John Hamilton OBE

John Hamilton OBE

Strategy, fundraising, service improvement, business planning.  

John is one of the longest-serving Community Ventures partners, having offered support via the programme since 2003. He has a wide range of experience across the public, private and voluntary sectors, and through Community Ventures can bring this to bear by supporting organisations with strategy, business planning, fundraising and more.

John is a director of Lamplas (Durham) Ltd, a Polymer Engineering company based in Derwentside.   In addition to his many other business interests he is also Secretary and Manager of the RW Mann Trust, a North East-based grant-making charity. He has served as a director of the Community Foundation (Tyne& Wear and Northumberland), and is currently Vice- President of the County Durham Community Foundation.

John was a founder Director of County Durham Training & Enterprise Council and served as Vice Chair and Chair until September 2002 when TECs ceased to exist. He represented the North East Region on TEC National Council and for two years was a member of the North East Regional Assembly.

He has had a wide experience of both large and small businesses and following the closure of the Consett Steelworks in 1980 he became involved in the industrial regeneration of Derwentside as a senior executive with the Derwentside Industrial Development Agency.

A season ticket holder at Newcastle United for 50 years, he is a dedicated long-distance walker and traveller, particularly enjoying remote areas.


Ailsa Hobson

Ailsa Hobson, Sintons LLP

Legal issues, HR, IT, marketing and communications.

Ailsa is a solicitor in the Company Commercial department at Sintons, specialising in Employment. Ailsa undertakes a wide range of employment work for both public sector and private sector clients advising business and charities under Assero, Sintons’ Employment Protection Package.

Ailsa started out her legal career predominately acting for claimants in employment tribunal on various types of claims including discrimination, whistleblowing, and breach of contract. She now advises employers on procedural compliance and Human Resources issues, employment related disputes and litigation.

Sintons is a full service law firm based in North East England serving clients throughout the UK and further afield. Established in 1896, Sintons is one of the largest law firms in the region with 250 employees including 33 partners and more than 120 lawyers.

As well as legal expertise, Community Ventures beneficiaries can draw on support from Ailsa’s colleagues in areas such as HR, IT, marketing and communications.


Dr John Bridge

Dr John Bridge

Governance and finance

John is interested in supporting charities with governance and finance issues and can bring extensive and senior strategic experience to this role, having been CEO of the Northern Development Company and, later, chair of One North East.

John has spent most of his professional life in the North East working in the public, private and voluntary sectors. After an early spell in the academic sector as a lecturer in economics at Durham University, he moved on to a number of senior appointments in the regeneration and economic development fields where he acquired an understanding of the crucial role played by voluntary organisations in the regional economy. He has also had a number of non-executive roles with private companies in the region and currently chairs two companies providing construction and facilities management services in the North East.

John has long since played an important role in the cultural, spiritual and charitable life of the North East, having been involved with Durham Cathedral Council, the National Trust, Alnwick Garden Trust, the Calvert Trust and the Spirit of Enterprise Loan Fund.


Bruce Reed
Bruce Reed

Bruce Reed

Strategy, policy, funding

Bruce has spent almost 30 years advising on economic development, international research, innovation and funding – working for universities, companies, research institutes, and government departments in eight countries.

His previous work includes an evaluation of national (European) anti-poverty programmes, and the development of the EU’s social policies – including the Social Action Programme and the Poverty Programme.

He advised NCVO on the operation of national and regional (EU-supported) programmes that funded voluntary and community organisations in the UK, and the use of criteria (prioritisation) systems for the development of the VCS. In 2004-6 he researched the vulnerability of the N.E. voluntary sector to changes in EU and national funding programme – for the Community Foundation and others.

In Community Ventures, Bruce can help organisations align their work with developments in local, regional and national policy and strategy, improve their fundraising capacity and business planning ability.  He sees his role as helping organisations to access resources that will enable them to work with the most vulnerable people in our society, and to support interesting community development projects

A native Tynesider, Bruce is a former Visiting Professor in Newcastle University’s Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies, and a proud father and grandfather.

Football (supporting the Toon), chess, and singing are the things he most enjoys with friends.


Pamela Denham
Pamela Denham

Pamela Denham

Coaching and mentoring

A founder member of Community Ventures, Pamela is a native Geordie who left for London in 1961 to read physics at King’s College London. She liked it so much that she stayed an extra 3 years to do a PhD then was tempted into the Ministry of Technology. Thirty years and many interesting jobs later she took early retirement having come back to the North East in 1990 first as DTI’s regional director, then as the first regional director of the Government Office for the North East.

She then became a portfolio person and in addition to undertaking management consultancy projects and training as an executive coach, her activities have included Chair AGE UK Newcastle, Chair PNE, an independent enterprise agency (1998-2009), non-executive director of Newcastle Primary Care Trust/NHS North of Tyne (2001 –2012), Governor of Sunderland University (1999-2007) and Board member of the Community Foundation (2000-2006).

She enjoys walking, reading, travel but not housework and gardening. Regretfully gave up her Newcastle United season ticket but is still a Northern Sinfonia regular. Her retirement project of learning Mandarin is on hold!

Through Community Ventures, Pamela offers support to senior leaders in the sector with one to one coaching and mentoring, helping them ‘step back’ from the day job and look at challenges and issues from a different perspective.


Dr Laura Warwick

Dr Laura Warwick

Service design and organisational culture

Laura is an expert in service design, working predominantly with charities and voluntary organisations to help them use design to improve their service offers and transform their organisational culture.

Laura uses service design principles to ‘challenge and change’ third sector organisations, helping them look at things from a different angle, often that of the ultimate service user. In the past she has worked with Seven Stories, Mind (Tyneside and nationally) and Age UK Newcastle, and by ‘giving them permission to think differently’ has helped them secure significant funding from Arts Council, the Big Lottery and elsewhere.

