Our Team

Our team has a wealth of experience of working in the voluntary sector and are committed to promoting strong and sustainable communities.

Katherine Nolan, Chief Executive

Katherine has worked in the charity sector for many years, specialising in fundraising, communications and development. After studying psychology at University, she had a brief stint working in a bank in Piccadilly Circus before deciding that the charity sector was where she wanted to be. She has worked for a range of causes including learning disability and social care, before becoming Head of Communications for a national education charity. Over the years, she has also held various volunteering roles, including trustee of three charities and Chair of her local Pre-School.

Nina Hurst-Jones, Head of Operations

Nina oversees the operational activities of the organisation, alongside strategic planning, creating and implementing effective and efficient policies and procedures together with innovative solutions. She strives to ensure all Bright Sparks are aware of operational best practises so we can all be the best that we can be for our partners and stakeholders. Outside of work, Nina enjoys getting out in the Somerset countryside - walks, beach days, bike rides and swimming - and, of course, the hunt for a great cream tea or pub lunch to finish the day!

Ruth Cuthbert, Head of Finance

Ruth is an accountant and business manager and has held senior finance roles in the voluntary and commercial sectors, most recently as Director of Business and Finance at the YMCA Dulverton Group. She now plays a pivotal role in our Senior Management Team, overseeing day-to-day operations, finance and governance. When not working on an Excel spreadsheet, Ruth can be found enjoying a walk or exercise class at the gym or looking for treasures in a local auction room.

Anne Lambert, Finance Officer

Anne manages our day-to-day finances, working closely with our Finance and Operations Lead. Anne was born in Kenya and has lived most of her life in South Africa and Zimbabwe. In 2000, she decided to leave due to political turmoil in the country and came to the UK to start a new life in Somerset. She has a bookkeeping and administrative background and has previously worked within the agricultural and commercial fields of finance. She is also a qualified pharmacy technician. Anne enjoys life with her three beautiful Show Cocker Spaniels, and loves photography, reading, walking and keeping busy in her garden.

Andy Ralston, CRM & Digital Executive

As part of the Operational team, Andy manages and maintains the digital elements of the organisation. He also works with the Spark a Change team on their website, and helps create digital content for our social media platforms. Andy is passionate about the arts, and when not at work, he enjoys visiting galleries and museums across the country - and creating artwork himself using acrylic paints or digital software.

Olly Clabburn, Research and Engagement Manager

Olly was born in Taunton and is very proud of his Somerset roots. He has a degree in psychology, a PhD in Health, and is extremely passionate about social & community research. Having previously led on our ‘Reflect, Recover, Renew’ project a couple of years ago, he joins us now to work in partnership with Somerset Public Health on a project looking at how we can support the development of a research culture within the Somerset VCFSE sector. When he’s not at his desk, you’ll likely find Olly walking his dog Barney, tinkering with his classic Mini Traveller, surfing in North Devon or, for one magical weekend of the year, roaming Glastonbury Festival!

Sharon Hale, Head of Voluntary Sector Development

Sharon has lived and worked in the Mendip area since graduating with a degree in Community Development in 2000. She has helped a diverse range of groups to establish themselves and gain funding for a range of projects and activities, roller discos, to play parks, befriending schemes and community radio. More recently, she has played a more strategic role in the Mendip area, ensuring that the voluntary sector is championed and supported. Sharon is involved in local independent politics, runs a book club, and loves live music and roller skating!

Jenny Hannis, Development Manger

Jenny has a background in sports development, and worked for local authorities and National governing bodies of sports for 14 years prior to joining Spark Somerset in 2020. During this time, she has gained extensive experience of supporting voluntary sector sports groups to develop and become more sustainable, and has worked with a diverse range of communities. Jenny is a mum of two young children, and in her spare time she volunteers as Chair of Governors at her children's primary school.

Karen Leafe, Development Manager

Karen’s passion for working with communities began in her late teens when, in search of her true vocation, she decided to volunteer. She went on to gain a professional qualification in youth work and this eventually led to a career developing youth and community services across the Mendip area, including supporting village communities to run their own youth clubs, developing skate park facilities with young people, and improving access to support and services. More recently, she has been working within the VCSE sector, supporting collaboration with the NHS and other partners to establish wellbeing and early help mental health services in Somerset schools. Karen’s other passions include being outdoors, walking her Collie and travelling in her campervan whenever she can! 

Leonie Cole, Development Manager

Leonie prides herself on providing a friendly, efficient service to our customers and enjoys supporting VCFSE groups with their wider needs, with a focus on Safeguarding. As well as working for Spark Somerset, Leonie has a Safeguarding Manager role within a school which ensures her knowledge of wider Safeguarding issues is current and up to date.

Penny Schofield, Development Manager

Penny has worked in the VCFSE sector for many years, over 25 of which have been in Somerset. She has worked for a number of charities as a fundraiser, a trainer, and as a general manager responsible for large staff teams and budgets. Penny has extensive experience of community project development and delivery, and over the past year has been working with a number of Task and Finish groups, exploring how to build the resilience and sustainability of the sector going forward. When not at work, Penny enjoys cooking, reading, live music and walks by the sea.

