal Navy helicopter pilots to serve in the Falklands war, Harry has spent the last twenty years researching, writing and teaching about marriage and family. As founder of a Bristol charity, he taught hundreds of relationship courses to thousands of couples, including ‘Let’s Stick Together’, a pioneering short programme for new parents evaluated by the Department for Education and delivered mainly through NHS post-natal clinics. He also co-authored influential family policy papers for the Centre for Social Justice.

Harry’s book What Mums Want And Dads Need To Know – co-authored with his wife Kate – reached number 11 on Amazon UK; in it, Harry and Kate share their own back-from-the-brink experience, demonstrating how marriages go wrong and what makes them go right.

Harry’s latest book Commit or Quit – The Two Year Rule and Other Rules for Romance is for couples starting out and covers how to choose well and how to avoid getting stuck!

Harry and Kate live on a rural small holding, have been married 35 years, and have six children.

Harry will be studying for a PhD in social policy at the School for Policy Studies at Bristol University from 2021-2024. The subject? Marriage of course!

Michaela Hyde

Executive Director of Marriage Foundation

Michaela is the Executive Director for Marriage Foundation and Co-ordinator of the UK National Marriage Week. She is also a freelance presenter – over the years, her experience has included children’s TV, health and wellness presenter & coach, and television shopping channels. Since joining the Marriage Foundation team, Michaela has appeared on BBC One’s Sunday Morning Live, Premier Radio and Trans World Radio, and has been interviewed on several local BBC radio stations. She also hosts ‘The M Word’ podcast.

Michaela has been married to Nick since 1999 and they have two teenage children. Michaela believes that healthy marriages are fundamental to a stable society, offering the best life chances for children and that for marriages to work and last, they require regular care and investment by both partners.

Patrons

Baroness Butler-Sloss

Elizabeth Butler-Sloss was called to the Bar in 1955; she was appointed a Registrar in the Registry Family Division in 1970 and subsequently a High Court Judge, Family Division (1979-1988) and then to the Court of Appeal (1988–1999).  From 1999 until her retirement in 2005 Lady Butler-Sloss was President of the Family Division. She was made Baroness Butler-Sloss of Marsh Green in 2006.

In 1987/88 she chaired the Cleveland Child Abuse Inquiry and was chairman of the Security Commission between 1994 and 2005. She has been the Chancellor of the University of the West of England since 1993 and holds a number of Honorary Fellowships including St Hilda’s College, Oxford, King’s College, London, the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Baroness Deech QC

Ruth Deech is Gresham Professor of Law (from 2008) and Chair of the Bar Standards Board (from 2009). She was Principal of St Anne’s College 1991-2004; Chair, Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority 1994-2002; BBC Governor 2002-06; Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education 2004-08; Board Member, Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism, Tel Aviv University; Chair, Academic Panel, Stuart Young Foundation; Trustee, Jewish National Fund; Trustee, Community Security Trust; Trustee, Coexistence Trust; Executive Council Member, International Society of Family Law.

Baroness Shackleton

Fiona Shackleton was appointed to the House of Lords in 2010; she works with a variety of high-profile clients, primarily dealing with family work. She qualified as a solicitor in 1980, joining Brecher & Co in 1981 and was made a partner later that year; joined Farrer & Co in 1984 where she became a partner in 1987; currently a Partner at Payne Hicks Beach which she joined in 2001; personal solicitor to Prince William of Wales and Prince Harry of Wales; Honorary Doctorate Exeter University, 2010.

Lady Toulson CBE DL

Elizabeth Toulson was called to the Bar in 1974. She is a is a Board Member of Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People and a member of the governing body of Charterhouse. She was High Sheriff of Surrey 2009-10 and has been chairman of the Children’s Society and of Time for Families.

Advisory Board

Catherine Barker

Catherine Barker is Project Director for FASTN, The Family Stability Network, a community of not-for-profit organisations who are determined to create a culture change in attitudes to and behaviour in relationships, enabling more children to grow up safe, secure and nurtured by both parents.

