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Board of Directors for Groundwork East

Our Board is the governing body for Groundwork East. We are privileged to have a wide variety of talented and experienced Directors providing solid governance for the Trust. The Board supports the Trust's senior management and, in addition, their skills and knowledge provide opportunities to enhance the business.

Neville Reyner CBE DL Hon DLitt
Neville became Chairman in February 2006 and is well known in Hertfordshire, the East of England and nationally through his positions as Chairman of Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the University of Hertfordshire Business School Advisory Board where he is also a visiting Professor, Chairman of the School of Engineering (Electronics, Telecommunications & Technology) Industrial Advisory Group, the former Deputy Chairman of the East of England Regional Development Agency and former Chairman of Anglia Components in Wisbech the largest independent electronics component distributor in the UK. From 2008 –2011 Neville was also the President and Chairman of the British Chambers of Commerce based in London and Vice President of Eurochambre based in Brussels.

A Chartered Electrical Engineer, Neville became the UK Executive Vice President of Mitsubishi Electric Europe responsible for a turnover of £250 million in 1998 where he had earlier taken Mitsubishi Semiconductor from start up to over £150 million in the UK. Prior to this Neville started his working career in the coal mines of North East Lancashire where he worked as a coal face electrician moving on to unit electrical engineer. He then went into the semiconductor industry working for companies such as Analog Devices and Fairchild. He was appointed CBE in the 2001/2002 New Years Honours list for Services to Business, awarded Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Hertfordshire for outstanding achievement in 2002 and appointed Deputy Lieutenant for Hertfordshire in 2003.

Neville holds a strong interest in and commitment to environmental issues and enjoys playing a crucial role in the continuing growth and development of Groundwork East.

John Ball

John Ball joined the Board in June 2004. A law graduate and chartered accountant, he has gained significant financial and management experience in a variety of roles with PricewaterhouseCoopers, London Electricity, Veolia Water and bpha.

He has lived in Hitchin for over 27 years and his interests include walking, cycling, and gardening. He is also a qualified hockey umpire in local leagues. John also volunteers at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, often working with the junior volunteers team.

Michael Hamilton MBE
After six years on the Groundwork Board from May 1995 to March 2001, Michael was asked to rejoin in March 2002. He has been a director of GEM since October 1995. A civil engineer by training, Michael joined the housebuilding division of John Laing in 1983 and since then has run a regional office for Laing Homes, been on secondment to the CBI for nearly two years, and managed the company's community affairs policy. He then managed the John Laing Charitable Trust as Trust Secretary until his retirement in 2013.

John Laing were involved in the setting up of Groundwork. Michael has been a Trustee for several charitable Trusts and has gained a good insight into the governance of Charities and Trusts. He also has a good understanding of the preparation and management of business plans and budgets.

Michael was awarded an MBE in 2010 for Services to the Voluntary Sector and in his spare time he enjoys tending his 'rather large' allotment.

Mike Master
Mike was appointed to the Board in February 2006 having served as a member of Groundwork Hertfordshire’s Advisory Panel for many years.

After a career in the ready-mixed concrete, mineral and waste industries, Mike now runs his own mineral development consultancy. He retired in 2003 as Director and General Manager of RMC Aggregates (Greater London) Ltd - formerly St Albans Sand & Gravel - where he was instrumental in the development of the company's marine aggregates and landfill business. He was also a member of the London Planning Advisory Committee, advising the Secretary of State on marine aggregate planning policy for London. Mike holds a keen interest in the potential of the quarrying industry to foster conservation initiatives. In 2008 Mike became Chairman of the Groundwork East of England Regional Committee and a member of the Groundwork Federation Board and in 2009 became Chairman of the Herts & Middx Wildlife Trust, and also a trustee of the Hertfordshire Community Foundation.

Rebecca Britton

Rebecca joined the board in June 2014. She is also Head of Communications and Partnerships for Urban&Civic. 

With a background in marketing, media handling and stakeholder engagement for the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, Forestry Commission England, and for regional and national Government, Rebecca leads the engagement of local business, partners and communities in the development of Alconbury Weald. She also oversees the development and delivery of Marketing and Communications for Urban&Civic and co-ordinates the delivery of community development and the jobs and skills strategy for the 20 year development. 

Rebecca started working for Urban&Civic in April 2011 as the second appointment to the Alconbury Weald project. The project will transform a former airfield (brownfield) site into a 150 hectare  Enterprise Zone, 5000 homes and 283 hectares (almost 50% of the site) of greenspace, as well as providing significant transport and community infrastructure to support new and existing communities.

