Our Leaders

The amazing individuals who make our work possible.

Our Founders

  • Sir John Beckwith

Motivated by a passionate belief that all young people benefit from taking part in sport, Sir John created the Youth Sport Trust. He was awarded a knighthood in 2002 for services to youth sport.

  • Duncan Goodhew MBE

Duncan is Vice President of the Youth Sport Trust and co-founded the organisation. He won a gold medal for 100m breaststroke and bronze medal for the 4x100m medley relay in the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games.

Our Honorary Life Ambassador

  • Baroness Sue Campbell DBE

Sue has been involved with the Youth Sport Trust since the charity's inception, first as Chief Executive, and then as Chair. She was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2012 Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Awards and was the Chair of UK Sport until 2013.

Our Patrons

  • Lord Sebastian Coe

Lord Coe won four Olympic medals and set eight world records in middle-distance running. In 2004 he was named head of London’s bid for the 2012 Olympics. After the successful bid, he became the chair of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games.

  • Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson is Britain’s greatest Paralympic athlete and is recognised as one of the most gifted and courageous sportswomen of her generation. She has won 11 gold medals in five Paralympic Games.

  • Steve Cram MBE

Steve Cram is recognised as one of the finest athletes of his generation. He is a World, Olympic, European and Commonwealth medallist as well as 3-time World Record holder during his athletic career. He was recognised for his achievements by winning the 1983 BBC Sports Personality of the year and receiving his MBE in 1986.

Our Board

  • Neil Davidson CBE - Chair

Neil is an experienced chairman and CEO with over 20 years’ experience on boards. He became chair of the Youth Sport Trust in January 2018. He is also currently President of Loughborough Town Cricket Club, a trustee at the United Learning academy chain, an associate governor at Ashmount Special Needs School and a member of the Lord’s Taverners charity.

  • Dame Katherine Grainger DBE

Katherine is the first British woman to win medals at five successive Olympic Games, including a gold medal at London 2012. Katherine is now the Chair of UK Sport. She joined the YST Board in 2018. She works with various charities and sporting bodies and this, alongside her lengthy sporting career, was recognised when she was made a Dame for services to sport and charity in 2017.

  • David Gilbey

David has 20 years of experience as a business and digital leader, entrepreneur and adviser. He is also the founder of Wood for Trees Digital, a network of expert digital operators who have helped to run some of the world’s leading digital companies including Google, YouTube and AOL. David is also a qualified cricket and rugby coach.

  • Billy Downie

Billy is Headteacher of The Streetly Academy. He is also a National Leader of Education supporting schools in challenging circumstances. In 2013, Streetly became the only school ever to win two Pearson Teaching Awards in one year. Billy is also an elected member of the West Midlands’ Regional School Commissioner’s Headteacher Board.

  • Dr Paula Franklin

Paula studied medicine at St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College and worked as a GP before leaving clinical practice to study public health at Johns Hopkins University in the USA. She then worked for the Children’s Defense Fund charity on US health policy and legislation. On returning to the UK Paula joined Bupa and held a number of senior medical roles in both funding and provision businesses before she becoming Chief Medical Officer in 2019.

  • Denise Gladwell

Denise has been in education for 57 years. After being Head of a small primary school in Coads Green in 1999, Denise created a new school, St Breock, from the architect’s plans, which eventually opened with just 36 pupils. St Breock now has over 240 pupils and is nationally recognised as an exemplar school for PE and sport.

  • Melanie Honnor

Melanie has over 20 years of experience working with international media and broadcasting companies with a focus on digital media and new technology platforms. She is currently Business Development Director for Qualcomm Europe. Throughout her career in the UK, she has worked with numerous sporting associations, leagues and stadium owners on how to use new technologies to improve the fan experience, create new commercial opportunities and increase interaction with players.

  • Joanna Coates

Joanna is the Chief Commercial Officer at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. She has more than 20 years of experience working with brands, rights holders and the media. She made waves in her former role as Chief Executive of England Netball, where they secured rights to host the Vitality Netball World Cup 2019 in Liverpool, which was the best attended Netball World Cup to date. Netball also became the fastest growing female team sport in the country under her guidance. 

