Board of Directors

The Visit Northumberland board is representative of the visitor economy of Northumberland and comprise of a maximum of 10 (including observers) with the right balance of sector knowledge, skills and experiences. The board will be responsible for approving the relevant strategy and implementation plans and achievement therein, they will also steer the development of the Destination Management Plan and the relevant action planning groups. They will also set performance targets for the operational team.

Our vision is to develop a destination organisation with an outstanding record of successful delivery which puts the County firmly on the map as a premier visitor destination and proactively leads the tourism business community in Northumberland.

Visit Northumberland holds 6 board meetings per year, which board members are expected to attend, as well as being active in support of the organisation and the profile of the visitor economy board meetings. This would include acting as an ambassador for Northumberland, advising the staff team, and attending action groups connected to board members identified specialisms.

Board meetings are usually held in the afternoon, early evenings and in agreed locations in Northumberland, there is also the option to join virtually

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Andrew Fox (Chair)

General Manager, Slaley Hall

Andrew has over 25 years senior executive roles in internationally branded properties, including corporate city centre, airport, and golf, leisure and spa resorts. His board level and Destination Management experience comes from a range of non-Executive roles.

His expertise covers commercial leadership across profit and loss, sales, marketing and revenue management, capital project management and ROI delivery. He is focused on customer service delivery, people development, and team member engagement leadership.

Andrew’s skills include large event planning and delivery, owner/JV relationships, hotel openings and brand re-positioning, as well as concept creation for Food and Beverage, and Spa. He has led complex businesses, communication strategies, business analysis, trends and market sector statistics. He is particularly focused on product development and service delivery to drive asset value.

Andrew is passionate about Northumberland. He grew up in the county, he lives in Northumberland and spends much of his free time exploring the area.



Stuart-Birkett
Stuart Birkett (Vice-Chair & Finance)

Birkett Consulting Limited

Stuart has extensive board, business planning and risk management experience. He has led large and diverse teams during very difficult times and achieved strong commercial results; and is also highly skilled in change management and HR law.

He has experience in managing accounts, particularly profit and loss, being able to identify where opportunities lie and how to spot problems early on. He has also been involved with a number of data projects in recent years, using the power of data to drive positive change. He is a communication, PR, digital and social media expert.

Stuart is a life-long resident of Northumberland, and a Deputy Lieutenant of the County. He is also an environmentalist, with a degree in Environmental Science.


 

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.

 


 

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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.


 

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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.