South 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 South West region.

The stunning south west canals The stunning south west canals

Upcoming meetings

Search minutes of our past meetings

While we're actually the Wales & South West region, we have a separate Welsh advisory board, Bwrdd Glandŵr Cymru, looking after the interests of our Welsh waterways. So this board is able to focus just on the south west.

All our boards give local people:

  • a voice in developing and improving their waterways
  • a chance to connect with their waterside communities
  • an opportunity to help guide our decisions and strategies
  • the ability to support and champion the waterways in this region

Meet our regional advisory board members

David Hagg, Chair

David joined the Trust in 2013 as voluntary Chair of the South Wales & Severn Waterway Partnership. A chartered planner and chartered marketer, his local government career involved leadership roles in the North East and North West before joining Stroud District Council in 2001 as its Chief Executive. His authority led the restoration of the Stonehouse-Thrupp section of the Cotswold Canals - the partnership project winning three national awards as well as nine national/regional commendations between 2011 and 2017.

He has been a member of a wide range of national bodies, including Lord Low’s Commission on the future of legal advice services. David chairs South Gloucestershire and Stroud College and is also a member of the Cotswold Beacon Academy Trust.

Chris Brierley

Chris Brierley was appointed Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner (DPCC) for Gloucestershire in 2016. A self-confessed ‘news junkie’ who describes himself as ‘instinctively nosey’, Chris worked for the BBC as a broadcast journalist for 15 years prior to joining the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC). During that time, he was a political reporter for BBC Radio 5Live and BBC Radio Gloucestershire, dividing his time between studios in London, Bristol and Gloucester. It was also during this period that he says his interest and passion for public service developed.

Chris’ role as DPCC covers everything and anything, from deputising for the PCC at meetings and public events, to leading on work around mental health, partnership working and violence prevention. As an enthusiastic advocate of the Commissioner’s Fund, another important element of his role is making the public more aware of what the OPCC does and what it can achieve on their behalf.

David Fearns

David is originally from the northern edge of the Birmingham Canal Network, and remembers walks around Chasewater, the main water supply for BCN. He is a graduate materials scientist and retired 10 years ago after working for an international inks company for 30 years in various roles. David started volunteering approximately 9 years ago on the Kennet & Avon Canal, mainly around the Bath area. He is chairman of the Bath & Bristol branch, and also a trustee of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust, which was formed to champion the restoration of the K&A Canal. He owns a narrowboat and with his wife he continues to explore the canal network.

Lois Francis

Lois Francis has been a Regional Advisory Board member for the South West since 2012. Lois has been working with C&RT Explorers to encourage the recognition of the Canal & River Trust and to encourage people to visit their local canals. With the rebranding of the Trust to Health and Wellbeing and the pandemic that we are living through, this work is now becoming vital. Lois working career has been spent as a teacher, advisory teacher for Science and a head teacher. Lois also volunteers with the Cotswold Canals Connected project.

Edward Helps

Edward has wide experience in the leisure and boating industry and business. He is a director of ABC Leisure Group Ltd, an award winning boating and canal side business operating across England, Scotland and Wales. He is also a board member and director of the British Marine Federation, and National Boat Shows, organisations which supports and promotes the marine industry. Edward is a member of the Tourist Advisory Group, and a Trustee of the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal Trust helping to support and guide their restoration of the 34-mile length of historic canal. 

Bryony Houlden

Bryony is Chief Executive of South West Councils a membership body of all the local authorities in the South West. In that capacity she supports strategic information sharing and the provision of specialist HR and training services. She was previously a civil servant working in Government Office South West as Director of housing, planning, transport and the environment. She had a variety of other roles in central government including delivery of the Rural Challenge and Rough Sleepers programmes. Bryony was a founding member of both Sustainability South West and Equalities South West.   

Mary Hutton

Biography to follow shortly.

Tamsin Phipps MBE

Tamsin has worked in a variety of industries from public to private sector including HM Forces as an army officer. Her career started in education and moved into learning and development then into consultancy and latterly government and public affairs. She is skilled at working across all levels of society, local, national, Parliamentary and international with a wide variety of communities including volunteers.

Through paid or voluntary work, Tamsin has helped provide people with a wide variety of opportunities and experiences to reach their potential. With a background in education and development as well as her extensive voluntary work, she has been able to engage with a huge variety of people from all parts of society. She is a project planner, finishing to specification on time and in budget. Tamsin currently works for the Church of England at Reading Minster where her role includes working with people on the margins of society, homeless, LGBT community and those who have had mental health issues.

Making a difference to society and the community has always been a key part of her ethos. Tamsin was formerly the Chair of the Trust’s Kennet & Avon Waterways Partnership where she helped raise the profile of the new Trust, their work, facilities and the benefits they bring to the whole population. As Chair of the K&A, Tamsin was an ex officio Council member.

John Podmore

John is Professor of Sociology at the University of Durham, former prison governor and author. He spent 25 years in the prison service and was the Governor of HMP Brixton, Belmarsh and Swaleside as well as a prison inspector and head of the corruption prevention unit. Since leaving the service he has worked internationally on a number of prison-related projects.

He has also worked across the Third Sector as Chair and Trustee of a number of charities. He has navigated much of the canal network and in addition to being a member of the South West Regional Advisory Board, is also a Volunteer Lockkeeper on the Kennet & Avon Canal. 


Last date edited: 17 May 2021