Laura Bazley, Development Coordinator

Laura helps develop, maintain and promote our volunteering platform, Spark a Change, so that even more people in Somerset can get involved in their community. She has several years’ experience of working in the voluntary and community sector across the UK and Canada.  She grew up in Northamptonshire before moving to Somerset in 2020 and has fallen in love with all our wonderful county has to offer! Laura is an active volunteer with the Quantock AONB and enjoys getting involved with their various community events. In her spare time, Laura is a keen photographer, plant lover and likes to take long walks in the countryside and by the coast.  

Cindy Furse, VCFSE/Public Sector Partnerships Lead

Cindy is working alongside VCSE partners to enable a more joined up, sustainable approach to dementia provision in Somerset. She has 30 years of experience working in communities through her roles with a Somerset-based Participatory Theatre Group, Actiontrack Performance Company, and most recently as a Community Champion working alongside VCSE and Statutory organisations. Cindy has delivered large-scale Christmas events, worked with Health and Social Care partners as a Community Representative and is a member of Axminster Dementia Alliance.

Sara Iles, VCFSE Partnerships Manager

Sara facilitates the Somerset Mental Health Network, a network of VCSE organisations working together to improve mental wellbeing in our communities. Sara has a background in community development and project management, having spent the last five years working as a Community Outreach Worker and Media Support Officer with faith groups across England and Wales. Before this, she worked with Citizens Advice South Somerset and ViSTA, a learning and development charity. In her spare time, Sara enjoys walking, reading, cooking, swimming and visiting art galleries.

Lindsey Brown, Communications and Marketing Lead

Lindsey is responsible for shaping and delivering Spark Somerset’s communications strategy and ensuring that our marketing activity is planned and coordinated. She has a strong background in communications and PR, having held senior marketing positions with a diverse range of organisatons including a national toy manufacturer and regional caterer. More recently, Lindsey has volunteered for Bristol-based mental health charity, Womankind, where she provided specialist support to develop and implement their marketing activity. Lindsey is happiest when spending time outdoors with her family or at home making natural skincare products. She’s passionate about the environment, is a keen swimmer and practises yoga as often as possible.

Kerry Wills, Communications Officer

Since studying Media and Culture at Solent University, Kerry has worked in admin for several years, first with a local publishing company, then within the head office of a national retailer. She joined the team in 2015, and now looks after day-to-day office management, and helps our Communications Lead to look after the website, social media and newsletters, helping to promote our projects, events and services, and sharing news from Spark and our VCSE friends.

Bryony Mounter, Events and Marketing Administrator

Bryony joined our team in November 2022 but it's not the first time she's worked with us. Our paths first crossed in 2017 when she was a Graphic Design student at Yeovil College and her class was asked to create a social media campaign for Volunteers' Week. Shortly after the assignment, Bryony volunteered her time and skills once again to design an infographic to help show our impact. Now a full-time employee in the Communications team, she helps to deliver Spark Somerset's key messages, provide administrative support for our events and helps promote them. Born and raised in Somerset, Bryony understands the issues faced by people living in the county and is happy and proud to be part of an organisation that is dedicated to seeing that there is support available for anyone that needs it.

Emily Rushton, Digital Inclusion Project Assistant

Emily helps triage the Spark iT referrals, putting clients in touch with Digital Champions for 1:1 help, organising device loans, and writing social prescriptions to our network of Spark iT Digital Cafés. Out of work, Emily enjoys bee-keeping, crafting, driving classic cars, and spending time with her husband and their rescue cat, Barnato.

Katie Mooney, Community Connector Coordinator

Katie started here at Spark Somerset in the summer of 2023, following her return to Somerset after living in Bristol for 14 years. She has worked in the Healthcare sector for the past 15 years, and has a background in Adult Nursing, working with members of the public in Acute medicine, Gynaecology, and Neurorehabilitation. She also has additional experience working as a Case Manager in the community for people with long-term health conditions who require 24-hour, live-in care in their own homes, with a special focusing in supporting individuals and their families to live their most fulfilling lives. Katie enjoys spending time with her young family, playing in parks and walking in woods, as well as listening to live music, cooking and gardening.

Tash Scully, Somerset Youth Work Alliance Director

Tash is a JNC qualified youth worker with 15 years’ experience with not-for-profit organisations and successfully delivering Local Authority tendered contracts in early help and youth work across Surrey and South London. She moved to the South West in 2017 to work for the local authority in youth work, early help and education leadership. She is passionate and organised with a strong relational approach. Tash is happiest at the beach, loves the sea, sunshine and enjoying the beautiful countryside with her lassie dog called Doofus. On a rainy day she enjoys DIY and upcycling bargains she finds locally.

Hannah Snowdon, Youth Work Development Lead, Somerset Youth Work Alliance

Hannah supports existing members of the Somerset Youth Work Alliance with training and development, as well as working with smaller youth work providers in the county to help amplify their voice. In her teens, Hannah was inspired by her local youth worker to get involved in volunteering, and she went on to gain a Youth and Community Work degree and JNC qualification. Since then, she has worked as a youth worker, teaching assistant and most recently, provided infrastructure support, training and networking opportunities to youth clubs. With two young children, she spends her free time in parks, being read to, or on play dates! Hannah is a keen baker, enjoys papercutting and has recently discovered geocaching!

Val Keeble, Open Mental Health Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator

Val works alongside our Open Mental Health Champions and DIVERSITY VOICE to increase engagement with the wider VCFSE sector and support mental health organisations to make their services more accessible. In her free time she enjoys crafting, sketching and painting.