Shaun Matthews, Founder

Shaun is a time-served engineer and former Divisional Managing Director of DEB Group Ltd’s dispensing companies in the UK and North America – the company responsible for that most historic of motoring products: Swarfega.

Shaun was fortunate to be one of the last broadly-trained apprentices under the post war Industry Training Board (ITB) levy-funded system which was abolished in the early 1980s.  This resulted in a chronic lack of training places for young people at a time when UK industry was rapidly contracting. The few companies that continued to train young people were forced to reduce the scope of their apprenticeships.

Throughout his working career Shaun witnessed the ageing skillset and the absence of younger skilled people coming through. This problem is particularly acute in the classic vehicle restoration world so Shaun conceived of a solution: Great Northern Classics.

Mike Copestake, Director

Mike Copestake is a former senior partner of Freeths, Derby, where he specialised as a corporate lawyer. Mike is also the founder and first Chair of Marketing Derby. He’s also a Board member of the Derby Renaissance Board. Mike’s life passion is reviving old buildings – whether disused churches or industrial buildings – and bringing them back into use. He is the Director of Church Converts, which specialises in regenerating redundant, dilapidated listed churches. Mike’s projects include St Werburghs, Derby (formerly a restaurant but now restored as a church), St Peters Coventry (apartments), St Johns Hanley,Stoke-on-Trent (antiques centre) and the former Welsh Baptist Chapel, Manchester (student apartments). He has also restored an early Stuart home in Derbyshire to its former glory after the house was almost destroyed in a fire.


Derek Latham, Director

Derek Latham is a cycle-obsessed conservation architect, town planner, landscape architect and urbanist whose accolades are enough to comprise an entire alphabet of their own: HonDPr Dip Arch RIBA Dip TP MRTPI Dip LD MLI AABC IHBC AoU AHI FRSA.

Derek is founder of the award-winning Latham Architects, whose clients include the Royal Household and Duchy of Cornwall, English Heritage and numerous major corporations.

Derek has a seemingly infinite list of heritage credentials, including Chair of Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust, Chair of Derwent Valley Trust, former member of Historic England’s Urban Panel, former Heritage Lottery East Midlands committee member, Visiting Professor at Derby University, author of Creative Re-use of Buildings Donhead 2000 (2 Vol) and Director of Church Converts Limited. And last but not least, he’s also ambassador for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. Needless to say, his expertise and experience is invaluable.

Rob Jones, Director

Rob Jones is a qualified accountant and was formerly Group Finance Director and shareholder at VSG before selling to Compass Group plc. He is now Chair of Turning Point Business Angels and a non-executive director of several organisations including Nottingham Rugby Club.

Rob and his family successfully converted an old school into their family home, winning the 2016 East Midlands LABC award for “Best Change of Use of an Existing Building or Conversion”

As a fan of British supercars, Rob is excited by the prospect of the Great Northern Classics project and believes passionately in the training and development of aspiring young mechanics.

Rachael Clegg, Creative Director

 Rachael Clegg has classic motorsport running through her blood. Born into a family of TT racers and motorcycle dealers, Rachael was raised in among the racing ‘circus’, travelling from circuit to circuit most weekends. However, having no racing prowess whatsoever, she pursed a creative and academic career, cutting her teeth at Tate Liverpool and graduating from the University of York with a first class degree and later MA in art history, soon followed by an MA.

Since then Rachael has retrained as a journalist and now specialises in classic cars and motorcycles. She has contributed to numerous magazines and newspapers, including Octane, The Classic Motorcycle, The Daily Telegraph and Classic Bike Guide.

This is in addition to Rachael’s creative practice, for which she creates surreal art photography. Her images illustrate the history of various subjects, including motorsport circuits such as the Isle of Man TT and the Nürburgring. Her limited edition photographic prints are collected across the globe.

Matt Curtis

Matt Curtis will manage Great Northern Classics Heritage Skills Centre Ltd. Matt is an award-winning classic car restorer and seasoned motor vehicle technician, who lives and breathes classic vehicles. When he’s not under the bonnet of his own car – a 1974 Citröen CX 2000 – he’s restoring someone else’s pride and joy.

Matt was at Derby College for ten years as the head of its Motor Vehicle and Engineering Department. Here he implemented a robust, diverse programme for young people – many of whom have gone on to have successful careers in the motor industry.