John Cooke, English National Opera’s (ENO) board secretary, has been awarded an MBE for services to opera in the 2022 New Year’s Honours, the London-based opera company has announced. This recognition comes as he celebrates a quarter century in the role.

Prior to taking up the role of board secretary, Cooke sat on the board of the ENO Benevolent Fund, including 10 years as chairperson. The fund is a registered charity that aims to support ENO performers and those working behind the scenes when things go wrong through illness, accident or some other hardship.

The ENO congratulated Cooke on his award, stating that his service in his various roles with the company has been exceptional, especially considering they have been voluntary. The company commented on his discretion and unrelenting eye for detail, saying he has proven to be a valuable adviser at all times.

ENO Chair Harry Brunjes stated: “This award is fully deserved and much appreciated. In the case of John Cooke, MBE means ‘Magnificent Benevolence to ENO’. After 25 years John is no longer an unsung hero.”

This recognition comes just a couple of months after Cooke marked 25 years as board secretary with ENO. A celebratory dinner was held in London to honour the occasion. All the chairs Cooke has worked alongside were present: John Baker (1994-2000), Martin Smith (2000-05), Vernon Ellis (2005-12), Peter Bazalgette (2013-14) and Harry Brunjes (2015 to date).

ENO President Vernon Ellis was also in attendance. “John Cooke is a great constant and has provided excellent service not just to the board but to the whole institution,” he commented.

Brunjes added: “John Cooke has an astonishing eye for detail, is completely dependable and I speak for all the chairs when I say it has been both reassuring and a pleasure to have worked with him. We are all looking forward to the next 25 years!”

Cooke is an international economic relations consultant and chairs an expert group in the City of London on financial services liberalisation. He brings to the board his expertise in finance and governance. He previously worked as a senior civil servant and then at the Association of British Insurers. He regularly contributes to conferences, seminars and publications on international trade policy and financial services regulatory issues.



ENO Board Secretary John Cooke (seated, centre) was awarded an MBE in the 2022 New Year’s Honours.