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.

Ruth Cuthbert, Finance and Operations Lead

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.

Charlotte Jones, Volunteering Development Lead

Charlotte manages the Spark volunteering service, Spark a Change. She has over 30 years’ experience of innovating to support more resilient communities in both paid and voluntary roles in Somerset. Charlotte believes in learning from first-hand experience and helping people to help themselves, and that mutual support and innovation work best when locally grown. Before joining Spark, Charlotte worked for a Somerset based local authority supporting community-led innovation and investment to thrive and sustain, and more recently focused on organisational change, employee learning and agile working. She has a Master’s degree in Public Management and a Diploma in Pre-School Practice, both of which (she says) helped her understand that systems should work for people (and not the other way around) and the importance of life-long play and learning. Her belief that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ led to her helping to design, fund and build a new village hall and playing field, so that she could benefit from a local parent and toddler group. Charlotte enjoys getting an annual free pass to Glastonbury Festival (in exchange for some hard-graft volunteering), writing for fun, cycling on the flat, gardening for wellbeing and cooking for crowds.

Chloe Skinner, Spark a Change Manager

Chloe oversees the management and development our volunteering platform, Spark a Change. Along with a degree in Business Studies, Chloe has several years’ experience in the VCSE Sector, including working for a large national heritage charity and a non-profit art events organisation. She is passionate about supporting volunteers and organisations to fulfil their potential.

Joan Evans, Volunteering Project Coordinator, Open Mental Health

Joan was born in Liverpool and has lived in Somerset since the 1990s. She has worked in a diverse range of roles within Health and Social Care, and has experience of developing and coordinating community and volunteering projects in Somerset and Dorset. Joan’s role here at Spark is to recruit and support volunteers to get involved in the Open Mental Health Service. She enjoys being outdoors, loves walking, attempts gardening and now has a shed with room for DIY projects and messing about with paint!

Cath Holloway, Carers Support Development Worker

Cath’s career began in teaching, where she spent 23 years working both in mainstream and SEND schools and gained an understanding of what it’s like to be a carer of children and young adults with additional needs. Prior to joining Spark Somerset, she worked with Community Council for Somerset (CCS) as a Village Agent, Community Agent, and most recently a Carers Agent, providing emotional and practical support for unpaid carers and supporting local carers groups. In her role as Carers Support Development Worker at Spark Somerset, Cath will continue to work closely with CCS and the Somerset Carers Service, helping ensure that unpaid carers are able to access relevant support, both online and within the community. Cath will also provide support and training to volunteers running carers groups across Somerset. Cath has volunteered herself with various equestrian charities including the Riding for the Disabled Association and enjoys being a member of her local WI.

Sharon Hale, Voluntary Sector Development Lead

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, Community Development and Advice Manager

Jenny has a background in sports development, and has worked for local authorities and National governing bodies of sports for the last 14 years. 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 small children, and in her spare time she volunteers with the Somerset Maternity Voices Partnership, representing the Taunton and West Somerset area and working with the NHS Trusts and other organisations to improve the maternity experience for women and their families.

Amelia Norton, Community Development and Engagement Adviser (South Somerset)

After studying History at Bath Spa University, Amelia began her career in not for profit sports clubs, building relationships with local and international businesses through sponsorships and events. In addition to her Adviser role, Amelia works closely with our Funding Manager, providing funding support to groups and charities. Amelia is a keen runner and can often be found at a Park Run on a Saturday morning.

Sarah Cummins, Community Engagement Project Manager (Open Mental Health)

Sarah leads the ‘Under-served communities Project’ within Open Mental Health, building community networks to help raise awareness of local mental health services. Sarah has lived in Somerset since graduating with a Politics degree from the University of Sussex in the late '90s. She has worked in the voluntary sector for 20 years in a variety of fundraising roles with both large and small organisations across the South West of England. Sarah is also a trustee of the Friends of Mendip School PTA, and enjoys gardening and walking her dog.

 

Hayley Pope, Community Engagement Worker (Open Mental Health)

Hayley has been supporting groups and volunteers and creating partnerships for many years. She previously worked with Alzheimer's Society, developing dementia friendly communities in North Somerset, and as a fundraiser for Somerset children’s charity, Bibic. She has a degree in English from the University of London and enjoys writing short stories.

Gill Harrison, Community Engagement Worker (Open Mental Health)

Gill was born in Lancashire and gained a degree in Education at Lancaster University. She worked in London for many years before relocationg to Somerset in 2020. Gill has previously worked in Special Educational Needs and management roles in schools, and more recently as a co-facilitator delivering wellbeing courses. She founded and now leads the Christmas Sparkle project, a community-led initiative which delivers Christmas gifts to over 1000 local children each year. In her spare time, she enjoys walking with her dog and spending time with family and friends.

Leonie Cole, DBS Development Manager

Before joining Spark Somerset, Leonie worked as a Safeguarding Lead in education settings. In her current role as DBS Development Manager, she oversees the delivery of our Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Checking Service. Leonie prides herself on providing a friendly, efficient service to our customers and enjoys supporting VCSE groups with their wider Safeguarding needs. In her spare time, Leonie is a Trustee for a regional charity and is passionate about supporting people to get involved in their communities through volunteering.

