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The charity making life better by water

The Council

The Council is made up of up to 50 members and includes a mix of elected and independently nominated individuals together with the six Regional Advisory Board chairs, who are ex officio members.

Council members are the legal company members of the Canal & River Trust. They have responsibilities granted them by the Articles. Council members reflect the wide appeal of the waterways - from boating and angling through to walking and conservation. The Council is chaired by the chair of the Trust Board, David Orr CBE.

The Council is responsible for the appointment of trustees. It debates important points of principle to provide guidance and perspective from different stakeholders, suggesting issues of concern for the Trustees to pursue, and acts as a sounding board for the Trustees in relation to the development of proposals and strategy.

Council members

Council members will serve for a period of four years. To contact nominated representatives or for general council enquiries, please email [email protected] and your enquiry will be passed on.

Elected representatives:

Boating business

Lucy Waldron

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Canal & River Trust needs experienced people who can engage at political, heritage, engineering and community levels on the council.

Practical solutions are urgently required to maintain the canals to ensure their user's needs are met. With major issues around funding and maintenance, solutions-driven analysis and advice are paramount to ensuring the ongoing viability of the waterways system nationwide. I can offer long experience in canal heritage and maintenance as well as with Govt and funding committees.

Currently, there is concern amongst the boating community that Canal & River Trust are not promoting solutions - and the Council needs to ameliorate this apprehension by demonstrating a focus on funding and maintaining navigation.

I have excellent connections across canal-related businesses and organisations. Involved in environmental R&D, which can benefit waterways and their immediate environment. I have been working with government and NGOs for decades and am well-versed in such interactions. Currently involved with canal-related museum projects and other heritage groups. I would like to make a difference to ensure a successful future for all waterways users.

Paul Donnelly

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Paul is a boating business owner and a passionate advocate for the canals. He started his business in 2016 and has since grown to offer a range of services, including hire fleet, dry dock, chandlery and moorings.

Paul loves the waterways and the opportunities they provide for leisure, recreation & wellbeing. Small businesses are the lifeblood of the waterways. They provide essential services to boaters and attract new people to enjoy the canals through various activities. Without the hard work and dedication of small businesses up and down the network, the canals wouldn’t be the vibrant and attractive places that we all cherish.

Paul stood for election to the Council of Canal River Trust because he wants to represent the interests of small businesses and their customers. In these challenging times, it is more important than ever to have a strong voice for the boating community and to ensure that the Trust supports and values its business partners. Paul has experience working with the Trust and is committed to promoting cooperation and collaboration for the benefit of waterways users.

Private boating

Penelope Barber

Head shot of a woman wearing furry jacket in light blue

A narrowboat owner since 1989, much navigating of BCN & anywhere within four weeks’ travel. Favourite waterway – Caldon, favourite lock flight - Bosley. So far! K&A & Huddersfield on “to-do” list. On NABO founding council, served on RBOA committee, administered Parliamentary Waterways Group 2001-2005.

Stepped away from boat politics to focus on career, which continued to include representation, advocacy, lobbying and negotiation. Trained as accountant and auditor, moving to general management. Solid knowledge of an exceptional range of sectors and activities, including charities’ governance. Many years volunteering at all levels, including 2 terms of office as a University Member of Council. Passionate about retaining and maintaining our industrial and social heritage as living and lively navigations, ensuring boating is an affordable aspiration and people and assets are deployed effectively.

Fiona Burt

Woman smiling at camera wearing blue jumper

Since moving aboard our own narrowboat as continuous-cruisers, waterways chaplain and roving trader in 2021, I've become aware of a subtle decline in the services offered to boaters and the maintenance of the waterways. When Canal & River Trust was founded in 2012, the government made it clear that the charity was expected to 'increase its income from other sources', and the recently announced reduction in the DEFRA grant reflects this. Whilst mounting a robust campaign to restore government funding,

I believe that Canal & River Trust also needs to make plans to address the issue in the way that most businesses have had to; namely by cutting costs, increasing efficiency and capitalising on its substantial property and land portfolio

Rosie Strickland

Headshot of Rosie Strickland

Rosie is a live-aboard boater, in the seventh year afloat and an active National Bargee Travellers Association community member. Rosie lives on board a 63-foot narrowboat built in 1977 and has been lovingly restoring. Rose is passionate about architecture and engineering, and the waterways are a never-ending source of inspiration.

