The charity making life better by water

North West Regional Advisory Board

The main purpose of our regional advisory board is to connect people and communities with the local canals and rivers here in the North West region.

We recently held our North West Annual Meeting which is still available to view. If you have any questions please contact us at

Upcoming Meetings:

Meet our regional advisory board members

Chair - Professor Nigel Weatherill DL

After graduating in mathematics, Nigel's first job was as mathematician in the Research Team of Anglian Water Authority. He has held senior positions in the UK at Swansea (1986-2008), Birmingham (2008-2011) and Liverpool John Moores (vice-chancellor 2011-2018). He has held positions around the world, including adjunct professor at the US National Science Foundation Engineering Research Centre, Mississippi State University and scientist-in-residence, Singapore. He has had national responsibilities, including executive director of the National Higher Education STEM Programme for England and Wales. He chaired the Commission on Environmental Sustainability for the mayor of Liverpool.

Until recently, Nigel was the honorary colonel of the Liverpool University Officer Training Corps, a board member of the CBI North West Regional Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership for the Liverpool City Region. He is a member of the Arts Council (North). He was appointed chair of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic in 2015 and chair of the Royal Court Liverpool in 2018.

Nigel is a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, a fellow of the Institute of Mathematics and Its Applications and a companion of the Chartered Management Institute. He is a chartered mathematician, chartered engineer and chartered scientist. He is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society of the Arts, an honorary fellow of Swansea University and an honorary member of the Liverpool Medical Institution.

In April 2016 Nigel was commissioned as a deputy lieutenant of Merseyside. In March 2018 he was elected an honorary bencher of the Middle Temple, in July 2018 was made an honorary friend of Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and in October 2018 was recognized as an honorary fellow of the Manufacturing Technology Centre.

Gerry Proctor MBE

Gerry was born in Liverpool, educated at St Mary's College, Crosby and Ushaw College, University of Durham (BAHons Theology). He worked in St Helens, particularly with young people, from 1977-1985 when he volunteered for work in Ecuador and Bolivia with deprived communities for six years.

He returned to Liverpool to work in the Dovecot and Knotty Ash neighbourhoods of the city from 1991-2003 when he moved into an apartment on the site of the former Herculaneum Dock. He is chair of Engage Liverpool CIC which he helped to found with other residents and they work to improve the quality of life and sustainability of city centre living. Gerry received an MPhil and an MBE in 2013.

Rt Hon Sir Robert Atkins

Robert has been involved in or associated with canals, rivers and waterways for many years. Whether as a former boat-owner or as Minister for the Waterways, he has had a strong commitment to the past, present and future of one of Britain's vital heritage, tourist and environmental assets. Robert has extensive experience and connections to Local and National Government as a significant beneficial contribution to the Board's activities.

Lukman Patel

Lukman is the current Chief Executive and former Chief Operating Officer of Burnley Borough Council. A solicitor by profession, Lukman was formerly the Head of Governance, Property, Law, and Regulation at Burnley Borough Council and the Head of Legal (Environment) at Trafford Borough Council. Born and raised in Pennine Lancashire, Lukman has a strong affinity with the Leeds & Liverpool canal. He has a particular passion to support the improvement of the canal supporting appropriate investment and development in and around the canal corridor and the work of social enterprises. He has a strong desire to implement the Burnley Town Centre and Canalside Masterplan. Lukman lives in East Lancashire with his young family and enjoys cycling and swimming when he can find the time.

Dharma Kovvuri

Dharma is the Dean of UCLan Burnley Campus and is responsible for developing UCLan's academic courses and business engagement in East Lancashire. He worked with local stakeholders to secure funding for the Campus Masterplan and helped develop an inspirational Canalside Campus in Burnley. Dharma has 30 years’ experience working in Higher Education in a variety of roles such as Dean of Business School, Head of Undergraduate Programmes and Associate Dean (International). Dharma is the academic adviser to Sino-British Applied Industry Relevant programme in China. At a regional level Dharma is a member of Burnley Bondholders’ Focus Group, on the North-West Advisory Board of the Canals and Rivers Trust, Board Member of Preston Youth Zone, a founder of the Lancashire Levy Transfer Network (created to distribute unspent levy to SMEs and charities) and was previously a committee member of the Institute of Directors, Lancashire Branch. At a national level he is the Vice-Chair for Degree Apprenticeship Working Group for Chartered Association of Business Schools. Dharma’s qualifications include Higher National Diploma in Business and Finance, BA (Hons) Management and Organisation Studies and Masters in Business Administration. He is also a Senior Fellow Higher Education Academy (FHEA).

Last Edited: 02 October 2023

photo of a location on the canals
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