Independent Society Members (ISMs)

ISM stands for independent society member. Independent societies are co-operatives in their own right and are an important part of our own Society at the Co-op Group. Together, they have 15 seats on Council, where they represent members as a whole.

  • Steve Allsopp

    Steve Allsopp

    Midcounties Co-operative Society


    I began my life as a co-operator in the early 70s, with four years as a shelf stacker and Saturday boy in my local store in Swindon, where I still live now. This led in turn, in the early 80s, into support for my local Co-operative Development Agency (CDA) and membership of the Co-operative Party. I also served as Vice President and President of the Oxford, Swindon and Gloucester Co-operative. I served on the Board of Midcounties Co-operative Society from its formation until 2012 and was re-elected in November 2015. I have a keen interest in co-operative development.

  • John Dalley

    John Dalley (Senate)

    Scotmid Co-operative Society


    An independent society representative on the Members’ Council from Scotmid, where I am Society Secretary and Chief Financial Officer, giving me a depth of practical experience applying co-operative values and principles.

    A chartered accountant by trade, most of my career has been in retail and consumer goods. Using my co-op experience and retail sector business knowledge, my aspiration is to help the Council to positively challenge and support the Board in the delivery of long-term, sustainable success for the Co-op Group. I am married with two children and live in East Lothian and shop in the local Co-op store.

  • Elaine Dean

    Elaine Dean

    Co-operative Press


    I’m a lifelong co-operator and have been an elected member at Central England Society and its forbears for over 35 years. Currently, I am the Vice President. I represent the Co-operative Press, where I’ve been a director since 2008 and chair since 2013. I’ve previously been a Co-operative College governor, vice chair of Supporters Direct and a member of the Co-op's former Values and Principles Committee, representing all the independent societies. It is imperative for the wider movement that the Co-op regains lost ground and is successful for us all to move forward.

  • Laura Dunne

    Laura Dunne

    Lincolnshire Co-operative Society


    Alongside my role on the Council, my day job is working as the Head of Marketing & Membership for Lincolnshire Co-op, which is an independent society based in the East Midlands. When I’m not at work, I can generally be found running around after my husband and two young children and planning my next holiday! I hope that during my elected term on the Members' Council, we successfully relaunch our membership scheme, allowing members to carry their card with pride knowing that they own a share in one of the best and well-loved businesses in the UK.

  • David Paterson

    David Paterson

    Scotmid Co-operative Society


    My co-operative beliefs in values and principles are influenced by our members. As someone steeped in the history of our movement, and has experience and understanding of the interpretation of core financial information required, I am proud to serve on the Members' Council; the chance to expand my knowledge and experience in such an organisation is motivating. My experience as a regional and board member of Scotmid hopefully gives me the credentials required to serve the Co-op Group well.

  • Steve Hughes

    Steve Hughes

    Lincolnshire Co-operative Society


    My co-operative story starts in the 1960s, when I used to run to the local store for my parents. Before retiring, I worked for Lincolnshire Co-op for 30 years as a pharmacist branch manager and became a director in 2007. I believe that the way to a better society is through co-operation and education. When not “co-operating”, I spend a lot of my time as a governor at a local infant school.

  • Nick Matthews

    Nick Matthews (Senate)

    Heart of England Co-operative Society


    I am the current Chair of Co-operatives UK and a director of the Heart of England Co-operative Society. I teach in the Coventry University Business School, including lectures on co-operatives.

    I have a B.A.(Hons) in Social Science, a Post-Graduate Certificate in Industrial Relations, a Post Graduate Certificate in Education and an M.A. in Third World Studies, and I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I am an independent society member of the Council and Senate of the Co-op Group. A member of too many co-ops to list, a member of the Co-operative College and the Co-op Party. I am also reviews' editor of the UK Journal for Co-operative Studies.

  • Edward Parker

    Edward Parker

    Midcounties Co-operative Society


    I joined Oxford, Swindon & Gloucester Co-op in 2003. Shortly after, in 2005, ‘OS&G’ joined forces with West Midlands Co-op to form Midcounties Co-op. I took on the post of Secretary & Head of Governance then, a position I still hold.

