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The charity making life better by water

West Midlands 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 West Midlands region.

Take a break in Birmingham

Upcoming Meetings:

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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

Find out about opportunities to join the West Midlands advisory board

Meet our regional advisory board members

Chair - John Hudson OBE DL

John was an apprentice with BSA Motorcycles in Birmingham, obtaining a Masters degree in production engineering and moved to Morphy Richards Ltd in Doncaster becoming its MD.

After qualifying as a chartered engineer he joined the Delta group and eventually became MD of their Fluid Controls division in West Bromwich. He moved to Telford to become CEO of Wagon Group plc for 10 years and since then has been CEO/Chair of private equity-backed businesses and served for 10 years each on the boards of two listed PLCs as a non-executive director.

He served as president of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, chair of the West Midlands Industrial Development Board and was chair of Birmingham Airport for 20 years. He was awarded an OBE in 2003 and is a deputy lieutenant for the West Midlands, was High Sheriff of the West Midlands 2017/8 and holds an honorary doctorate.

John McNicholas

John has been a member of the Council for Lower Stoke since 1986, prior to which he was a shop steward at Jaguar Cars. He has held many responsible positions for the City Council including Chair of P&A, Environment and more recently Transportation. John's appointment will fill a much-needed gap in Coventry as they run up to the City of Culture in 2021.

Helen Paterson

Helen is Chief Executive at Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council. After initially teaching in Yorkshire she successfully led three Primary schools in Hampshire. From 2003 she was a Director in Solihull and Executive Director of Children's Services in Sunderland 2005-10. From 2010, in Sunderland, as Strategic Director for Transformation, she led the Council's business transformation, efficiency and improvement work.

She joined Walsall in 2017 after being Chief Executive at Wrexham County Borough Council from 2011-17. Helen is currently Secretary of the Association of Black Country Authorities and Black Country Executive Joint Committee. Helen is also Chairman of West Midlands Metropolitan Chief Executives Group. Helen is a JP; Visiting Professor; keen daily swimmer and small scale keeper of chickens.

Prubhjyot Singh

Prubhjyot was born in Kenya but spent his childhood living in Punjab before moving to England at the age of 10. Having been the first person in the family to attend university, he studied BEng in Avionics Technology before going on to work on European Space Agency projects such as ExoMars and BepiColombo.

He is currently working as a Quality Manager within the technical ceramics industry supplying parts to industries such as automotive, medical, nuclear and space. Prubhjyot is also a founding director of EcoSikhUK Community Interest Company, a non-profit organisation which is part of a wider global climate action programme by Eco-Sikh – the Sikh community's contribution to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) / Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) Plans for Generational Change Project.

Nick Giess

Nick is a serving Police Officer in the West Midlands. He has been in the police for 29 years and he is currently the Constituency Inspector for the Selly Oak area of Birmingham. Outside of policing, Nick has a background in volunteering with youth organisations, having previously run an Air Cadet Unit and currently being an assistant leader at an Explorer Scout Group. He was part of the 2019 Hereford & Worcestershire Scout Contingent, who spent a month in Kenya and Tanzania building water reclamation and storage facilities.

Dean Hill

Dean has over 30 years' experience in the Physical Activity, Sport and Public Health sector mainly within the NHS and local authority settings, with a brief spell in the private sector as an outdoor activity consultant. He has a strong and consistent focus on place-based work, addressing inequalities and promoting positive mental health through physical activity and sport.

His current role is as the Physical Activity and Wellbeing Legacy (PAWL) Lead for the Commonwealth Games, Birmingham 2022. The role is funded by Sport England and hosted in Birmingham's Active Partnership, Sport Birmingham. He is a member of the Games MH subgroup along with The WMCA, OHID, DCMS and other national partners. Dean enjoys wild swimming and cycling along canals in his spare time.

Naseem Akhtar BEM

Naseem has championed pioneering opportunities in physical activity & sport for ethnically diverse communities, especially Asian women. In 2006, Naseem secured the Saheli Adventure Hub in Balsall Heath, working with over 2,000 women across inner city Birmingham every year to become physically active to address their long-term health conditions. Naseem set up the first ever young Asian girls club providing opportunities to take part in rock climbing, skiing, canoeing, cycling and quad biking. Saheli Hub has a successful model engaging women into running, cycling, swimming working out of three GP practices, wellbeing sites and four parks across the inner city of Birmingham. In June 2019 Naseem received the honour of a BEM as part of the Queen's Birthday honours list.

Councillor Liz Clements

Liz Clements is Cabinet member for transport and has been a Labour councillor in Birmingham since 2017; she previously served as a county councillor in Oxfordshire in the late 1990s. Liz spent her career in public policy roles in charities and in local government. She read Modern Languages at Oxford University, and the years she spent living and working in Germany have been formative of her views about public transport, active travel and air quality in cities. Liz lives near the canal in Bournville and frequently uses the towpath for her cycle commute into Birmingham city centre.

Last Edited: 20 June 2023

photo of a location on the canals
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