David Hall (Chair)
David holds an Honours Degree in Civil Engineering and a Masters Degree in Leadership & Management.
In his day job, before being appointed to his current role David was Head of Corporate Affairs for Northumbrian Water Group which serves 2.7m customers in the UK where he was responsible for public affairs, marketing, events and leisure. He is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.
In 2012 he was appointed as Head of Leisure, Strategy and Transformation, leading on major transformational projects. He is deeply committed to the role that Tourism plays in the regional economy. David was a key architect of the Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust which steered Kielder to become England's Best Tourism Experience in 2013, the largest Dark Sky Park in Europe and one of only three Gold Tier parks in the world. The park now attracts over 460,000 visitors annual, sustains over 470 jobs and contributes over £18m to the Northumberland Economy.
Stuart Birkett is Managing Director of NCJ Media Ltd, the newspaper group owned by Trinity Mirror with responsibility for The Newcastle Chronicle and The Journal. Stuart was previously Managing Director for Johnston Press in Scotland, where he oversaw 16 daily and weekly newspaper titles across the North East of England and the Scottish Borders. Before this he was Managing Director of Northeast Press and Tweeddale Press, which publish four of Northumberland's weekly newspapers. Stuart is a Deputy Lieutenant of Northumberland and lives in Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Tony Gates is the Chief Executive of Northumberland National Park Authority; a post he has held since November 2005.
Prior to joining the Authority, Tony has held senior positions in protected area management, rural development and urban regeneration. In these positions Tony worked closely with the tourism and environment sectors and has developed a strong track record in rural and sustainable tourism.
A native of Northern Ireland, Tony first graduated in Town and Country Planning from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1989.
Tony currently is lead policy officer for tourism for the 10 English National Parks and is keen to help ensure the potential of England’s national parks to contribute to growth of the rural visitor economy is fully realised.
Tony is married with four children and lives in Hexham.
Graeme obtained a First Class Honours Degree from the University of Kent and a Master of Philosophy in Town and Country Planning from University College London. He started his career in planning at West Sussex County Council, where he participated in the RUCATSE (Runway Capacity to Serve the South East) project.
He joined the Airport in 1993 and since then has overseen the production of Newcastle's first ever Masterplan and its subsequent review, as well as planning for all developments including a major terminal extension, hotel, control tower, fuel farm and filling station. Graeme also instigated an environmental strategy, and over the years has built up strong and varied relationships on behalf of the Airport at a national, regional and local level.
In recent years, Graeme has also taken on the role of media spokesman and drives the airport’s public affairs strategy. He was instrumental in the creation of the Newcastle Aviation Academy, a collaboration with Newcastle College and Kingston University, and is closely involved in work to improve the customer experience.
Graeme is also a member of CBI regional council, the board of NGI and Northumberland Tourism, and takes part in a range of discussions on regional transport issues.
Kari Owers is chief executive of award-winning North East PR agency OPR and the Susan Dobson Award winner at the 2012 North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. She has created and implemented many high profile campaigns such as the launch of the Tyne & Wear Metro Pop Card and Galaxy Radio in the North East in her career. Kari features in the 2012 Power 100 list of the most influential people in the UK marketing sector.
Ben Quigley, Chief Executive at award-winning marketing agency Different, is an on and offline communications expert for clients including the Civil Aviation Authority and L'Oreal. He led the team that developed the highly successful ‘Passionate People, Passionate Places’ North East promotional campaign.
Susan is a Councillor in Northumberland County Council and has held the position for 7 years, undertaking a variety of roles in sectors such as planning, capital works and economic prosperity. Susan is also a member of the Northumberland National Park Authority and has an interest in the Arts & Entertainment industry. Originally Susan qualified as a district nurse and has also recently completed a degree in photography.
Jeff (with his wife Jill) owns and runs St Cuthbert's House, an award-winning accommodation business on the Northumberland coast. He moved to Seahouses with his family after a 20-year career in the uniformed services in the north-east. Jeff is passionate to see businesses work together to strengthen not only the Tourism industry, but also the social and economic wellbeing of our rural and often fragile communities. Having raised his own family in rural Northumberland, he is resolved that Tourism should make a consistently positive impact for those who live and work here, as well as those who visit. He has steered a number of projects to encourage creative and sustainable collaborations. Jeff currently also serves as Chair of the local North Northumberland Tourism Association, and as Business representative on the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership Board.
Nigel Walsh is the Culture, Heritage and Libraries Service Manager at Active Northumberland and has worked in local government for 18 years.
After graduating from the University of Northumbria, Nigel’s roles have included leisure management, facilities development, strategic planning and economic development, regeneration and cultural services management. Nigel’s previous experience also includes project management of the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay through the County and the delivery of several large scale cultural events. He has directed, from inception to completion, the delivery of numerous capital schemes including the development of community parks and sporting facilities, the safeguarding of heritage assets and major public realm improvements.
Nigel is responsible for the leadership, management and development of culture, tourism, heritage and libraries for the County of Northumberland. This involves management of 34 public libraries and 11 visitor information centres, heritage and arts strategy, strategic events, creative industries and tourism strategy and development.
His current projects include the development of a new five year Cultural Strategy for the County, rationalisation of the cultural property portfolio, implementation of a Libraries service development programme and project management of the 2016 North Sea Tall Ships Regatta.
Nigel is a strong advocate of the role of Culture in supporting regeneration and is committed to building resilience in the sector and furthering the role of culture in place shaping.