New Chair appointed to the National Galleries of Scotland Board

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop announced today the appointment of Benny Higgins to succeed Ben Thomson as the new Chair of the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) Board. The Cabinet Secretary said:

“I am pleased to welcome Benny Higgins as the new Chair of the Board of Trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland. Having served as a member of the NGS Board for three years now, he has been a real asset to the organisation, bringing in a wealth of experience and business acumen. 

“Building on the legacy of the current Chair Ben Thomson, under whose leadership NGS has flourished into an organisation of international reputation, I am confident that he will pursue the Board’s good work and ensure that the NGS will continue to inspire a wider national and international audience through its innovative programme of exhibitions and activities.”

Benny Higgins

Benny Higgins is Chief Executive of Tesco Bank and Group Strategy Director for Tesco PLC. He is also a member of the Tesco Executive Committee.

He began his career at Standard Life in 1983 where he joined as an actuarial student and became a member of the Standard Life Group Executive in 1996. In 1997, he moved to the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to become Chief Executive of Retail Banking during which time he led the successful integration of NatWest Retail Banking, one of the largest mergers ever undertaken in UK banking.  He became Chief Executive Officer of the Retail Business of HBOS plc. in 2006, before joining Tesco Bank as Chief Executive in 2008.

Benny holds a First Class Honours degree in Mathematics from the University of Glasgow and became a Fellow of the Faculty of Actuaries in 1986. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland, a member of the Scottish Government Financial Services Advisory Board (FiSAB) and a member of the Financial Capability Board.  He is also a Non-Executive Director of the Buccleuch Estates, a Trustee of the Edinburgh International Culture Summit and a Prince’s Trust Ambassador.


This appointment which is regulated by the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland will run for four years from from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2021.

The appointment which is part-time is non-remunerated for a time commitment of 3-4 days per month.

Ministerial appointments

 Benny Higgins currently does not hold any other Public Appointments.

Political activity

 All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process.

In accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees’ political activity within the last five years (if there is any to be declared) to be made public.  

Benny Higgins has had no political activity in the last 5 years.


NGS is one of Scotland’s most popular cultural destinations, and in 2016 it welcomed more than 2.4 million visitors to its Galleries. It ranks within the top thirty most visited museums anywhere in the world. Further information is available at

The organisation is governed by a Board of Trustees which is accountable to the public through Ministers and the Scottish Parliament for the discharging of the functions as defined in the National Heritage (Scotland) Act 1906 (as amended in 1985).


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