Originally from the Welsh borders,, now lives in London. Rosie runs a small design and fabrication studio, working in the arts and architecture. A carpenter and welder, knowledgeable about structural design, engineering and mechanics. Sees the challenges faced as a community as an opportunity for design-led solutions (lighting, mooring rings, waste facilities) as a constructive way to respond to the community's needs.. Worked for ten years in the media, managing press and communications for environmental charities.. Campaigned at an international NGO level for Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, where I designed policy campaigns to protect nature. I would be absolutely committed to advocating for the needs of the liveaboard boating community as an active, dedicated Canal & River Trust council member

Scott Martin

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A dedicated boater, committed to transforming the Canal & River Trust with a focus on rational license fees, equitable mooring, and robust canal maintenance. In three years, my own license fees have soared by 25%. A concerning trend and a worry echoed by many boaters alike. I advocate for a CRT that prioritises internal financial efficiency over easy fee hikes.

We need transparent and accountable funding management, ensuring every fee contributes meaningfully to our waterways. Equitable Mooring Policies: Our waterways, a collective treasure, demand fair mooring practices. I plan to address antisocial and unauthorized moorings, ensuring spaces are available for rule-abiding boaters.

My goal is a balanced mooring system that accommodates both continuous cruisers and those seeking extended or permanent spots, with a focus on fairness and access for all. Enhanced Canal Maintenance: The charm and functionality of our canals rely on consistent, quality upkeep. Recognising our volunteers’ laudable efforts, I propose reallocating budgets, placing a higher priority on professional, navigation specific maintenance, such as restoration, dredging, and vegetation management, enhancing safety and enjoyment for everyone.


Nigel Branston

Headshot of Nigel Branston

A volunteer lockkeeper on the lower River Trent for 8 seasons and Lead Volunteer, and train new volunteer lock-keepers. Last winter led a small team of lead volunteers in the creation of a new Lock-Keeper’s Handbook for the non-tidal locks on the Trent. Also, a consultant/advisor to the 2023 Operations and Maintenance Review, using expertise gained from eight years as a senior operational analyst working for NATO.

As an enthusiastic volunteer and a believer in the aims of the Trust, Nigel is keen to see the Trust doing well in the future and believes he can contribute to improvements in its structure, management, systems, and procedures, and in so doing help it to move forward, taking staff, volunteers, customers/users and the general public with it.

Trevor Clark

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As a volunteer, Trevor joined the Council to work towards ensuring that volunteers are seen as equal partners within the organisation. To include greater representation in Policy Making and Operational Planning; an effective training and development programme; an appropriate operational volunteer budget; effective management and leadership and the Trust developing effective strategies for community partnerships and local fundraising.

Trevor has been volunteering for 8 years on the Western end of the Kennet & Avon Canal, including working in a very sensitive World Heritage site. Trevor became a Lead volunteer and CAATS Assessor Fundraiser, with some of his achievements being recruiting and managing 29 volunteers and delivering 5500 voluntary hours annually; completing refurbishment of locks & bridges; repairing cobbled towpath; rebuilding Toll House; continuing PPM 12 locks; litter and graffiti removal; developing community relationships with the local authority and charities to provide a greater understanding of the Canal & River Trust and creating successful various grant applications raising £51,500, enabling volunteers to fund ongoing safety and skills training, Health & Safety kit and tools.

Previously I worked in tourism, marketing and the public sector culminating as an International Qualifications consultant and has a master’s degree in business administration.


Aaron Atwal

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Aaron says he is privileged to be able to represent and work for the Canal & River Trust and is proud to work for an organisation, who not only manages, maintains, and improves a national treasure such as the canal network, they are our wonderful green, blue spaces.

