Michael Cashman, Rebecca Wragg Sykes, and Roger Hutton join Humanists UK as new patrons

27 March, 2024

Humanists UK is delighted to announce the appointment of three new patrons, Labour peer and activist Lord Michael Cashman, archaeologist and writer Rebecca Wragg Sykes, and former senior civil servant Roger Hutton. They join a stable of over 200 Humanists UK patrons with notable careers in arts, literature, science, academia, politics, and community and civic activism.

Lord Michael Cashman is an actor, activist, MEP, co-founder of Stonewall, and member of the House of Lords. As an actor, he is famed for his groundbreaking role as Colin Russell in EastEnders and the first gay kiss on a British soap in 1987. Transitioning into politics, he served as an MEP for the West Midlands from 1999 to 2014, acting as Labour’s human rights spokesperson in the European Parliament and a Civil Liberties Committee member. He is now a Member of the House of Lords. He is a celebrated LGBT rights activist, having co-founded the charity Stonewall and has received the Pink News Lifetime Achievement Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the European Diversity Awards. In 2013, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services to the public and politics.

Dr Rebecca Wragg Sykes is an archaeologist, author, and public scholar. Her critically acclaimed book Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art is published in 20 languages, has won several awards, including the 2021 PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize, and has been recognised globally, featuring in the New York Times‘ 100 Notable Books. In 2022, Rebecca received the Royal Anthropological Institute’s Public Anthropology Award and the Prehistoric Society’s President’s Award. In 2024, she was awarded the Darwin Day medal by Humanists UK in recognition of her promotion of human origins and evolution, and her role as co-founder in 2013 of the influential organisation TrowelBlazers, highlighting women past and present within archaeology and the Earth Sciences. Rebecca delivered its Darwin Day Lecture in 2024 on ‘Humanity’s Superpower: Lessons in Community and Empathy from 4 Million to 40,000 Years Ago’. 

Dr Roger Hutton is a former Senior Civil Servant in the UK’s Ministry of Defence, his last role being Director International Security and Director Chilcot, overseeing operational security policies globally and the MOD’s response to the Iraq Inquiry. He remains engaged in international security and decision-making as an Honorary Associate Professor at the University of Exeter. From 2015-2020, Roger championed non-religious and humanist personnel in the MOD, now serving as President of Defence Humanists. He advocates for the non-religious in UK Defence, contributing to non-religious Remembrance and pastoral support initiatives.

Commenting on their appointment, Chief Executive Andrew Copson said:

‘We’re thrilled to announce three new patrons to Humanists UK. Each of them have unique and impressive backgrounds — from groundbreaking achievements in LGBT activism and civil rights, to pioneering work in archaeology and science communication, and influential roles in public service and security policy. We look forward to the insights and experiences they will share with us!’


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Kathy Riddick at press@humanists.uk or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.

Humanists UK has over 200 patrons who support its work in various ways through their expertise and prominence in various fields. Existing patrons include significant figures from the spheres of science, philosophy, human rights activism, politics, the arts, and broadcasting. The President of Humanists UK is the geneticist, science writer, and broadcaster, Dr Adam Rutherford. He is supported by Vice Presidents Professor Alice Roberts, Shaparak Khorsandi, Professor Jim Al-Khalili, Professor AC Grayling, and Polly Toynbee.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 120,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.