The charity making life better by water

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

Upcoming Meetings:

While we're actually the Wales & South West region, we have a separate Welsh advisory board, Bwrdd Gland┼Ár 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 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 Kennet & Avon Canal. He owns a narrowboat and with his wife he continues to explore the canal network.

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

Mary is Chief Executive of the Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board, a statutory NHS body that came into being in April 2022. It replaced the One Gloucestershire Integrated Care System, a voluntary partnership between the NHS and care organisations in the county, which she led from its inception in 2018.

Mary has a distinguished 30 year career in the NHS, with over 15 years in senior roles in Bristol, Swindon, Wiltshire and Berkshire. Between 2007-2011 she was Director of Finance, Performance and Commissioning at North Somerset. Moving to Gloucestershire in 2011 to be Director of Finance and Deputy Chief Executive, she became Accountable Officer of NHS Clinical Commissioning Group in April 2013.

Mary has a keen interest in youth work; acting as a volunteer for young people in Stroud and involved in a range of community projects for over 30 years.

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 lock keeper on the Kennet & Avon Canal.

Last Edited: 20 June 2023

photo of a location on the canals
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