Board of Directors



Andrew Fox (Chair)

Andrew Fox, a renowned hotelier has been the general manager at Slaley Hall since October 2017 and has been a board member at Northumberland Tourism since January 2018.




Stuart Birkett (Vice-Chair)

Stuart Birkett runs his own management consultancy business specialising in working with media businesses. He was previously Managing Director of NCJ Media and before that of Northeast Press and Tweeddale Press. He was also MD for Scotland for Johnston Press. During his time in the media, Stuart has been responsible for the running of most of the newspapers between Edinburgh and Hartlepool at one time or another.

Stuart is a voluntary member of a number of Boards in the North East as well as being a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland. He lives in Berwick-upon-Tweed with his wife Lesley and has two grown-up children.


Tony Gates

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.



Jeff Watson

Jeff Watson

Jeff Watson is the elected County Councillor for Amble West with Warkworth and is the Cabinet member for Healthy lives (which includes Tourism) as well as Chair of Advance Northumberland.

Before becoming a Councillor, Jeff had a successful business career, home and overseas in Blue Chip, FMCG companies and retired as President of Sara Lee in Canada. He was involved in the Tourist industry subsequent to his retirement and had several holiday cottages before concentrating full time on local Government.




Jeff Headshot crop
Jeff Sutheran

Jeff moved to Northumberland with his wife and family after a 20-year career in the uniformed services in the north-east.  He and his wife subsequently renovated a derelict former Chapel to create St Cuthbert’s House, offering luxurious, very high-quality accommodation.  The business won many accolades at the North-East Tourism Awards across more than a decade, and enjoyed great success at National level too, winning many Gold and Silver accolades in Guest Accommodation and Sustainability categories at VisitEngland's annual ‘Awards for Excellence’ - including, on two occasions, the coveted 'Guest Accommodation of the Year' Award.


The business's approach to Quality and Excellence became a flagship for the region in advising on and developing the offering from small accommodation businesses. Jeff served on the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership Board, Chaired the North Northumberland Tourism Association, contributed as a Speaker at many workshops and conferences, and played a part in steering a number of projects to encourage creative and sustainable collaborations aiming to deliver ‘Excellence’ in hospitality.  He and his wife recently retired from the business, and they are enjoying spending more time with a growing extended family!

Jeff is passionate to see businesses work together to strengthen both the Tourism industry and also the social and economic wellbeing of Northumberland’s rural and often fragile communities.  Having raised his own family in rural Northumberland, he believes passionately that Tourism should make a consistently positive impact for those who live and work here, as well as for those who visit.  Jeff continues to exercise this passion as a member of the Board of Directors of Visit Northumberland Ltd.




Nigel Walsh

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.



Jennie Collingwood

Jennie is a marketing and brand specialist and began her career with Merchant Retail Group before moving on to local government where she was Head of Culture and Tourism at Tynedale Council and later Northumberland County Council. She is currently Head of Marketing, Brand and External Communications at Northumbrian Water Group where she is responsible for customer and stakeholder communication and engagement. Her campaign work holds awards from the Chartered Institute of Marketing for best national campaign and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations for best corporate social responsibility campaign. Jennie studied English Literature at Teesside University, Enterprise Management at Durham University and most recently Leadership and Performance Coaching at Northumbria University.


Jennie is an experienced Non-Executive Director, holding positions at NewcastleGateshead Initiative and The Bowes Museum – she is a passionate advocate for Northumberland and the north east; supporting tourism, culture and the arts and driving positive change which improves the local economy and delivers lasting social legacy.