Aaron sees himself as an ambassador of the Trust, and all it stands for. He has formed some great working relationships through his years working within the trust, not only collaborating with wonderful colleagues, who go beyond with all they do but with our very own teams of unique volunteers.

Aaron is an inspirational leader, who will serve the Canal & River Trust council with passion, dedication and always wholeheartedly, putting the trust values at the forefront of what we do. Aaron will continue to work with passion, and lead by example, to ensure the vision and mission statements are met and will help deliver the most important message, Life is better by water!

Fisheries & Angling

David Kent

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David has been an angler for over 60 years. He champions the value of angling as a sport and recreation, its value across the social spectrum especially in terms of people's wellbeing, the opportunities it provides for young people, the contribution it can make to the stewardship and promotion of the waterways for all and in generating revenue for the local economy and the Trust. David believes the ongoing improvement and development of our canal fisheries is absolutely key to all of this.

He spent 32 years in the water industry with the Trent River Authority, Severn Trent Water Authority and finally with Severn Trent Water Ltd as a manager, Financial/Business Systems. Taking early retirement in 1998 he then became manager of the East Midlands Business and Environment Club whose role was to promote environmental awareness and discipline in businesses.

David has been an administrator at local, regional and national level for more than 50 years. In November 2018 he stepped down after three terms as a director of Angling Trust. He is a life member of AT and in 2019 was made a lifetime vice president. He remains chair of AT's National Freshwater Committee and its Trent Regional Forum. He is also an AT consultant on Competitions. He was a member of the former BW Advisory Forum and Fisheries & Angling Committee. David chaired the Trust's National Angling Advisory Group from 2012 until 2017. He remains a member of that group.

Elected: Friends

Brian Williams

Man posing for photo in a suit

Brian trained as an accountant but changed career in his twenties to become a chartered civil engineer and subsequently had his own construction business specialising in roads and bridges. He has had a lifelong interest in the canal system and especially its construction marvels such as the Anderton lift and the Pontcysyllte aqueduct. Brian has had many holidays on narrow boats and was one of the earliest supporters of the Trust, still treasuring the delightful calendar given to those who joined in the first year.

Brian is a Shropshire County Councillor and Chair of its Audit Committee (which specifically deals with governance and risk) and has the Ellesmere boatyard in my division which he strongly supported in its development as a public asset. Brian is also a trustee of the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust. As a Council Member, Brian wishes to use his knowledge of central and local government sources of financial support on the trust's behalf and utilise his engineering and financial background to add value to considerations of how the organisation might make the best use of the resources which are going to become more restricted as public financing of the Trust diminishes.

Co-opted members

Black Swimming Association: Danielle Obe, Chair

Woman posing for camera

Danielle Obe, accomplished Business Change & Integration Management Consultant, is 1 of 4 Co-founders and the Chair of the Black Swimming Association (the BSA). Under Danielle's leadership, the BSA has gone from a simple concept to a nationally recognised fledgling organisation positioned as a disruptive force within the aquatic sector.

The BSA is on course, tackling inherent systemic and institutional inequalities, breaking barriers to participation and driving change for more ethnic diversity in aquatics; ensuring everyone has equal and equitable access, feels included and has a SAFE and quality experience in and around water. Danielle is also an entrepreneur, mother of three avid swimmers and inventor of the Nemes, a simple yet revolutionary and versatile aquatic aid designed to solve a significant barrier to aquatics

Friends: Robyn MacPherson

Woman posing for camera

I am passionate about the successful governance and activity of the Canal & River Trust. I have been proud to call myself a Friend of the Trust for one year and I am continuously looking into other ways that I can support its activity. When I saw this election, I felt that this was the perfect opportunity for me to give more to the Trust, bringing my expertise as a previous charity Trustee (University of Birmingham Guild of Students) and passion for sustainability and the environment.

