About Us

Who was James (Walker) Kane?

The James Kane Foundation is funded through the legacy of the late James (Jim) Walker Kane, owner of JW Kane Precision Engineering Limited.

Jim Kane was born and bred in Portadown. On leaving school, he worked for over 10 years for a number of local companies as an engineer before setting up his own company. Over the next 30 years, Mr Kane grew James Kane Precision Engineering significantly. At its height in 2013, it had over 90 staff, attracting highly skilled engineers from across Northern Ireland. In 2014, shortly before his death, Jim Kane received an MBE for ‘services to the Aerospace Industry in Northern Ireland.’

James Kane Precision Engineering specialised in making parts for aeroplanes. Its clients included Bombardier, Thales and BE Aeorspace. The then Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster described the company in 2013 as was one of Northern Ireland’s “foremost aerospace-focused precision engineering companies”. Her department invested £900,000 in order to help them trade internationally, which they did very successfully, and still do today.

Jim Walker Kane passed away on 31st August 2014 leaving behind a thriving company that he had built from nothing. In his Will he had bequeathed all his shareholdings to be put into a charitable foundation. The James Kane Foundation was established in April 2016, and was registered on the 3rd August 2016 with the Charities Commission Northern Ireland.

Charity Objectives

The James Kane Foundation Charity Objects are:

“To advance education for the public benefit in Portadown and its environs in particular and elsewhere in Northern Ireland whether directly to individuals or indirectly through education bodies such as schools, colleges or third level institutions or employers by the provision of funding for work experience, employment opportunities or training opportunities or for the preparation for entry to any occupation, vocation, trade or profession or to enhance career development, skills and competencies within the area of benefit provided that the funding will not be used for anything which schools or colleges have a statutory duty to provide”.


“To provide any other purpose which is exclusively charitable according to the law in NI”

Our Board

 The James Kane Foundation are managed by an experienced Board of Trustees, with a background in business and education. The Trustees will collectively make decisions about grant giving and support. The administration of the Foundation is managed by Clifton House Centre, Belfast, ensuring the structures and processes are fit for purpose and supporting the Trustee’s to deliver on the Foundation’s aims and objectives.


The James Kane Foundation Board

Michael Wilson (Chair)

A former Managing Partner of Elliott Duffy Garrett, Solicitors, Michael has over 40 years’ experience as a solicitor.  He specialises in regulatory and governance matters, providing strategic advice at Board level to commercial, publicly funded and charity clients. He is also an accredited Mediator.

Michael is currently a member of the Appeals Panel Chartered Accountants Ireland (2021- ). His special Trustee appointments include the Protector of the Building Change Trust (2009 to 2019) and more recently the Protector of the Gallaher Trust (2018 to date).

He is a former Director of JW Kane Precision Engineering Limited. Currently he is Director of BDA (Property Projects) Limited (a subsidiary of the Northern Ireland Trade Union Educational & Social Centre Limited), and School Governor of two post-primary schools in Belfast and Ballynahinch.

Gavin Boyd

Gavin Boyd is a Chartered Accountant who has held senior positions on both the Public and Private sectors.

He was a Director and Managing Director in the Cawoods Group, the largest fuel distributor in Northern Ireland. He was also the Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA). As the first Chief Executive of the Education Authority (EA) he led the largest and most wide-ranging reform of education administration in Northern Ireland, creating a new regional organisation with over 40,000 staff and an annual budget of £2bn.

He is a member of the board of Sport NI and a school governor.

Charlie Jenkins

Charles (Charlie) is a Chartered Accountant living in Belfast. He was the Financial Director of a substantial international construction and construction materials Group based in Northern Ireland prior to his retirement.

He has held numerous government appointments including the Chairmanship of the Mater Hospital Trust and a board member of the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.

He has a wide experience in the charitable sector having been involved in many grant assessment and awarding organisations during his career.

He was a Director of James Kane (Precision Engineering) Limited, the genesis of the James Kane Foundation.

Gerry Loughran

Gerry Loughran was formerly Permanent Secretary Department of Economic Development  and subsequently Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

Since 2003 he has been Director and/or Chairman of 16 private sector companies. Gerry is a board member of the (NI) Education Authority. Currently he is involved with two private sector companies; Director of the Irish College in Leuven Belgium; Vice Chairman of the (NI) Assembly Independent Review of Education; Chair of the Board of Governors of St Malachy’s College; and Member of the Remuneration Committee of Queen’s University.

Paul Sweeney

Paul Sweeney began his professional career in the voluntary and community sector from 1979 to 1994. He joined the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) initially as an adviser on community development and reconciliation. He held a number of posts in the NICS, before his retirement in 2017, including Permanent Secretary in the Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure from 2006 – 2010, and Permanent Secretary in the Department of Education from 2010 – 2017.

Since retiring, he has engaged in a number of charities, and was appointed as Chair of the National Lottery Community Fund NI Committee in June 2021.

Mary Montgomery

Mary is the Principal of Belfast Boy’s Model, appointed in 2018. She previously served six years as Vice Principal however has been involved in the school community since 1993.

Mary was one of six expert panel members formed under the New Decade, New Approach agreement”. The result of this work, involving significant contribution from Mary, was the recently published ‘A Fair Start Report’.  Mary is currently also a Trustee of Streatbeat Youth Project, based in North Belfast, appointed in 2017. 

Lynn Connaughton

Lynn is highly experienced in business development within the further and higher education sector, with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry. She has project managed ConnectedNI since 2007.

ConnectedNI was the first Knowledge Exchange programme in the UK to be delivered across both Higher and Further Education, giving companies of all sizes access to the full range of services available from local universities and colleges including research, product development, knowledge exchange, innovation and training. Its ultimate aim is to develop interaction and stimulate innovation to benefit Northern Ireland companies and Northern Ireland’s economy.