    Midcounties has grown and changed so much since. But some things stay the same and keep me where I am.

    Midcounties has a real belief in the power of co-operation and the strength of the co-op values which we all hold dear. We do our best to put these into practice, which isn’t always easy when commercial drivers could point in a different direction. And then, there’s a sense of belonging to something bigger than Midcounties, and bigger than the co-op movement in the UK. I am so struck by how global co-operation is, and how it touches the lives of so many millions of people around the world, uniting us all in a common endeavour.

    On a more personal front, I’m married to Alice and we live near Oxford. We seem to have reached the stage where the kids have largely gone. So we’re doing our best to enjoy the bit more time we have (weekend Council meetings permitting!) to do more walking and cycling.

  • Bev Perkins

    Bev Perkins (Vice President and Senate)

    East of England Co-operative Society

    West Mersea

    Like you, I care deeply about The Co-op. I also represent members on the East of England Co-operative Society board. My voluntary experience spans 25 years and includes creating a community food festival and promoting volunteering and grassroots co-operation. As a director in multinational business, I realised that my passion was sustainable food. In 2007, I took a Masters degree in Sustainability and now work as a consultant on this issue. On the Council and Senate, I focus on balancing business performance with values and principles to best serve members' interests.

  • Jim Plumley

    Jim Plumley

    Channel Islands Co-operative Society

    St Mary

    I started working for the Birkenhead and District Co-operative Society in 1977 as a trainee manager. Over the next 21 years, I worked my way up through the society, holding several senior roles. In 1998, I was offered a position at the Channel Islands Co-operative Society, and now hold the position of Chief Commercial Officer. Having now spent 39 years working with the co-operative movement, you could say I am a true “co-operator”. I was honoured when I was accepted to sit on the Members’ Council, after spending so much of my working life within the movement.

  • Maria Lee

    Maria Lee

    Central England Co-operative Society


    Originally from London, I have spent most of my life living in the Midlands. I have two daughters and a husband who is a past president of the Midlands Co-operative Society. Most of my working life has been in education; most recently, I worked for an international development charity. I have been involved with the co-operative movement all my life and in particular, the Central England Co-operative Society. I have served as President for over two years and am an independent society member on the Members' Council. I enjoy reading, gentle walking and travel.

  • Jane Avery

    Central England Co-operative Society


    I have been a member of my independent co-operative society since 1978, when it was the Derby and Burton Co-operative Society; my first job was as a management trainee. During the induction week, I heard a presentation from the member relations officer and was hooked on the Co-op story: its history, radical business model and ethical values and principles resonated with me and I’ve spent most of the rest of my working life in the co-operative movement.

  • Alison Chester-Lambert

    Tamworth Co-operative Society


    As a newbie, I am brimming with enthusiasm and a fresh view point. Having no ingrained opinion, I approach each new issue with the curiosity and reflection of an outsider and the questioning, critical eye of a master's degree graduate.

    My background is in hospitality catering at management level and I currently chair a ladies business network. The health of the consumer and the planet are always of concern to me.

  • Chris Matthews

    East of England Co-operative Society


    I started at the Co-op aged 13. I have been an employee within the co-operative movement ever since and now manage a flagship supermarket for the East of England Co-operative Society. In my spare time, I am a director of Co-operatives East and an ambassador for the Co-op Juniors Theatre Company. I am also a volunteer NHS Community First Responder and regularly attend county shows, which I enjoy doing. I currently sit on the board at the East of England Co-operative Society.

  • Amber Vincent-Prior

    Southern Co-operative Society


    As a child, I used to go to the local Co-op store with, and for, my mother and joined the local retail co-op as a teenager. I am a member of many co-operative and mutual organisations, including: the Southern Co-op, the Co-op Party, the Co-operative Bank, the Co-op Group, the Nationwide Building Society, the Wessex Community Bank, the Midcounties Co-op and the Phone Co-op.

    My main career, for 35 years, was with the Inland Revenue (latterly HMRC), where over the years I did technical work, accounts, management, recruitment, training, and health and safety work. I have worked in end-of-life services since the 1980s, done voluntary youth work since my teenage years, sing in a local Co-op choir and have been a voluntary trade union representative since 1974.