My career background is in Higher Education, with my current role as the Project Manager of the Birmingham Plastics Network focussing on influencing UK Policy on sustainable plastics and plastics pollution, as well as finding ways to create impact from our research. I walk to work along the Worcester and Birmingham Canal every day and believe in keeping canal like this alive and in-use for the benefit of human health and wellbeing and for other wildlife and I'm passionate about supporting the Trust in their mission to achieve this.

Nomintated members: Private boating

Paddle UK: Ben Seal

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Ben is the Head of Access and Environment at Paddle UK (previously British Canoeing) and leads the Clear Access, Clear Waters Campaign. Ben leads on political engagement and policy. Ben's team are responsible for environmental education, volunteer action as well as publishing trails and information on places to paddle.

As a passionate advocate for adventurous activities and father of 2 young sons, Ben has coached and led groups in the outdoors for over 15 years. Ben has been a Trustee of a number of small charities and spent 2 terms on the West Midlands CRT Partnership when it was first formed.

Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs: Andrew Phasey

Andrew Phasey

Following retirement from military service in 2005, Andrew was a boat safety scheme examiner for nine years. He is currently a royal yachting association instructor and a trainer and assessor for the IWA Certificate of Boat Management.

Andrew and his wife Frances have been narrow boat owners and enthusiastic cruisers for over 20 years, and have organised many convoy cruises on London's waterways.

Andrew's representative service has included the Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs (Technical Officer), chair of the RYA Inland Navigation Panel, the Boat Safety Scheme Technical and Management Committees, and chair of the Management Committee of St Pancras Cruising Club. Andrew is a member of the Trust's Joint Council & Trustees Appointments Committee.

British Marine: Brian Clark

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Brian returned to British Marine in February 2019 after working for the National Caravan Council as their Head of Government Relations and Policy. Before that, Brian spent 13 years at British Marine, first joining in 2005 as Environment Executive before progressing to Head of External Relations.

Before joining British Marine, Brian worked for the Environment Agency as an Environment Management Officer where he was responsible for dealing with pollution control incidents and environment management inspections of businesses in the Thames Valley.

Brian is now responsible for the development and delivery of thought leadership and strategic policy direction for the Association and implementing substantive change through key stakeholder management at the highest level for British Marine and the UK leisure marine industry as a whole. He is also responsible for developing the research that British Marine produces to support the marine industry.

Royal Yachting Association: Mel Hide

Woman smiling at camera with sailing boats in the background

Mel is the Director of External Affairs at the RYA and heads up the External Affairs team, ensuring that Government takes full account of our activities when balancing competing interests.

Previously, as RNLI Head of Communications Mel was responsible for raising awareness of the charity’s lifesaving work.

David Watts Director of Outdoor Learning | UK Youth

Man in suit smiling at camera

Responsible for overall leadership and strategy of Outdoor Learning at UK Youth, and for the direct leadership and development of Avon Tyrrell, UK Youth’s Outdoor Centre in the New Forest National Park, David has over 20 years’ experience of working in Outdoor Learning and the youth sector. David is instrumental in the centre becoming a leader in the delivery of Outdoor Learning for young people and has a strong belief on the importance outdoor learning experiences have in developing young people’s life experiences and supporting their personal development.

As a keen outdoors person, he enjoys the challenge of wandering up mountains on his own and spends as much time as possible in the winter in Scandinavia on his cross-country skis. In his earlier days he was a volunteer supporting the maintenance and restoration of the kennet and avon canal and recognises the importance of the work the canals and rivers trust does and the value for young people. David also has significant experience of leading Charity Operations and sits on several external professional groups.

Nominated Members: Disability

Accessible Waterways Association: Tracey Clarke

Severely vision-impaired boater, Tracey, smiles as she opens a lock gate with her support dog, a black Labrador

Tracey, aka “The Blind Boater”, is a liveaboard continuous cruiser with her Guide Dog Loki, and hubby Tim with his Hearing Assistance Dog Ozzie. They are licensed roving traders.