Samantha Briggs, Digital Inclusion Project Manager

Samantha joined us as a Spark iT Digital Champion Volunteer in 2021. Since then, she became our Digital Inclusion Project Manager and now leads our work to tackle digital poverty in Somerset. Samantha has a background in the education sector, having worked for universities across the UK and Australia. Before joining Spark Somerset, she was a Project Manager at the University of Queensland, where she managed the delivery of open access, online programmes and courses. Samantha lives in West Somerset and enjoys volunteering, travelling, and live music.

Penny Schofield, Project Manager

Penny lives in South Somerset and has worked in the District for over 20 years. She started her working life in South London, initially developing and finding funding for a wide range of community projects and then managing specialised skills training projects for marginalised learners. Penny moved to Somerset to help set up two large projects providing housing and innovative skills development opportunities for homeless young people. She has experience of complex budget management, project evaluation and impact reporting, fundraising, partnership working and the recruitment, training and development of teams. Penny has an MA, a Diploma in Management and a PGCE.

Alice Yeoman, Projects Assistant

After Alice completed her degree in Geography and Environmental Management at UWE in Bristol in 2016, she volunteered teaching English abroad in a Balinese fishing village. Upon her return, she gained her PGCE, going on to teach Geography in a rural Somerset secondary school. Whilst teaching, Alice continued her interest in volunteering and ran the Duke of Edinburgh Programme. Alice plays a key role in supporting a range of projects across the organisation. In her spare time, Alice enjoys agility dog training and yoga.

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.

Lorraine Patch, Funding Manager

Lorraine is an experienced fundraiser who has worked with local, national and international organisations. She studied English at university and enjoys writing about community projects and the difference they make. Lorraine grew up in Somerset and before moving into fundraising, was employed as a support worker across the county. In her spare time, she volunteers for a mental health helpline and enjoys being outside whenever she has the opportunity.

Kerry Wills, Executive Assistant

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.

Sara Iles, VCSE Partnership Manager

Sara facilitates the Somerset Mental Health Hub, 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.

Helen Fielden, Health Champions and Mental Health Hub Coordinator

Helen works on developing all things volunteering so that local organisations can really benefit from the potential of their communities. She tests and evaluates different ways of working with volunteers. Her particular interests are supported volunteering and getting more young people involved in their local community. She has a passion for building networks, empowering people and training. Using her degree in Psychology and Social Studies, Helen has worked in both the voluntary and public sector. Her career has included training young people as mystery shoppers to assess sexual health services, coordinating an HIV and AIDS awareness programme in South Africa and freelance training. Along the way she has achieved Prince 2 Project Management, a Level 6 Certificate in Management and Leadership, and a Certificate in Further Education Teaching. Having volunteered since she was a child, Helen is an active member of her community, and is currently involved in a women’s cycling group, Samba band, and various other local charities.

Sue Crisfield, Social Prescribing Coordinator

Since qualifying as a Youth and Community Worker in 1985, Sue has worked in a wide range of roles, mainly with young people, plus a few years in adult social care in Glastonbury. She has worked with young offenders, supported church-based youth work, young carers, young adult carers and adult carers, young people who are not in education, training or employment, homelessness & housing, LGBTQ+, and more recently in advice and guidance and support for young adults. She is particularly committed to ensuring that people of all ages can equally and confidently access support and information needed to bring growth and independence. In her role as Social Prescribing Coordinator for the Rural Practice Primary Care Network, Sue is working to strengthen the existing groups offering health and wellbeing support, identifying gaps in provision, and helping to develop new groups and activities. A keen volunteer, Sue is a Trustee and Secretary of the Mendip wide charity, Youth With A Future and drives for the Prickles Hedgehog Rescue Centre in Cheddar. She also sings with her local community choir and believes singing to be the best therapy anyone can get!

Ann Diment, Creativity and Wellbeing Coordinator, Thriving Communities Somerset

Supported by the Thriving Communities Fund, Anne is working with local voluntary sector organisations to expand and develop the range of creative and nature-based health and wellbeing activities on offer in Somerset. Since graduating with an MSc in the Biology of Water Resource Management 26 years ago, she has held multiple consultancy roles in the voluntary, academic and private sectors and was previously employed as a Health Connector in the NHS. Ann has experience of supporting mental health and equality through her work with the Trade Union and other representative roles with various mental health charities, which involved developing peer-support, improving workplace wellbeing, and working with anti-stigma campaign groups. When she is not creating change in her work roles, Ann enjoys playing washboard in a band, practicing yoga, and developing her creative and meditation practice.

Emma McFarlane, Wellbeing Development Officer

Emma has recently moved into the charity sector after having spent the last 10 years working for local heritage organisations including museums, historic houses and an archive. She loves partnership working and interacting with people. Emma is part of the Take Part Project, working to reduce social isolation and improve wellbeing in South Somerset. Outside of work, Emma is an active member of her church and volunteers in PR and fundraising. She also enjoys dancing, cooking, walking and socialising with friends and family.