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.
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.
Hannah Snowdon, VCSE/Public Sector Partnerships & Engagement Coordinator
As VCSE-Public Sector Partnerships and Engagement Coordinator, Hannah is working closely with voluntary sector, NHS and Local Authority partners to create opportunities for networking and collaboration. This involves creating a framework for engagement which will enable partnership working across the county. 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!
Laura Bazley, Volunteering Support Officer
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 3 years ago 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.
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.
Karen Leafe, Community Development and Engagement Adviser (Mendip)
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!
Anne Shilton, Community Development and Engagement Adviser (Sedgemoor, Somerset West and Taunton)
Anne has over 20 years' experience of working with national, regional and local charities which has given her a wide knowledge of the VCSE sector. She has also worked in the NHS, as a social prescribing link worker and later supporting the Covid-19 vaccination clinics. Anne moved back to Somerset in 2021 to be closer to her parents after the pandemic. As a Community Development and Engagement Advisor, she will be putting her knowledge to good use, supporting groups in Sedgemoor, Somerset West and Taunton. When not at work, Anne enjoys playing her flute in Taunton Concert Band and other smaller groups and getting re-acquainted with the locale.
Laura Gowers, Community Development and Engagement Adviser (South Somerset)
Before joining Spark Somerset, Laura spent seven years working in Local Government and is currently a clerk with her local Parish Council. Prior to this, she worked with a learning and development charity supporting people, communities and other charitable organisations. When not working, Laura spends her time renovating an old house and looking after her horses, dogs and chickens!
Helen Fielden, Community Development Project Manager (Open Mental Health)
Helen has worked for Spark Somerset for several years on a range of projects aimed at promoting volunteering and improving community wellbeing, and most recently as Coordinator for the Somerset Mental Health Network. Prior to that, her career spanned both the voluntary and public sector, including 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. In her spare time Helen enjoys Pilates, playing in a samba band and cycling and is a Trustee with Purple Elephant.
Hayley Scurr, 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)
Before joining the Underserved Communities team, Gill worked as a Community Development Worker in Taunton, establishing a forum and support system for local VCSE and statutory groups. Before this, Gill worked in Special Educational Needs and management roles in schools, and most recently as a co-facilitator, delivering courses to improve people’s wellbeing. Gill founded and now leads the Christmas Sparkle project, a community-led initiative which delivers Christmas gifts to over 1000 local children each year. She is also a member of the board at her local Community Centre.
Joan Evans, Community Engagement Worker (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!
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.
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, 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 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.
Cindy Furse, VCSE Dementia Alliance Coordinator
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.
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!
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 emloyee in the Communications team, she will be helping to deliver Spark Somerset's key messages, manage the Wellbeing Sedgemoor Directory, and promoting our events programme. 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.
Will Rowe, Funding Officer
Will works with organisations to help them secure funding by helping to match groups with appropriate grants and reviewing bids. He also helps organisations diversify their income to enable them to become more sustainable. Outside of work, Will enjoys playing and watching sports, from cricket and badminton to Formula 1. He also enjoys travelling, visiting new places and experiencing new cultures.
Emily Rushton, Digital Inclusion Project Assistant and DBS Officer
Emily helps triage the Spark iT referals, 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. She also offers DBS support, ensuring that charities and organisations are able to practise safe recruitment. Out of work, Emily enjoys bee-keeping, crafting, driving classic cars, and spending time with her husband and their rescue cat, Barnato.
Melissa Lewis, Digital Inclusion Area Coordinator
Melissa works on the Spark iT project, making sure that those in Somerset who are digitally excluded have everything they need in order to get online. In her free time, Melissa enjoys reading, playing D&D, pub quizzes and hiking. She's also an avid Strongman fan and will often go and watch competitions.
Tori Gray, Operations Administrator
Tori offers administrative support across the organisation in HR, Events, Projects, VCFSE, Facilities and Operations. She works with all team members to ensure that day-to-day operations run smoothly, all aspects of the charity are fit for purpose, and that our working practices are in line with current policies, procedures and regulations. When not at work, Tori enjoys beach days with her children, movie nights, and spending time with friends and family.
Andy Ralston, CRM & Digital Executive
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 fulfulling 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.