Hailing from Sussex, where she married Tim, she has always been very active in community work, including serving as a Parish councillor for many years. Since moving afloat in 2014, Tracey has discovered that life is “Better by Water”. More recently, she has been working with the Trust including creating ‘IWAF - Inland Waterways Accessibility Forum' on Facebook, and regular online Disabled Boaters’ meetings.

As the Founder of the Accessible Waterways Association, Tracey's primary aim is to work with the Trust to make the waterways as safe and suitable as possible (given constraints of heritage) for those who are less able.

Nominated Members: Historic Environment

Inland Waterways Association: Sue O’Hare

Woman smiling to camera

Sue’s career was in new technology and innovation, working with a variety of organisations from corporates to public sector and start-up companies. In parallel she held voluntary roles including chairing a professional association and serving on the board of a science and technology outreach organisation. She is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Educators.

Sue is a long-time boater. She started by hiring on the inland waterways, had a share in a boat for 13 years, and became a boat owner just before the COVID-19 pandemic. Sue has served on IWA’s Navigation Committee since 2016 and was appointed Chair in 2022. She was first appointed as an IWA Trustee in 2020 and has been a Deputy National Chair since 2021.

Institute Of Historic Building Conservation: Dr Nigel Crow

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Dr Nigel Crowe holds qualifications in historic conservation and architectural history and has worked in the heritage field for over 30 years. After working for English Heritage in the 1980s, he joined British Waterways as its first heritage officer and became head of heritage both for BW and then the Trust. He is still involved with waterways heritage and is supporting the securing of England's first nationwide Listed Building Consent Order, which he pioneered for the Trust.

He is the author of the 'English Heritage Book of Canals', has published numerous articles relating to heritage management and conservation and is a member of the IHBC's Editorial Board. He has scripted and presented several waterway heritage films on YouTube including one about War on the Waterways.

Railway Canal Historical Society, Patrick Moss

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Bio to follow

Nominated Members: Natural Environment

Chartered Institution For Water And Environmental Management: Paul Shaffer

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Paul is an experienced and effective director and facilitator championing good practice within the water and environmental management sectors. He is a Chartered Water and Environmental Manager (C.WEM) and a Fellow of CIWEM.

Paul engages with practitioners, policy and decision makers at all levels to integrate sustainable water and land management, Nature-based Solutions and flood resilience into our new developments and existing communities.

He is a passionate connector and collaborator with proven business development skills focused on fundraising, developing and sharing impactful good practice that delivers great places and spaces for those that live, work and play there.

The Wildlife Trusts: Ali Morse

ali morse

Ali has worked in a variety of water-related roles throughout her 15+ year career in nature conservation. As water policy manager at The Wildlife Trusts she supports action to protect, restore and manage freshwater and wetland habitats. She is chair of Blueprint for Water, a coalition of environmental NGOs that speak with a common voice on water policy issues.

Having studied Environmental Sciences at the University of Southampton, Ali has Hampshire's delightful chalk rivers on her doorstep, and considers waterways to be hugely important for both biodiversity and people. She is keen to help the Canal & River Trust identify opportunities to further enhance the water quality, biodiversity and engagement opportunities across this fantastic national resource.

Nominated Members: Local Government

Local Government Association: Cllr Paul Dennett (City of Salford Mayor)

Man posing for camera

Paul Dennett is the representative from the Local Government Association and was elected to the post of City Mayor in Salford in the 2021 Mayoral election. The City Mayor, Paul Dennett has appointed a Cabinet of two deputy mayors and five lead members for portfolio areas.

These are responsible for the following portfolio areas Housing, Property and Regeneration, Adult Services, Health and Wellbeing,, Children’s and Young People's Services, Finance and Support Services, Inclusive Economy, Anti-Poverty and Equalities, Environment, Neighbourhoods and Community Safety and Planning and Sustainable Development.

Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE): Graham McDonald

Graeme McDonald SOLACE Photo

Graeme McDonald is managing director of Solace and Solace in Business and is responsible for the overall strategic direction and management of the organisation.

