SBY is thrilled to announce that Denis Burn, our founding Chair, has been awarded an MBE. Denis chaired the organisation from November 2012 until September 2019 and still continues to advocate for the charity. Denis oversaw the growth of SBY, from an initial idea to a flourishing organisation serving thousands of young people in Bristol and Somerset.

Denis’s time commitment to SBY cannot be underestimated; this commitment is clearly underpinned by a deep desire to help and serve others in a multitude of different ways. One of Denis’s defining features is his ability to operate strategically and to focus on the tiny details that really matter and make a difference. Denis cares about both the biggest and the lowest-profile projects.

SBY was certainly not Denis’s only commitment. He chaired the University of Bristol’s Board of Trustees, the supreme governing body of the University, for which he received an Honorary fellowship in April 2022, the universities highest honour.

Denis was a founding Trustee (and Chair) of MusicSpace, a charity that offers music therapy for people with severe autism. He was also the champion and founding Chair of Merchants’ Academy, which is now a multi-academy trust with more than 3,200 pupils. As Chair of the Theatre Royal Trust and later Vice-Chair of Bristol Old Vic, he was instrumental in raising £25 million to fund the building’s much-celebrated refurbishment.

I had the privilege of working closely with Denis for many years; during that time I built a deep admiration for the way that he worked; He was always patient and always ready to discuss whatever issue the charity was facing. The multitude of connections SBY has now are almost all down to initial introductions from Denis.

The community of Bristol and beyond is a better place because of Denis Burn.

Thank you Denis.


Camilla Chandler-Mant
Chief Executive South Bristol Youth.