Chris Ford

Chris Ford is the former CEO of Explore – an educational charity whose purpose is to enable school and college students and other young people to explore issues concerning long-term relationships and marriage through the unique opportunity of interface dialogue with married couples about their own experience of marriage.  He continues to be a strong champion of marriage for couples and for society as a whole.

Dave Percival

Dave Percival, and his wife Liz, are the founders of 2-in-2-1, an organisation dedicated to promoting access to the very best resources and services in building secure relationships. They are also trustees of Anglican Marriage Encounter, and are involved in a variety of relationships charities. Dave is also a Chartered Director and Chartered Engineer.

Deborah Jeff

Deborah Jeff is head of the Family Department and a partner at the law firm Seddons.

Frank Young

Frank Young works as Head of the Family Policy Unit at the Centre for Social Justice. Before joining the CSJ in 2015 Frank worked for a leading public affairs agency, where he worked with major clients to promote large strategic infrastructure projects. Prior to that he spent seven years working for the Conservative Party managing high profile election campaigns.

Katharine Hill

Katharine Hill is UK Director for the charity Care for the Family. She was previously a family law solicitor. and is an established author who speaks and writes widely on family issues.

Mark Daniel

Mark Daniel, along with his wife Christine, is a co-Director of FamilyLifeUK, the developers of the Toucan App. Prior to this Mark was a Sales Director in a number of IT and high tech companies, after having served as an Army Officer at various locations around the world.

Mark Molden

Mark Molden is Chief Executive of Marriage Care. Founded in 1946, Marriage Care helps couples and individuals to build and sustain strong, fulfilling healthy relationships, as well as providing counselling support in times of relationship difficulty.

Nicky and Sila Lee

Nicky and Sila Lee are the founders of Relationships Central and over the past 25 years have developed and produced resources to help support family life, like the Marriage Course, the Marriage Preparation Course, the Parenting Children course and the Parenting Teenagers course.

Nola Leach

Nola Leach is CEO of CARE, a charity providing resources and helping to bring Christian insight and experience to matters of public policy and practical caring initiatives. For the past 40 years CARE has produced research to support the fact that healthy marriages provide the basis for a stable society.

Philippa Taylor

Philippa Taylor has worked as an independent consultant on family and bioethics issues for the past 20 years, predominantly for the charity CARE. Alongside her consultancy work, she is Head of Public Policy at the Christian Medical Fellowship.

Rehna Azim

Rehna Azim is a barrister practising in family law specialising in child care law acting for a range of local authority and guardian/parent instructed solicitors. Rehna is also a writer and freelance journalist. She is currently making a series of short films about family law.

Sarah Abell

Sarah Abell was the Telegraph’s relationships expert until May 2011. She currently works as a life and relationships coach helping individuals and couples. Her book ‘Inside Out: How to have authentic relationships with everyone in your life’ was published in 2011.

Family breakdown costs £50bn a year

When couples split up, families move from one to two households. Poverty is a common outcome that affects children. Six out of ten lone parents are supported by the state compared to one out of ten couple parents. That’s where most of the £50bn is spent.

UK Among highest family breakdown in Europe

Five years ago, the UK had the highest rate of family breakdown in Europe. We’re not doing as badly today, but only because of big falls in divorce rates. Alas there’s no sign of a similar improvement among cohabitees

Lower Divorce Rates – Higher Lone Parents

Divorce rates have plummeted over the past 3 decades, but the number of lone parents has doubled in the same period. Why?… Because unmarried parents make up only one in five cohabiting parents but are responsible for one half of all family breakdown.

Stability is found in Marriage

Whereas stability is the norm if parents are married (75% stay together), it is the exception if they are not (30% stay together). As a result, among parents of teens who are still together as a couple, nine out of ten are married

Single Most Important Factor

The single most important factor in a child’s healthy development is the stable relationship of the parents. Our groundbreaking research shows that family breakdown is the #1 predictor of teenage mental health problems.

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