Our Board

YST Our Board of Directors
Our Board is chaired by Neil Davidson CBE, and features prominent individuals from a variety of backgrounds who all believe in our mission.
Neil Conference
Neil Davidson CBE - Chair

Neil is an experienced chairman and CEO with over 20 years experience on boards spanning FTSE 100 companies to SMEs. He became chair of the Youth Sport Trust in January 2018, and is also currently a non-executive director at WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC, Chairman of The Cricketer Publishing Ltd and a partner in Bridge4, a neuro-physiotherapy and health and fitness centre near Leicester. Previously he has been Chief Executive of Arla Foods and Express Dairies, Managing Director of Northern Foods and has chaired Cherry Valley Farms Ltd, Produce Investments PLC and Eminate Ltd, a food innovation business based at Nottingham University.

He has held a number of voluntary roles in the worlds of sport and education. He is currently President of Loughborough Town Cricket Club, a trustee at the United Learning academy chain, an associate governor at Ashmount Special Needs School in Loughborough and a member of the Lord’s Taverners charity. Between 2003 and 2010 Neil was Chairman of Leicestershire Country Cricket Club.

He was appointed a CBE for services to the dairy industry in 2006. 

Neil grew up in Loughborough where he attended Roseberry School and Loughborough Grammar School, and he still lives in the town. His favourite sports include cricket, hockey and golf.

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.  After finishing representing Team GB in rowing in 2016 Katherine is now the Chair of UK Sport. She joined the YST Board in 2018.

Born and educated in Scotland, Katherine graduated from Edinburgh University with a law degree. She achieved an MPhil in Medical Law and Medical Ethics from Glasgow University and then completed a PhD in the sentencing of homicide at King’s College, University of London.

In March 2015, Katherine was inaugurated as Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University.  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.  David is also an adviser to and investor in a number of early stage companies and a Member of Tech London Advocates, a group of technology leaders promoting London as a world leading digital and technology centre. 

David is 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, helping companies apply digital, data and technology. 

Previously, David was Vice President for AOL UK, helping to grow AOL to become the UK’s largest mainstream digital audience; Digital and Marketing Director for Time Inc., the world’s leading magazine publisher, for the UK, Europe and the US; and Managing Director of Digital for Bauer Media, Europe’s largest private media company.   David also founded AskPeopleYouKnow, a pioneer of the digital sharing economy.   

David is also a Member of Advisory Board of University of Birmingham Business School, a former member of London Olympic Legacy Board.  He is a qualified cricket and rugby coach with many years’ experience of coaching both cricket and rugby youth teams for Wasps Rugby and Primrose Hill Cricket Club in central London.     

Billy Downie

Billy DownieBilly is Headteacher of The Streetly Academy in Sutton Coldfield. He is also a National Leader of Education supporting schools in challenging circumstances.

In 2011, Billy chaired one of the first Local Organising Committees for the School Games. He served as a non-Executive Director of Youth Sport Direct, the trading arm of the Youth Sport Trust until 2016, as well as being a Board Member of the Black Country County Sport Partnership until 2014.

In February 2013, Streetly received the Youth Sport Trust Innovation Award for Excellence in harnessing PE and sport as a catalyst for learning. Also in 2013, they became the only school ever to win two Pearson Teaching Awards in one year.

Billy serves as an Education Strategist for Frog Education, one of the country’s largest online learning platform providers, and is an elected member of the West Midlands’ Regional School Commissioner’s Headteacher Board.

In his spare time Billy enjoys football, skiing, and travel but most of all spending time with his young family.

Dr Paula Franklin

Dr Paula FranklinPaula 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. Following this she  worked for the Children’s Defense Fund charity in Washington DC on US health policy and legislation. On returning to the UK Paula joined Bupa and between 1996 and 2010 held a number of senior medical roles in both funding and provision businesses. Paula then joined Marie Stopes International where she was Global Medical Director.