Prior to joining Solace, Graeme had spent over fifteen years working in local government. He has worked for London Borough, Metropolitan and District councils; his final role was as the director of policy and performance at the London Borough of Ealing. He also has experience in roles within social care, housing and environmental services, as well as a range of corporate and change management roles.

Graeme focuses on leadership development; influencing policy across central government and ensuring the very best of the sector is shared and built upon. He is particularly keen to develop the sector's long term leadership capabilities and has developed a number of programmes aimed at firmly embedding high quality professional leadership in local public services.

National Academy For Social Prescribing: Gráinne Nolan

Woman smiling to camera

Gráinne Nolan is Deputy Director of Innovation and Partnerships at the National Academy for Social Prescribing. She is the strategy lead and oversees their work to develop innovative approaches to social prescribing through the natural environment, heritage, physical activity and the arts as well as developing effective approaches for older people.

Gráinne has been a passionate advocate for improving health and wellbeing throughout her career and has a particular interest in the imact of the water environment on physical and mental health.

Prior to joining NASP, Gráinne worked in the environment sector for sixteen years, much of which was spent developing sustainable development, public health and social equity policy at the Environment Agency. She also spent five years in the NHS working in public health and commissioning roles. She has an MSc in Health Psychology from the University of Sussex.

Nominated Members: Youth

UK Youth: David Watts

Picture and bio to follow.

Nominated members, other supporters:

Tim West, nominated by Commercial Boat Operators Association

Man posing for photo in a suit on a sunny day

Tim is a director and Company Secretary of Wynns Group of companies. Wynns Group comprises of Wynns Ltd, the UK's leading provider of independent advice on the movement of abnormal indivisible loads and Robert Wynn & Sons Ltd who own and operate a fleet of specialist heavy lift barges for the movement of the largest and heaviest abnormal indivisible loads, operating in and around the UK and Europe.

He is currently vice chairman of both the Heavy Transport Association and the Commercial Boat Operators Association, and an active member of the Freight Transport Association's Waterborne Freight & Strategic Freight Councils and the UK Chamber of Shipping Short Sea Panel. He's an active member of the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce having been president of the Stafford Chamber of Commerce and a Staffordshire Chambers Board member for over a decade.

Heather Clatworthy, nominated by Ramblers Association

Heather Clatworthy

Heather is Paths Manager (GB) for Britains leading walking charity - The Ramblers. Along with managing the core Paths team of staff at headquarters and the extensive network of Volunteers, she is responsible for the HQ operational and strategic delivery of Ramblers Path Protection, Improvement and Maintenance and the popular Don't Lose Your Way Campaign. Heather offers 17 years of experience working in the charitable, environmental and voluntary sectors and is an active philanthropist supporting charities and individuals who are keen to help make a positive difference to peoples lives. She has worked in Rights of Way and public access for over 15 years and has led many large scale projects requiring collaboration with varied stakeholders to deliver public access for people to enable access to the great outdoors.

Heather has represented The British Horse Society on the Canal & River Trust user forum for almost 15 years. Heather also works extensively with GIS to map public access and uses it to measure impact, prioritise core work and to locate and display problematic areas and to view and analyse case work on a national basis.

Mark Riches, nominated by Country Land & Business Association

Mark Riches, CLA - photo

Mark is the director for the Midlands Region of the CLA and leads the CLA Midlands team.

A graduate of Harper Adams and the University of Birmingham, he is a fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and previously worked in rural estate management and property and business assets management and development. He is also a fellow of the Agricultural Law Association and was voted onto the Association's Governing Council in 2017.

Mark has been involved with historic narrowboats and the canal network his whole life and both he and his wider family have significant involvement with the inland waterways.

Cycling UK: Duncan Dollimore

Man smiling at camera

Duncan is Head of Campaigns at Cycling UK, the UK’s national cycling charity which has been campaigning to enable more people to cycle for 145 years. Getting more politicians to understand the health, wellbeing and environmental benefits of more people cycling is central to Cycling UK’s campaigning and lobbying work.

