Don Hayes MBE

Don Hayes was one of the founding trustees of the Education and Training Foundation (@E_T_Foundation); he was a trustee from July 2013 to March 2019. Don sadly passed away on 27 April 2020.

Don was born in Birmingham. He spent his childhood in Leicester, where he developed his lifelong passion for football, and lived in Nottingham from his teenage years. His dedicated career in the voluntary and community sector began in his mid-twenties, working in youth clubs and on community projects in some of the more deprived areas of Nottingham. In 1988, he was employed to lead an organisation called Bestco, a non-profit making partnership of voluntary organisations which aimed to support the disadvantaged in their efforts to gain employment.

He went on to work for Enable (an organisation that represents smaller voluntary FE organisations) from its formation. He was the CEO of Enable from 2002 to 2017, and held several voluntary positions, including the chair and trustee of Fair Train. In 2002, Don received an MBE for his services to the unemployed.

At his time of joining the ETF Board, Don reflected:

“I still believe absolutely that voluntary organisations have a vital role to play. My particular interest is in deprived communities — people who are not accessing the opportunities that are available and always seem to be left behind. Where there’s the creation of employment opportunities in cities, it’s about making sure they’ll actually get the jobs, and I see voluntary organisations as being key to that. We have to keep fighting because the voluntary sector kind of gets discounted or forgotten about.”

In addition to being on the ETF Board, Don was also the Chair of the Third Sector National Learning Alliance (TSNLA) from 2017 to 2020. Helen Pettifor (previous ETF Director of Professional Standards and Workforce Development) reflected that:

“Every single one of the TSNLA Board members were beavering away with the disenchanted, the dispossessed and the disinherited. They were experienced, wise and completely dedicated and they had seen it all before. Don was one of them and very much an exemplar of the kind of quiet heroism of getting on with things and only making the gentlest but most effective of fuss whenever they saw an injustice and knew what needed to be done. As Fields Wicker-Miurin says, true leaders know that it is not about them but starts with them; they build bridges and walk across them.”


David Russell, CEO of the Education and Training Foundation, said:

“Don was one of the founding trustees of the ETF. He had a long and distinguished career supporting the most socially engaged edge of the FE world, doing amazing work with teachers and trainers in the voluntary sector and adult education and training.

Don was a most loyal, positive, and sincere supporter of the ETF and then the Society for Education and Training (SET) when we created it. He often acted as the organisation’s better conscience, reminding us of the vital importance of responding to the needs of the small and diverse providers working in our sector.”

Don joined the ETF Board because he wanted to see the quality of teaching in FE supported and improved, and that the voluntary sector’s role in this was not forgotten. He made a huge contribution to the ETF. His leadership, sector knowledge and commitment made a significant difference to how we established ourselves and then developed the support we provide to the FE sector. Don was a positive and powerful champion for the community education sector and made sure that its importance to the lives of so many was recognised across the country and by Government. He will be missed, but his work will not be forgotten.

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