She returned to Bupa in 2013 to take up the role of UK Medical Director. In addition to her medical degree Paula has an MPH from Johns Hopkins, an MBA from the London Business School and a diploma in counselling.  She recently completed an MA in Bioethics and Medical Law.

Denise Gladwell

Denise was born in Manchester within sight of both Old Trafford grounds; cricket and football and has been in education for 57 years.

She attended Whalley Range High School for Girls and went on from there to Totley Thornbridge Teacher Training College and afterwards Sheffield University to graduate with a Bachelor of Education in 1973.

Moving from Manchester to Cornwall in 1979 and raising two sons was achieved alongside a successful teaching career. Firstly the headship of a small primary school in Coads Green and then in 1999 the opportunity to create a new school from the architect’s plans eventually opening with just thirty six pupils. 16 years later this new school, St Breock, with now 240 pupils is nationally recognised as an exemplar school for PE and Sport. This is in addition to academic achievement at the highest level. Since St Breock’s involvement as an advocate school for London 2012 and a member of Youth Sport Trust the school has gone from strength to strength and Denise’s passion for encouraging everyone to engage in sport has deepened. Denise believes that there is a sport out there for each of us; it just needs to be found.

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, one of the world's largest mobile technology firms. She leads Qualcomm's business initiatives for mobile TV and broadcast, which include working with mobile partners and content providers on creating commercial opportunities for mobile video.

Prior to joining Qualcomm, she has held various marketing and business roles at Sotheby's, PwC, Disney, BSkyB, Capital Radio (now Global Radio) and most recently at Discovery Networks International where she managed the Digital Media business for EMEA and was responsible for all commercial and strategic development of Discovery content across mobile and broadband. 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. 

Melanie holds an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She resides in West London with her husband Andrew and children Zachary, 7, and Annabelle, 5. In her spare time she is a keen swimmer and supports her local community by sitting on the Board of Friends of Brook Green.

Joanna Adams

As Chief Executive of England Netball, Joanna Adams, was responsible for the strategic plan of the sport across the country.  

With more than 20 years of experience working with brands, rights holders and the media, Joanna was one of the most highly regarded and innovative Chief Executives in British sport.  

Under her leadership, England Netball secured the rights to host the Vitality Netball World Cup 2019 in Liverpool, which was the best attended Netball World Cup to date, and has seen record growth in the company’s participation programmes, sponsorship deals and ticket revenue. Joanna was part of the team in 2018 that was pivotal in the England squad’s historic win at the Commonwealth Game, which has since inspired thousands of women to take up the sport. Under her guidance, netball became the fastest growing female team sport in the country.  

Joanna has now moved to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park where she takes up a new role as Chief Commercial Officer.  

Ben Stimson

Ben is Retail Director for Waitrose, with overall responsibility for leading the company's portfolio of 350 branches and the business's e-commerce offer. This includes developing Waitrose's shops to meet changing customer needs - including spearheading a rapidly growing hospitality and convenience 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 taking up his current role, Ben was Partnership Registrar, John Lewis, a board level position responsible for ensuring that the values of the Partnership are upheld throughout the organisation. He has also held the positions of both Director of Retail Operations and Director of Retail Services for Waitrose. 

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 joined the board of the Youth Sport Trust in 2018. She 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 joined the Youth Sport Trust board as an observer and then a full member in 2018. She holds the role of Executive Director at UK Deaf Sport where she is leading on and supporting programmes linked with increasing participation of deaf and hard hearing people in sport and physical activity across the UK.

She previously worked at the National Deaf Children’s Society and has over ten years of experience within the charity sector leading on the development, implementation and management of programmes within the voluntary sector. She also sits on the board at UK Council on Deafness and is chair of the Sport and Recreation Alliance Youth Advisory Panel.

Valerie is currently studying a part time MBA and competes and trains as part of the Great Britain Deaf Tennis Team.

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 15's - 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.