Duncan leads on the charity’s work to mobilise the public to show their support for policies which encourage and enable people to access the outdoors, and to realise the benefits of active travel. Part of that involves reframing the conversation from the cost of infrastructure to the return on investment, the cross-cutting benefits, and the cost of doing nothing.

Regional Advisory Board Chairs (ex officio)

Man in suit posing for camera

Steve is the former chief executive of the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), a position he held for 14 years until the end of 2018. As chief executive of the WLGA, he developed strong connections across Welsh Government and brings an unrivalled understanding of Welsh Local Government, together with knowledge of the wide range of programmes and policies which will influence and impact the Trust's work in Wales.

Steve has also held a number of voluntary roles which align with the work of the Trust in Wales, including chairing the Prince's Trust for Wales for five years.

Man smiling at camera

John is Chair of the SW RAB and a volunteer lockkeeper on the K & A. with extensive knowledge of the network as a boater. He has 40 years’ experience in the charitable sector as chair and trustee of a number of charitable bodies including 10 years as a trustee of grant-giving body, The Pilgrim Trust. John has worked extensively with community groups during his career as a prison governor. He is an author, broadcaster and University Professor.

Anil Majithia, Chair East Midlands Regional Advisory Board (2)

Anil is experienced chair, non-executive director and trustee with significant board level experience. He currently holds portfolio of board positions, including being non-executive director at George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, chair of GEH Charity, vice chair of The Air Ambulance Service, non-executive director at LLEP, as well as vice chair at North Warwickshire & South Leicestershire College.

He also brings with him more than 30 years leadership experience at senior levels within commercial environments accountable for delivering major technology and business change transformations for international clients in numerous different industry sectors (utilities, banking, insurance, consumer goods, transport and public sector).

Sir Peter Dixon

Sir Peter is a sailor, motor boater, canoeist, paddle boarder, runner, walker and bird watcher and brings a wide range of skills and experience at executive and board level. He has a background in the housing, health and charitable sectors and is Chair of Optivo Housing Group and Flint Housing Ltd. He is also President of the English Rural Housing Association and is a Trustee at the National Parks Foundation. His previous roles include Chair of Diabetes UK, Chair of the Broads Authority planning committee and Chair of University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He was knighted in 2009 for services to housing. Involved in the battle to save City Road Basin in Islington from development in the 1970s, he continues to volunteer as a waterways ranger as well as teaching sailing to children as an RYA instructor.

Man in suit posing for camera

Dharma is Dean of UCLan Burnley Campus and Academic Director of Apprenticeships University of Central Lancashire and 30 years of experience working in Higher Education, holding various roles in the University. He was previously Dean of the Business School from 2008-2014. Before that, he was Head of Undergraduate Programmes, eventually becoming Associate Dean (International), gaining substantial experience in building international partnerships. He continues as an academic adviser to the Sino-British Applied Industry Relevant program in China. He is also a Visiting Professor at Beijing College of Finance and Commerce in recognition of the work he has done to promote pedagogy for work-based learning.

John Hudson OBE Chair West Midlands Regional Advisory Board

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.

Helen Grantham

Helen is a lawyer by profession and has worked for many years on the Executive of large, listed companies and complex organisations across a range of industries and during times of significant organisational change. She has many years of board level experience as well as of multi-stakeholder environments. She is currently Group Secretary and General Counsel at the Co-op Group with responsibilities covering legal, governance, risk, audit and public affairs and campaigns.

She is passionate about ensuring everyone can meet their full potential and ensuring diverse and inclusive environments. She also has a keen interest in education and learning and is a Council member at University of Leeds, where she was an undergraduate. She is also part of the Leeds Law School mentoring programme.

She is a keen walker (often accompanied by her dog, Walter) as well as having an interest in our heritage and countryside. She has a strong connection to Yorkshire and the North East having been born, educated and living in the region for much of her life.

Tom Deards

Man in jumper posing for photo on a canal towpath on a sunny day with green trees surrounding

The work of the Council is supported by Tom Deards, Legal & Governance Director

Last Edited: 16 May 2024

photo of a location on the canals
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