Richy Thompson appointed new BHA Director of Public Affairs and Policy

After five years as its Director of Public Affairs and Policy, Pavan Dhaliwal is leaving the British Humanist Association (BHA). She is succeeded today by Richy Thompson, the BHA’s former Campaigns Manager.

Richy Thompson has worked as the BHA’s Campaigns Manager for the past two years. Prior to that he spent four years as its Education Campaigner, and was also previously the President of the Atheist, Humanist, and Secular Students. He is currently the elected Treasurer of the Religious Education Council of England and Wales, and before he took on his new role was a member of the advisory group of the Sex Education Forum and the Vice Chair of Lambeth Standing Advisory Council on RE. During his time at the BHA, he has proven himself as a formidable campaigner in education and wider policies including securing the teaching of evolution on the primary curriculum and exposing in the landmark report An Unholy Mess how virtually every religiously selective school in England is breaking the law on admissions.

Commenting on her departure, Pavan said, ‘I have had five extraordinary years at the BHA and am proud to have been part of the transformation we’ve undergone in that time and to have been part of such an inspiring team. I am delighted that Richy will now take up the baton. He will undoubtedly be a success and continue to be a credit to the BHA as he has been for the last five years.’

On his new post, Richy commented, ‘I’m delighted to be taking the BHA’s public affairs and policy work forward. In 2017 we’ll be focussing on ethical issues such as assisted dying, abortion, and marriage laws, the provision of non-religious pastoral support in hospitals and prisons, ‘faith’ schools, the school curriculum, and the state of secularism in the UK. Working with Pavan these past five years has been a pleasure, and I very much hope we are able to be as successful in the future as we have been during her time in charge.’

BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘Pavan’s tenure in charge of our public affairs and policy team has seen a continual growth in the public profile and stature of the BHA. Our prominent successes in that time include securing NHS England guidance requiring equal support for the non-religious; securing, as part of the Same-Sex Marriage Act, the power for ministers to give legal recognition humanist marriage in England and Wales; ensuring creationism cannot be taught as science in English state schools, while evolution must be taught in primaries; and winning a High Court case against the Government over the exclusion of Humanism from the school curriculum.

‘Pavan has also ensured other areas of our work have remained high on the public agenda, for example through our interventions in Paul Lamb and Tony Nicklinson’s assisted dying cases, and our efforts to ensure abortion is legalised in Northern Ireland. Her contribution has been outstanding and she will be greatly missed.

‘Richy has been working with Pavan throughout her time here, having started with us shortly before she did, and they have formed a strong partnership. For the past two years he has been managing our education campaigner, and now his role will expand to take on the whole of the team. We can all have full confidence that our public affairs work will go from strength to strength under Richy’s effective leadership, and look forward to many more successes in the years to come.’


For more information, or to arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson at, or BHA Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at or on 020 7324 3072.

An image of Richy is available at

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.