  • Ben Stimson

Ben is the Chief Customer Officer at NHS Test and Trace. He was formerly Retail Director for Waitrose, with overall responsibility for leading the company's portfolio of 350 branches and the business's e-commerce offer. Since he joined the John Lewis Partnership in 2010, Ben has held a variety of senior roles, within both Waitrose and John Lewis. Before joining the Partnership, Ben worked for Sky in a senior marketing and communications role. He is chairman of the Nationwide Building Society's Charitable Foundation.

  • Belinda Richards

Belinda worked in professional services for over 25 years where she operated as a senior adviser in corporate finance and strategy, working at Deloitte as a corporate financial partner and Global Head of Merger and Separation Advisory Services until 2010. She also sits on the board at WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC and holds non-executive director roles at Monks Investment Trust PLC, Phoenix Group Holdings and Schroder Japan Growth Fund PLC.

  • Valerie Copenhagen

Valerie holds the role of Executive Director at UK Deaf Sport where she leads on programmes linked with increasing participation of deaf and hard hearing people in sport and physical activity across the UK. She has over ten years of experience within the charity sector. She also sits on the board at UK Council on Deafness and is chair of the Sport and Recreation Alliance Youth Advisory Panel.

  • Lauren Asquith

Lauren is the chair of our Youth Board. She is currently the Premier League 4 Sport and Disability Officer for Derby County Community Trust and previously worked with the National FA offering business support to the England Women's National Coaches (Under 15s - Seniors). Lauren currently coaches the Cerebral Palsy, Partially Sighted and Deaf regional squads for the East Midlands and works with the Derby County Girls Centre of Excellence.

Our Senior Leadership Team

  • Ali Oliver MBE – Chief Executive Officer

Working here for over 15 years, Ali played a central role in forming the national School Sport Partnership (SSP) network in her former role. Ali was previously a PE teacher, Head of PE and Deputy Director of Sport at a university. In 2020 Ali was awarded an MBE for her services to sport.

  • Will Roberts - Chief Operating Officer

Will is responsible for the delivery of our development programmes for young people. In his former role at YST, Will led the UK School Games Athlete Education Programme, which has influenced practice at the International Olympic Committee Youth Olympic Games.

  • Helen Vost - Managing Director - Youth Sport Trust International

With over 25 years’ experience in the voluntary sector, Helen supported our founders to establish the Youth Sport Trust as a charity in 1995. She is responsible for delivering EU Erasmus+ Sport funded projects with European partners and the delivery of the sport strand of the British Council’s Next Generation Gulf Programme.

  • Surinder Sihra - Director of Finance and Governance

Surinder is responsible for the YST financial and treasury strategies as well as ensuring that business plans and development programmes are effectively resourced and funded. 

  • Lisa McHendry - Director of Innovation and Insight

Having worked at YST for over 20 years, Lisa is responsible for overseeing our thought leadership work. She ensures that we develop innovative programmes that support schools and organisations to maximise the impact of PE, school sport and health-related activity.

  • James Kyte - Commercial Director

James oversees the commercial function of the organisation, which includes growing new revenue streams and strengthening existing partnerships.

  • Kay Batkin - Network Director

Kay has worked for YST for over 11 years and is responsible for growing and developing our relationship with schools and the networks that support them. Having joined Youth Sport Trust from Sharnbrook Upper School in Bedfordshire, Kay has a long history of working within the Education sector. In previous roles Kay has lead on the delivery of major national programmes such as the School Games. Recently Kay has been supporting the development and growth of the Well School Movement as well as supporting our member schools.

  • Emily Reynolds - National Programmes Director

Emily has worked for YST for 8 years and has responsibility for the development and delivery of our national level programmes. Throughout her time at the YST Emily, has led the introduction of YST Leadership Framework and overseen the approach to Reframe competition. Passionate about ensuring Young People are given a platform to be heard and empowered to take action.

  • Amanda Vernalls - Head of Research and Insight

Amanda is responsible for overseeing our research and insight team, who identify, strengthen and share evidence that champions the impact of PE, play and sport on yong people’s wellbeing, life skills and achievement.

  • Simon Ward -  Assistant Director, Corporate Communications

Simon leads the corporate communications team which oversees all of the charity's external communications and brand activity. This includes raising the charity's profile, driving engagement and campaigning for change in support of the mission.