A Mancunian by birth, and a Milton Keynesian by adoption, Ann Limb describes herself these days as a philanthropist, mover and Quaker.
Ann’s first career was in the public sector – in education and the civil service. She spent 25 years in adult and further education serving for ten years as Principal in Milton Keynes and five years in Cambridge. At the turn of the 21st century, she went on to head up the UK government’s flagship digital learning initiatives, learndirect and UK online, and the national e-services citizens programme gov.uk, before moving into the private sector in 2005. She worked as a government adviser in the UK and overseas, led in the Departments for Education and Business Innovation & Skills on the setting up the online learning service unionlearn and advised on the creation of online citizens services in a range of overseas nations.
As a business leader, Ann has been the independent chair of the UK Innovation Corridor since 2017. This is the country’s leading scitech region stretching from London to Cambridge. She took on this role after an 8-year stint between 2011-2019, as Chair of the country’s top performing Local Enterprise Partnership, South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP). Ann is one of only a handful of women nationally to have chaired a LEP. Since 2014, she also served as Chair of ENTRUST, the national regulator of the government’s environmental tax credit scheme, the Landfill Communities Fund and held a number of public and private sector non-executive directorships. These include between 2005 – 2011 Chair of Milton Keynes Partnership – the successor body to the Milton Keynes Development Corporation that established the new town in 1967 – and from 2011 – 2018, Board member at Homes England – a Ministerial appointment.
In the charitable sector, Ann has served since 2015 as Chair of the Scouts – the UK’s largest youth engagement and volunteering charity and was the first ever woman to take on this role. In June 2021, she becomes a Trustee of the Prince’s Foundation and in October 2021, upon relinquishing her role in Scouting, Ann will become Chair of the City & Guilds of London Institute, the first women in this charity’s 140+ year history to hold such a position. Ann is also Vice President the social mobility charity, the Helena Kennedy Foundation, which she founded in 1998 to promote social inclusion in adult, further and higher education by awarding bursaries to students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
A keen supporter of the arts, music and culture, Ann is a member of the SE Council of Arts Council England, a Trustee of The Stables theatre and Chair of IF, the biennial Milton Keynes International Festival. Since 2019, she has made substantial donations to the arts and culture in Milton Keynes, establishing the Limb Family Foyer in MK Gallery’s new extension, funding a unique hand cut standing stone installation created by Lida Lopes Cardozo-Kindersley at the Woburn Sands Quaker Burial Ground, and setting up the Limb Family Endowment Fund at The Stables Laine Dankworth Centre to engage the widest range of people with music and the arts and in particular to enable access for young people, disabled people and people from economic and socially deprived backgrounds.
In the 2011 Birthday Honours, Ann was awarded the OBE for work in education and in 2015 ‘upgraded’ to CBE for public and political services. Since 2011, she has been Deputy Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, where she has lived since 1986, and whence hails her wife Maggie. They were married after 33 years of partnership, in a Quaker wedding, held on 11 May 2019. Ann is High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire in nomination and will assume office in March 2023. In 2019, Ann was named #1 LGBTQ+ public sector role model in the OUTstanding List and one of the 50 most influential women born in the North of England in the Northern Power Women Power List.