She is an associate lecturer at Northumbria University and has recently been awarded a PhD in ‘the value of a design for service approach to develop public services in the Voluntary Community Sector’.

Laura is originally from Chester-le-Street and now lives in Newcastle, although she has a season ticket at the Stadium of Light! She also enjoys running and cups of Yorkshire Tea.


Joel Marks

Joel Marks

Financial management 

Joel originates from Cape Town, and has lived in Corbridge, Northumberland, since 2011. Having graduated with an economics degree from the University of Manchester, Joel qualified as a Chartered Accountant with BDO Binder Hamlyn and is an Associate of the Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) Society of the UK.

He joined Insight Investment in 1994 as a UK equity analyst and pension fund manager. He was the lead analyst for a number of industry sectors, including utilities, real estate, construction, leisure, food retailing and IT hardware. Joel also managed the pension funds of a number of organisations, including a FTSE 100 company and a Government Reserve fund.

Joel moved to Edinburgh to join Scottish Widows, as an equity fund manager and investment analyst. He was responsible for managing a £17bn equity portfolio, as well as a £250m Environmental and £60m Ethical fund. He was also the lead sector analyst for the oil and gas, utilities, capital goods, healthcare and support services sectors.

Since moving to the North East Joel has set up a number of businesses in the financial services sector. He has brought in local teams who were looking to move to a more entrepreneurial environment.

Through Community Ventures, Joel can help organisations rethink the way they approach financial management and reporting, in order to ensure that robust systems are in place to ensure that risks and problems are identified.

In his spare time, Joel enjoys (when the bowling is not hostile!) playing cricket for Corbridge and Riding Mill in the West Tyne league.


Anthony Woods-Waters

Anthony Woods-Waters

Social Enterprise, strategy, policy, funding

Anthony is the Chief Executive of Building Futures East, a registered charity and social enterprise delivering community regeneration programmes across the sub-region from its base on Walker Riverside in the East End of Newcastle.

Graduating with a degree in Fine Art from Newcastle Polytechnic he initially taught adults with special needs before returning to The University of Northumbria to undertake a PGCE.  Anthony worked for 16 years in public service with Newcastle City Council as a Senior Strategic and Operational Manager delivering services to Children and Young People and then in Regeneration Programme Management responsible for Single Regeneration Budget and Neighbourhood Renewal Programmes across East Newcastle. During this time he also graduated from the University of Northumbria as a Master of Science in Strategy and Resource Management. In the latter period of his work with Newcastle City Council as a Regeneration Manager he established Building Futures East, leaving to take up the role as its’ Chief Executive at the point it opened in 2006.

He was formerly a trustee of both the East End Community Development Alliance and St. Anthony of Padua Community Association.

He is currently both a Foundation Governor of St. Mary’s Catholic School in Newcastle (from 2002) and a Trustee of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) in Manchester (from 2009). CLES is the UK’s leading independent charitable research and member organisation, with a focus on economic development, regeneration and place-making.

In 2006 BFE were awarded the first ever CLES Commendation for Best Practice in Regeneration. In 2008 Anthony was awarded the title ‘Voluntary Sector Entrepreneur of the Year by Ward Hadaway Law Firm and Tyne and Wear and Northumberland Community Foundation. He was also recognised in 2008 with the award of a ‘Walker Oscar’ for services to the people of Walker, which is Newcastle’s most disadvantaged ward, receiving a further ‘Oscar’ award in 2013.

Anthony is also a former beneficiary and alumnus of Community Ventures.


Darren Mayne

Organisational strategy, project and change management, commercial activity, coaching and mentoring

As a ‘local lad’ Darren graduated with a degree in Agri-Business Management from Newcastle University, and went on to gain a Diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Over the last twenty years he has worked in various commercial roles (Marketing Manager, Head of Sales etc.) in the food and drink Fast Moving Consumer Goods sector, and more recently at a vertically integrated Retailer as Head of Category.

Whilst working at Greggs, Darren was selected to be part of its Strategic Leaders Course at the University of Northumbria Business School.

Darren is currently volunteering with SSAFA as a mentor (working with Wounded, Injured and Sick veterans), Daybreak Centres to open a commercial enterprise, and the Newcastle Falcons Community Foundation to launch Falcons Forces.

Through Community Ventures Darren can help charities review their strategy and direction, including any commercial opportunities that may arise. To successfully deliver the business plan will require change and he can help with that process, whilst supporting and mentoring senior members of the team.

In his free time Darren is a season ticket holder at the Falcons, an enthusiastic (but amateurish) photographer and enjoys cooking meals for his family and friends.


Bernadette Knox

Marketing, communications and public relations / coaching and mentoring.  

For over thirty years Bernadette was a strategic planner at an advertising agency (J Walter Thompson) and is now retired, splitting her time between Tyneside and London.  

She has joined Community Ventures in order to share some of her skills (around marketing, branding and communications, but also as a coach / mentor) with the North East charitable sector.

In her spare time she is an avid Newcastle United supporter.


Holly Shiel-Redfern

Market research, organisational strategy, business planning, commercial activity, income diversification, marketing, communications and public relations

Holly is currently Commercial Director at Explain Market Research, having previously worked as Operations Manager for George F. White LLP. She currently works with a team of market researchers to provide clients with ‘actionable insights’ that deliver commercial value and has strong track record in creating and delivering revenue streams for the businesses she has worked for.

In 2015 Holly won the ‘Leadership Award’ at the North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year awards. She has a law degree from Northumbria University.  



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