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Somerset Rural Youth Project is a registered charity and as such is managed by a board of trustees. The following comprised the board as of September 2014. Members describe their background and interests and what they contribute to the work of SRYP.

David Taylor - Chair of the Board

David has worked for almost forty years in the public sector working with adults and children. He was Director of Children's Services in Somerset for almost 10 years and before then Deputy Director of Social Services.

David now has a consultancy business and is the independent Safeguarding Chair in Devon and also Torbay. He has significant experience of working with the voluntary sector and is a School Governor in Somerset as well as having involvement as a non executive in the private sector.

David hopes to make a contribution and enable the organisation to meet some of the challenges it faces over the next few years as well as widening its offer to children and young people in the county.

Nicola Slawski

formerly of Sedgemoor District Council, now retired, Independent member

I first became involved with SRYP in my role as Head of Community Services (later Group Manager) for Sedgemoor District Council. My remit at Sedgemoor included support for voluntary organisations, community development, crime and disorder reduction and environmental issues.

I initially joined the SRYP Board as a representative of the District Councils in Somerset. In April 2010, I took early retirement in order to spend more time with my elderly parents, but accepted an invitation to remain on the Board as an independent member. I currently chair SRYP's fundraising committee.

My other voluntary sector interests include chairing Somerset Levels and Moors Local Action (part of the Rural Development Programme for England, an European-funded programme) which is due to complete at the end of 2013. I am also a Board Member and the Company Secretary for the Victoria Park Centre in Bridgwater. My leisure interests include walking (could link to item on my sponsored coast to coast in May) and gardening.

Stuart Rance, - Self Employed Businessman, Independent Member

I am a self-employed Project Manager, covering all aspects from the Food Industry and  Engineering through to Feasibility, Relocations and interim management, in the course of this I travel all over the country, which I believe gives me a wide and varied insight to most matters.

I have been involved with the SRYP Board since June 2011, having previously been on the Board of Young Somerset since its inception in 1991 through to its end.  I have always thoroughly enjoyed working both directly and indirectly with young people and I have worked closely with a local school in Taunton for the last 30 years plus having been involved with running and managing their Ten Tors teams over that period.

It is a great leveller to see what young people can achieve given the correct encouragement, but more importantly I find that it is very satisfying to see them go on and put to good use what they have gained and learnt within their development.

My other interests along with walking having trekked in Kenya, India, and Nepal twice, (around Annapurna and to Everest Base Camp) are watching both rugby and cricket, but more importantly seeing my young son grow and develop.

Oliver Woodhams - Strategic Manager for Traded Services, Somerset County Council

I joined the SRYP Board in November 2008 and have loved working with the organisation ever since. I share SRYP’s passion for enabling young people to reach their potential, and our nimble, innovative and flexible approach makes a refreshing change from my day job in a much larger public sector organisation.

I am a qualified accountant with a background in local authority finance and contract management, and bring a range of financial and commercial experience to support SRYP. I am a member of the Finance sub-committee and also a representative of Somerset County Council. In my day job I have responsibility for passenger transport operations, and understand the challenges of providing sustainable and affordable transport solutions in a rural area.

My other interests include walking, travel and cycling around the lanes of Somerset. I live in Taunton with my wife and daughter.

Jacky Barnes - Retired - Independent member

My expertise is in local government finance. I have worked in a number councils in both accountancy and audit. My last role was as deputy treasurer to Somerset County Council.

I believe that SRYP not only benefits the rural youth of Somerset but also has a positive impact on the wider community. When I retired I joined the board, hoping to contribute my experience and expertise towards making that happen. I may not have worked with the young people of Somerset directly but I am the mother of two adult children and now have two grandchildren so I can understand some of the challenges that face them.My interests are music, art, literature and the WI!

Alex Sherman – Deputy Chair of the Board

Business Manager at the South West Heritage Trust, Independent Member

I have worked on joint projects to do with transport, employment and rural skills with SRYP for 12 years or so and also worked at the organisation for just over a year in 2010. I now manage a large scheme in the Avalon Marshes and Glastonbury to do with wildlife and the landscape, training, education and heritage as well as volunteering.

My other interests as well as my job are in sustainable development and ‘upcycling’, local food and drink and lots of different types of music. I often help out with my wife’s jewellery business which takes me to events and festivals in the summer.

I’ve moved all over the south of England and spent as much time in cities as I have in rural areas but settled in Somerset 15 years ago. I am a strong believer in equal rights for all and that everybody should have the chance to reach their potential.

Linda Vijeh - Somerset County Council Representative

I joined the board of SRYP as the Somerset County Council representative in 2013, bringing, I believe, a wealth of experience in the public, charitable and private sectors. I am also a governor of two schools, a long standing District Councillor, and Deputy Mayor of Ilminster Town Council.

As a professional standards consultant for the service industry, I have provided expert advice on both customer service standards, in addition to sales and marketing activity, through my company, Service Matters. As a journalist I write regularly for a number of publications on a range of topics, and operate the only accredited wine school in Somerset, enjoying a 100% rating.

In addition to my wide ranging experience as a Governor of the RD&E NHS FT and Chair of the Member Engagement and Development Group, I am a former Chair of Somerset Schools' Forum, having had considerable experience of working with children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. I am currently a member of SCC Corporate Parent Board, and very involved with the Somerset in Care Council. As a Samaritan, Rotarian and trustee of Chard Museum, my charitable activities are extensive, where as a noted public speaker I have helped to raise awareness, acting as the publicity officer for all three organisations. My motto for life is 'Attitude is Everything.'

Last Updated (Wednesday, 08 April 2015 14:27)

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