Martin Houghton-Brown
Secretary General
Martin came to the International Award from St John Ambulance where he had been Chief Executive since January 2018. He has a strong track record of giving people – especially young people – the chance to fulfil their potential through volunteering, education and training. He was responsible for leading the volunteer vaccination effort for England, introducing the national NHS Cadet programme and pioneering work with young people at risk of street violence. He has also overseen the rise of St John’s cadets taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award from 30 participants a year in 2018 to over 700 in 2023. 

Prior to St John’s, Martin was Chief Executive of Depaul UK, which works with homeless young people sleeping rough on the streets, where he grew the charity’s work, especially its ground-breaking Nightstop service. While at the charity Missing People, he successfully campaigned for a new missing person’s law and launched the new national telephone number for missing people. He has also held roles at the Children’s Society and served as Chair of the Board of YMCA England & Wales. 

Martin undertook his Duke of Edinburgh’s Award through the Royal Air Force Air Cadets and was presented with his Gold Award by HRH The Prince Philip, the late Duke of Edinburgh.  


“I have known the power of Non-Formal Education and Learning throughout my career; from teaching to youth work to training first aid. My own Award experience culminating in Gold was formative, proving to myself that I could do things that I didn’t think were within my ability. The way that The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award enables young people to set their own challenges and to achieve them, puts a very big smile on their face. Fundamentally I believe that every young person deserves the chance to experience that feeling.

With successful Award providers around the world across a wide range of nations, I see a very real opportunity to partner globally to expand the Award. I know HRH The Duke of Edinburgh is personally invested in seeing the Award family grow. I am honoured to have the opportunity to lead this great organisation on that journey.”
- Martin Houghton-Brown