Patrons and Governing Body




HRH The Prince of Wales



Diego Paternò Castello di San Giuliano






As a charity the British Institute of Florence has a board of unpaid trustees called Governors who hold the charity in trust, set the strategic direction and appoint the director. The following are currently serving as Governors:


Christopher Prentice - Chairman

Christopher worked for 39 years in the UK Foreign Service, before retiring in 2016. His final posting was as Ambassador to Italy for five years. He has been married to Nina since 1978. They have four children and a growing number of grandchildren. Their main home is in Oxfordshire but they also enjoy regular visits to a family home of Nina’s in the Val d’Aosta.


Maria Grazia Antoci, TEP

Maria, a lawyer based in Florence and specialised in international private law, works helping clients with interests spread across the world to solve matters involving different countries and jurisdictions. She has been assisting members of the British Community, living or having interests in Italy, in cross-border legal matters for more than 23 years. Her main areas of work are real estate, estate planning and Wills, administration of estates in cross-border successions, protection of vulnerable  adults and  defense of human rights,  intellectual property law and fashion law. She is a full member of STEP (TEP) that is the global professional association for practitioners who specialise in family inheritance and succession planning; she is also the  coordinator for Tuscany of “Giustizia per i Diritti” a network of lawyers of the association “Cittadinanzattiva”. She was appointed honorary secretary for Tuscany of the British Chamber of Commerce for Italy.


Beatrice Bargagli Stoffi

Beartrice works for the Leeu Collection as Office Manager of Leeu Villa Querce. She was previously on the management board for the Mayor’s Office – International and Ceremonial relations – of the Municipality of Florence and she was Head Secretary for the Management Board for Tourism Agency of Florence and Head Secretary to the Minister of Culture and Tourism for the Province of Florence. She founded the Associazione Atelier degli Artigianelli, a cultural association that offers training courses in traditional artisanal crafts and she is the co-founder of the Associazione Amici della Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze.


Mr Giacomo Cortesi


Alessandra Petrucci - Rector, University of Florence 



Mr Morgan Fiumi




Loyd Grossman CBE

Loyd is a broadcaster and entrepreneur long associated with culture and education. He is Chairman of the Royal Parks and Chairman of Gresham College and a Trustee of the Warburg Charitable Trust. His past appointments include Chairman of the Churches Conservation Trust, Chairman of the University for the Creative Arts, Chairman of National Museums Liverpool, Vice Chairman of the Royal Drawing School and a Governor and Member of Council of the London School of Economics. He is a keen guitarist and this year performed for the eighth time at Glastonbury.


Isobel McGregor

Isobel has had a long career in education in Scotland and world-wide.  After some 15 years as a teacher and working for a local authority, she joined Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education in Scotland where she fulfilled a number of roles.  Since retiring from that post, she has worked with SICI (Standing International Conference of Inspectorates - the European association for inspectorates of education) and for OECD as an expert consultant. These involvements have taken her to many countries in Europe and beyond.  In addition, she has worked internationally at Government level as an individual, particularly in the context of providing consultation on educational improvement, notably in Mexico and South American countries and most recently in France and Morocco. 


David Nightingale 

David has been Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Kent since 2002, shouldering a wide range of responsibilities since that time. He is an ancient historian by training and lived for a year whilst a Craven Fellow at the British School of Rome. He has been an active member of the Council of International Schools, chairing its UK higher education committee. He is the Chair of Governors of the University of Kent Academy Trust where the University is sponsor of two schools and is a trustee of The Place, the London-based dance organisation which incorporates the London Contemporary Dance School. 


James Stewart - Treasurer

James has spent a thirty year career at Schroders, the London-based investment firm, as both an investment and business manager. His first career was in the British Army.  He is an Associate of the CFA Society of the UK and has a Degree in Geography from Durham University.


Luke Syson 

Luke is the fourteenth Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum. From 2012-19, he was Chairman of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, where he led on the complete refurbishment of the British Galleries, a $22m project, which opened in March 2020. Luke has held curatorial positions at the British Museum, V&A and the National Gallery – where he led the successful campaign to acquire Raphael’s Madonna of the Pinks for the nation and curated the highly-acclaimed exhibition, Leonardo da Vinci – Painter at the Court of Milan in 2011.


Ex officio


Jill Morris CMG - Honorary President

Jill was appointed Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Italian Republic and Her Majesty's non-resident Ambassador to the Republic of San Marino in succession to Mr Christopher Prentice CMG. Ambassador Morris took up her appointment in July 2016.


Rachel Launay

Rachel started in her role as Country Director, British Council Italy in January 2020. Rachel has worked for the British Council for almost 25 years. She is a trained teacher of English, teacher trainer and specializes in Applied Linguistics. She began her career in East Asia - Thailand, South Korea and Hong Kong before moving into academic management and broader cultural relations work in Portugal and then London. She has worked closely with the Foreign Office both in London before moving to Berlin where she was Country Director Germany for 5 years. She is passionate about language learning and has spoken French and German from a young age. She is now learning Italian! Rachel has a BA in French and German from East Anglia University, a Post Grad Diploma in Management from Leicester University and an MA in ELT and Applied Linguistics from Kings College London.


Honorary Life Governors


Michael Griffiths OBE

Michael was Managing Partner in Italy of Towers Perrin (now Towers Watson) an international firm of actuarial consultants before retiring in 2003. He has lived in in Florence since 1978 and was President of the British Chamber of Commerce for Italy from 1993 to 1997.