The development is the first private sector client-led National Skills Academy for Construction in the country, enabling the scheme to mandate contractors on site to take on apprentices, work placements and local unemployed people. Urban&Civic have committed to working with Groundwork and a range of local partners to develop this approach to the businesses locating to the site. The Enterprise Zone will create up to 8000 jobs, with an estimated 10-12,000 more created by the construction, service and supply chain for the development as a whole.

As part of her role Rebecca is on the Board of the Huntingdonshire Chamber of Commerce and is Vice Chair of an action group for vulnerable children in the local deprived area of Oxmoor. She is also a key member of the Huntingdonshire Skills Group that is looking to deliver a step change in skills and aspirations across the district linked to the 20 year timeline of the Alconbury Weald development.
Barry Chevallier Guild

Barry joined Aspall Suffolk in 1993 taking over the sales role from his father John, becoming only the fourth salesman Aspall customers had seen in the whole of the 20th century. Barry’s background has always been customer and quality focused, having previously worked for BMW in North London. Becoming Chairman in 2011 he is now President of the European Vinegar Federation, a role he has held since 2009. Barry also represents Aspall at the executive of the National Association of Cider Makers. A keen countryside enthusiast Barry also oversees the running of the estate which includes preserving ancient woodland and the broader management of the orchards. In 2013 Barry started the project of archiving, cataloguing and recording all the records held at Aspall including the original accounts from 1728. Barry is a founder member of the Groundwork Suffolk and Norfolk Advisory Panel.

Julie Smith

Julie SmithJulie is Head of Legal Services at Affinity Water and is responsible for managing the team which provides legal advice to support Affinity Water in delivering high quality water to its customers.  

Prior to joining Affinity Water in 2016, Julie was a Principal Solicitor at Canal & River Trust.  Canal & River Trust is the charity established in 2012 to protect and look after over 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales. 

Julie’s time at the Canal & River Trust has given her a working knowledge of charities law. Julie was involved in advising on third party funding agreements and issues relating to volunteering and holding of events as well as on environmental and commercial law issues.

Before the waterways were transferred to Canal & River Trust they were the responsibility of British Waterways, a non-departmental public body, and Julie was employed there as an in-house solicitor for five years, before the transfer to the Trust.  Julie joined British Waterways from the Environmental Law Team at Simmons & Simmons, where she advised a diverse range of clients on a full range of environmental law issues.  She started her career as an Environmental Scientist for Southern Water before re-training as a solicitor.

Outside of work Julie is the Treasurer for the St Albans District of the Woodcraft Folk, a charity focused on developing children and young people’s self-confidence and building their awareness of society around them. 

Cllr Carole Hegley

Cllr Carole HegleyCarole is the Executive Member for Social Care and Housing for Central Bedfordshire Council and Councillor for Dunstable Central ward. She started working for Central Bedfordshire Council in 2009, as Portfolio Holder for Social Care, Health & Housing and Councillor for Dunstable Central Ward.

Before this, Carole worked for 20 years in sales and marketing in various product and service sectors as well as setting up and running her own businesses.

Her goal is to keep smiling and enjoy the challenges of life and business!

Cllr Derrick Ashley

Cllr Derrick Ashley joined the board in 2017.  

First elected as County Councillor in 1985, Derrick has also been Councillor for the Hitchin South division of Hertfordshire since 1997. 

Derrick is Chairman of Hertfordshire County Council’s Environment, Planning & Transport Cabinet Panel.

Phil Bibby

Phil joined the board in 2019. Phil has been in local politics since 2009, after retiring from banking, and is currently the County Councillor for St Nicholas Division in Stevenage, and a Borough Councillor for Woodfield Ward in the same town – he lives in the middle of both areas.

As the Executive Member for Highways and Environment, in Hertfordshire, Phil is responsible for the safety and maintenance of the highways, and new network infrastructure. He also covers the Countryside Management Service, to include Rights of Way. In Stevenage, Phil is currently the Chair of the Housing Management Advisory Board.

Aside from his role as County Councillor and the Groundwork East board, Phil supports two local primary schools, being Chair of Governors in each.

In his spare time, Phil enjoys golf, exercise, travel, theatre, and music; which his wife shares with him, and she is also involved with their local St Nicholas church.