Our Board

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

Tim Hollingsworth

Tim Hollingsworth is the Chief Executive of the British Paralympic Association, working alongside National Governing Bodies of Sport towards London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and projects post-2012. Previously Tim was the Chief Operating Officer at UK Sport, the nation's high performance sport agency. Prior to becoming COO, he spent five years as the organisation's Director of Policy and Communications. Before UK Sport, Tim worked for four years as a Director of a strategic communications consultancy. Tim also worked for two years as Head of Corporate Media and Internal Communications at Granada Media plc and spent five years as Head of Media Relations at the Confederation of British Industry.

Alongside his current role as board member of the Youth Sport Trust, Tim is the Co-Chair with Don Foster MP of Team West of England, which is a partnership dedicated to ensuring that the region benefits from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. A graduate of Exeter University, with a Masters degree in Drama, he is married with two sons and lives in Bath.

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.

Sally Munday

Sally Munday is the CEO for England Hockey and Great Britain Hockey and has worked in sport for all of her career previously having worked for the Lawn Tennis Association and Reading Borough Council.  

She is a member of the Government's Sports Business Council and also sits on the Board of English Institute of Sport and is an active member of the NGB CEO Forum.

In addition to her sports administration career, Sally has been an active sports coach and team manager having managed England and Great Britain's junior and senior squads. 

Adrian Simpson

Adrian SimpsonAdrian has 20 years experience of visiting the boardrooms and shop floors of some of the worlds most innovative, successful and admired companies including - Apple, Tesla, LEGO, Google, Ritz-Carlton Hotels, Netflix, Four Seasons Grameen Bank, IKEA and Zappos.

In 2008 Adrian co-founded Wavelength - a world-class executive education company that enables ambitious leaders to develop their knowledge, connectivity and resilience.

At heart Adrian is a connector and gatherer of stories and never happier than when scouring the world for examples of companies at the frontiers of service excellence, innovation, employee engagement, service excellence and social innovation. Since November 2015, he has served on board of Youth Sport Trust, dedicated to improving the lives of young people through sport.

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 (observer)

Valerie joined the Youth Sport Trust board as an observer in 2018. She works as the Head of Participation at UK Deaf Sport where she is leading a strategy to grow participation of deaf and hard hearing people in sport and physical activity.

She previously worked at the National Deaf Children’s Society and has over ten years of experience leading on development, implementation and management of programmes within the voluntary sector.

Valerie plays tennis and netball and represented Great Britain at the inaugural World Deaf Tennis Championships in 2015.

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