Our Board of Trustees

Our Board of Trustees is responsible for the overall control and strategic direction of  VAST. They meet regularly to discuss, decide and review our strategies and policies and receive reports and updates from senior managers.

Our Board of Trustees

Neil Dawson

Neil Dawson - Our Board of TrusteesNeil has been a trustee of VAST since 1998, and has been the Chair since 2006. A committed socialist, believing in the usefulness of real partnership working, having worked in the private, voluntary, co-operative and state sectors, and was a foster carer for nearly 20 years. He is governor at two schools and a director of The City Learning Trust. He is also a Trustee of the Burslem School of Art, Bradeley Community Centre and Ford Green Hall Museum. Neil has also served as a City Councillor for 11 years. Enjoys most sports, walking, reading and has a keen interest in science. Neil is very passionate about Port Vale Football Club.

Mark Barnish

Mark Barnish - Our Board of TrusteesMark is a Chartered Accountant. Until April 2009 he was a partner in the top seven accounting firm, Baker Tilly, having formerly been a Partner with KPMG. He has been the Honorary Treasurer of VAST since 1990. Mark has active community involvement including being a Council Member of the North Staffs Chamber of Commerce up until April 2009. He was a founder trustee of the Staffordshire Community Foundation and is a trustee of The Dudson Centre and a member of the University of Keele Audit Committee. Mark is currently the Head of Finance and Corporate Services for the care charity, Saint John of God Hospitaller Services, which provides holistic health, social care and specialist support to many of the most vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalised people throughout the UK.

John Beech

John Beech - Our Board of TrusteesJohn has been a trustee of VAST since 1992. An active member of the Stoke community, John is passionate about the CSO and has served as an elected Council member in the past. John is Chair of both STAND (Stoke-on-Trent Advisory Network for Disabilities) and also the Basford and Cliffe Vale Residents Association. Previously, John has served as the Chair of the North Staffs Race Equality Council, stepping down after completing a three year term.

Tim Edwards

Tim Edwards - Our Board of Trustees

Tim is a member of the PM Training’s executive team, part of the Aspire Group, with responsibility for business development, quality and performance,. Tim also has responsibility for Realise the group charity and leads the Group approach to environmental sustainability and regeneration.

Tim is chair of Staffordshire Providers Association, whose members are independent training providers and colleges, who work together to improve the services provided for learners across the County.

Tim has been with Aspire for nine years and undertaken a range of roles across the Group. Prior to this he gained a wide range of experience across the private and public sectors, in a range of strategic and management roles. Born in Stoke-on-Trent, Tim has a strong commitment to the local area and its wider regeneration.

Peter Twilley

Peter Twilley - Our Board of TrusteesPeter has worked for over 25 years in a range of posts in youth work, community work, training and development, adult learning and regeneration. He has worked in Gloucestershire, Wolverhampton and Stoke-on-Trent as well as spending a number of years self-employed. An active member of his local community, Peter volunteers at a community cafe, supervises a full-time volunteer for a community organisation. In addition to VAST, he is on the committee of the local allotment society and volunteers at a local church community centre.

Currently, Peter is employed by Staffordshire University as a Senior Lecturer in Youth, Community and Regeneration and also has a role as a partnership manager. He has worked for the University for the past three years and is based in the Creative Communities Unit. Married and having two grown up children, Peter enjoys walking, cycling, gardening, growing vegetables and generally being outdoors.

David Holton

David Holton - Our Board of TrusteesMarried, with two grown up children, David was appointed as a Trustee in 2012.  He has been employed as an NHS senior manager in Stoke-on-Trent for the last 26 years.  His roles have included Deputy Finance Director for North Staffordshire Health Authority and, latterly, Trust Board Secretary for Stoke-on-Trent Primary Care Trust.  A public sector accountant by profession, David’s interests include enjoying the countryside, reading and supporting Stoke City Football Club.

Susan Meredith

Susan Meredith - Our Board of Trustees

Susan has in excess of 20 years experience in NHS Management.  Having commenced her career in Women & Children’s Services in an acute hospital in North Wales, she relocated to England whilst gaining further skills and experience across the NHS.  Susan ultimately settled in Staffordshire, working initially as Business Manager for Forensic Mental Health Services and later talking forward the role of Service Director for Learning Disability Services across Shropshire and Staffordshire.

Key achievements included leading on modernisation and service redesign in Learning Disability Services in Shropshire, South Staffordshire and North Staffordshire, in partnership with health, social services and independent sector providers;  development of West Midlands Region Forensic Mental Health Services, including the opening of a Forensic Mental Health ICU and a low secure Forensic Learning Disability Service in South Staffordshire.

Proud to adopt Stafford as her home town, Susan graduated from Staffordshire University with her MBA in 2008, retired from the NHS in 2014 and is now a Trustee for VAST.

Dawn Wickham

Dawn Wickham - Our Board of TrusteesDawn has worked in the NHS for nearly 30 years in a range of commissioning, development, planning and strategy, corporate and primary care  posts, over half of this time working at Director level. Throughout her career she has had close ties with the voluntary sector, initially through community development and regeneration projects in Sandwell and latterly through commissioning voluntary sector services in Stoke on Trent and is an advocate for partnership working with the CVS. She is currently Service Director for Staffordshire working for the NHS Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit. Dawn has a particular interest in mental health, having a child on the autistic spectrum. Outside work Dawn enjoys baking, reading, sewing, gardening and family time.

Lesley Morrey

Lesley - Our Board of TrusteesAssistant Principal of Student Engagement and Partnerships at Newcastle under Lyme College. Lesley is responsible for student experience at the College including Student Services and High Needs Provision. Lesley also is the Safeguarding and Prevent Lead and strategic lead for Equality & Diversity.  Lesley was appointed in July 2015 following her previous role as Director of Curriculum at Stoke on Trent College. Lesley has over 14 years management experience in the FE and training and development sector and before this was managing registered nursing homes across the County. Outside of work Lesley enjoys the theatre, walking and spending time with her family.