Our Senior Leadership Team

YST Our Senior Leadership Team
Our Senior Leadership Team head up the day-to-delivery of the Trust's activities.
Ali Oliver
Alison Oliver - Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Ali Oliver has been the Youth Sport Trust's Chief Executive Officer since 2015 and has worked at the charity for over 15 of its 25 years. During her time at the charity she played a central role in the establishment of the national School Sport Partnerships network and has overseen the development and implementation of wide-reaching and inclusive national youth sport programmes including the School Games, Change4Life Sports Clubs, Sky Sports Living for Sport, and TOP Sportsability. Her most recent vision is the Well School movement. Between 2013 and 2018 the Youth Sport Trust helped 4.7 million young people enjoy inclusive sport and Physical Education through the Sport Changes Lives strategy which Ali led.

Ali started her career as a PE teacher in Essex, becoming Head of PE at Millfield School before moving to the University of Bath where she became the Deputy Director of Sport from 1998 to 2004 working on the English Institute of Sport project. She was also Director of Netball and played a pivotal role in the creation of the TEAMBath Netball Superleague franchise. In 2019 Ali was recognised as an honorary Doctor of the university and was named Not-for-Profit Leader of the Year in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies. Ali is a Trustee of the charities Chance to Shine, the Healthy Learning Trust and Change the Score and a board member of the Sport for Development Coalition.

Will Roberts - Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Having previously led the development of the School Games National Finals since 2007, Will has considerable experience in the development of sporting opportunities for young people through competitive sport, coaching and volunteering, and for talented young people.

Will is responsible for ensuring the effective and efficient delivery of our development programmes for young people. This includes the large scale national programmes which reach hundreds of thousands of young people each year, through to the small scale highly focussed piece of development work and our range of national camps. In this role Will also plays a key part in managing relationships with a number of major public and private sector partners in sport.

In his previous role as Head of Sport, Will was jointly responsible for the Sporting Best element of the Youth Sport Trust's strategic plan. He conceived the concept of a multi-dimensional Talent Camp for young athletes, coaches and officials and is a passionate proponent of the creation of multi-sport and multi-role environments to broaden and deepen the learning experience for young people. Under Will's leadership, the UK School Games' Athlete Education Programme grew into a transforming experience which has influenced practice at the IOC's Youth Olympic Games.

With a background in Sport, Will has received a number of national level awards as a volunteer coach alongside his career, served on the board of a National Governing Body, worked as part of an International Sports Federation Advisory Group, supported development work in Brazil, Kuwait and South Africa, and spoken on behalf of the Youth Sport Trust at the Australian National Sports Convention. 

Surinder Sihra - Director of Finance and Governance

Surinder joined the Youth Sport Trust (YST) in 2016 to head the finance team and be responsible for the governance of the organisation. As a member of the Senior Leadership Team he is responsible for the financial and treasury strategies as well as providing financial leadership to the Youth Sport Trust, ensuring that business plans and development programmes are effectively resourced and funded. 

Surinder started his career working for GEC a multinational organisation where he progressed from being a Trainee Accountant to Finance Director. Due to career progression, he moved from one subsidiary to another gaining extensive experience in all aspects of accounting and businesses of a differing nature (including R&D and manufacturing).

After moving from GEC, Surinder joined a private equity backed company named FlaktWoods dealing with the heating and ventilation industry. Here he gained extensive experience of the manufacturing processes and systems, sales team and commercial activities and sourcing. His legacy is the setting up of the Operations Management information system that included financial and key operations metrics. 

James Kyte - Commercial Director

Having held senior roles within the consumer goods and retail sectors James joined the trust in 2018 to oversee the commercial function of the organisation. James will provide leadership and guidance in supporting the trusts ambition to grow new revenue streams at the same time as strengthening existing partnerships.

James has worked for multinational businesses including General Mills and Lidl before moving into consumer goods nine years ago. The change in sector saw him leading sales teams to develop and deliver product ranges into many of the UK and North America’s biggest retailers by working collaboratively with license owners such as Disney, Warner Brothers, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. It is this background which means he is well placed to identify new opportunities for the trust and ensure it is innovative in its approach to generating both funding and recognition in support of its objectives.

Prior to his commercial roles James served as an officer in the Royal Air Force and played rugby for Leicester Lions in National League 2.

Lisa McHendry - Director of Innovation & Insight

Lisa joined the Youth Sport Trust (YST) in 1997 as an area Development Officer managing the development and delivery of the Primary TOP’s programmes. Over the subsequent 20 years she has had numerous roles and been responsible for leading and managing a number of key strategic areas of work, across health, sport, leadership and inclusion. This has involved the creation and implementation of a number of key Government and Corporate funded programmes. 

In her current role as Development Lead for Innovations, she is responsible for overseeing the ‘thought leadership’ work of the organization, ensuring that the YST develop innovative programmes and services that support schools and settings, to maximize the impact of PE, School Sport and Health related activity, and support the aspirations and achievement of all pupils. 

With a background in Sport Development, Lisa graduated from Sheffield Hallam University in 1993 and prior to joining the Youth Sport Trust gained a wealth of sport development experience working in units across the country, including Birmingham CC, Stratford-upon-Avon, East Riding of Yorkshire and Wigan MBC. Internationally, she has supported the delivery of key Sport for Development initiatives including The 2012 legacy programme International Inspirations working in Azerbaijan, India and Brazil.

Amanda Vernalls - Head of Research & Insight

Amanda joined Youth Sport Trust in April 2019 and leads the monitoring, evaluation, analytical, research and insight functions. With over 25 years’ experience, gained across a wide range of market research and consumer insight roles in a number of mission-led organisations, she started her career at TSB Bank, leading research across retail banking categories with responsibility for customer service data and brand research. From there she moved to Boots as Head of Market Research, delivering qualitative and quantitative work for Boots the Chemists, Halfords, Wellbeing services & Boots Opticians. This including directing research programmes to develop and launch the Boots Advantage card and the development of the “Look Good, Feel Good” strategy.

Most recently, at Capital One Bank UK, she oversaw all consumer research programmes including work to shape new product development, Brand strategy, advertising & communications, user experience, and digital platforms. Her work focused on ensuring that products and services met the needs of those who struggled to access mainstream credit in support of the vision to ‘Make Lives Better’.

Amanda has always been a passionate believer in the power of data and information to inspire improvement and change. She brings this drive to YST, identifying, strengthening and sharing evidence which champions the impact of Physical Education, play and sport on wellbeing, life-skills and achievement.

Helen Vost - Managing Director - Youth Sport Trust International

Helen has over 25 years’ voluntary sector experience.  She was instrumental in establishing the Youth Sport Trust as a charity in 1995, supporting Founder and President, Sir John Beckwith and Vice-President, Duncan Goodhew. 

She has headed up the international team for the past four years. Her areas of specialism are strategic planning, new business, stakeholder engagement and bid writing. Other areas of expertise include press and public relations, corporate partnerships, fundraising and event management. Her recent focus has been on delivering a number of EU Erasmus+ Sport funded projects with European partners and also delivery of the sport strand of the British Council’s Next Generation Gulf Programme.

Helen has a BA Honours degree in English Literature from London University.