Ronnie Graham – Chair

Ronnie joined Ryder having graduated from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 2000. He completed his professional training and qualified in 2002. His rapid progress to a team leader is testament to his tenacious approach and excellent design and management skills. At Ryder he has led major projects for commercial, leisure, residential and education schemes with significant urban design requirements. Ronnie and his team are providing services to an increasing portfolio of commercial clients which has most recently involved securing a 250,000 sqft new build, grade A office development in Southampton. Ronnie was project architect for several Bannatyne Fitness Health Clubs across the country. This work contributed greatly to his technical competence in swimming pool and leisure design. Ronnie was instrumental in winning the South Tyneside and Gateshead Building Schools for the Future development and acted as project architect on all projects to date, this has involved working closely with the clients of key stakeholders to develop design proposals for education facilities worth circa £180m.

Colin Seccombe – Treasurer

Colin retired as Chief Executive of Newcastle Building Society in 2010. He joined in the Society in 1997 as Finance Director and took over as its Chief Executive in 2006.  Prior to joining the Society, Colin spent 23 years with KPMG, latterly in its Plymouth office where he was a partner for 10 years specialising in audit of financial services organisations and corporate finance work. Colin joined the Community Foundation’s Board in 2007 and was elected Treasurer in 2009. He chairs the Community Foundation’s Finance & Investment Committee and sits on the Honorary Officers Committee.

Frances Castle – Secretary

Fran was born in Halifax, West Yorkshire and moved to Newcastle to study for a BSc (Hons) Degree in Sociology and Social Research at Northumbria University. A variety of jobs followed, including a brief spell as Research Assistant for Northumbria Probation Service, before she ‘accidentally’ became involved in the arts, joining Theatre Station Blyth in 1992 as Co-Ordinator for the award winning Releasing Potential project. A Co-founder of Headway in January 1995, Fran became Director (and more recently Chief Executive) later that year. Fran’s strong belief that everyone is different and everyone is equal is the driving force behind Headway.

Kathie Wilcox – Trustee

An enthusiastic, experienced and highly motivated communications professional with a strong work ethic and over 10 years’ experience in the PR and marketing industry – including both agency and in-house roles (with particular expertise in travel, tourism and cultural sectors). I’ve also gained senior management, team leadership and strategic campaign planning experience in recent years too.
Awarded CIPR North East, Young Communicator of the Year 2007. Specialties: Media relations, strategic PR campaign planning and delivery, in house and corporate communications, international consumer PR, team leadership, marketing communications and corporate communications.

Paul James – Trustee

I was born in Bristol and studied Drama in Liverpool before working with the acclaimed Theatre In Education and Community Company at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield where I worked as an actor for 2 years. Since then I have worked as an actor for various companies including the Liverpool Everyman, Bristol Old Vic, Northern Stage, Talawa (Leading UK black Theatre Company), Live Theatre, Newcastle, Mercury Theatre, Colchester, Theatre Foundry, Tyne and Wear Theatre In Education Company, Gazebo Theatre In Education Company and Northumberland Theatre Company.  I have also run a number of courses at Headway Theatre, Blyth and the University of Sunderland. In 1998 I became an Associate Director at Live Theatre, Newcastle, where I am responsible for Education and Participation.


We gratefully acknowledge the generous support of all our funders which currently includes:

  • Arts Council England
  • Blyth Town Council
  • Community Foundation
  • Edward Gostling Foundation – RW Mann Trust – Shears Foundation
  • Erasmus+
  • Great Northumberland
  • Hadrian Trust – High Sheriff of Northumberland – Rothley Trust
  • Heritage Fund
  • National Lottery Community Fund
  • Northumberland County Council
  • Postcode Community Trust
  • Sir James Knott Trust
  • The 1989 Willan Trust – Wellesley Trust
  • the Coalfields Regeneration Trust