Kate Whittle, Chair

Kate is one of the founder members of GO-OP Co-operative and was GO-OP Secretary from 2010 to 2015.She has been working in and with co-operatives of all kinds for over 25 years, both in the UK and in the Dominican Republic, where she worked as a volunteer with a federation of co-operatives in the Cibao.

From 1999 to 2004 she was an Associate at the Co-operative College. From 2003 to 2005 she served on the Board of the Phone Co-op. In 2003, together with Bob Cannell and David Dean, Kate founded Co-operative Business Consultants aiming to promote participative and co-operative management.

Together with Nathan Brown and Alex Lawrie of Somerset Co-operative Services, Kate developed and taught the Understanding Co-operative Enterprise Unit of the ILM accredited VRQ Level 5 training programme for UK co-operative business advisers. Kate also acts as the Internal Verifier for Jim Brown’s ILM accredited VRQ Level 5 Certificate and Diploma in Social Enterprise Support.

In 2010 Kate authored the popular ‘From Conflict to Co-operation’ series of booklets, aimed at helping community enterprises cope with the inevitable conflicts that arise and avoid unnecessary conflict by developing good co-operative skills.

In 2013 together with Nathan Brown she founded ‘Co-operantics’ – a co-operative support body aiming to improve co-operative skills (including communication skills, running effective meetings, decision-making, coping with conflict, negotiation and team working) in co-operatives and to promote and develop co-operative skills throughout all sectors of the economy and sections of society.

Kate was commissioned by Co-operatives UK to develop Co-operative Skills Seminars for UK worker co-ops. Kate designed and delivers the Strategic Planning and Managing Change seminar.

Alex Lawrie, Operations Director

Alex is an expert social enterprise advisor with significant experience in legal structures, financial management, community share offers, property development and project management.

With over 14 years’ experience in the sector, he has in-depth understanding of the different legal structures for social economy organisations and of the range of options available with respect to raising finance.

He is the author of the Somerset Rules - a new and unique set of I&PS Model Rules for a multi-stakeholder co-operative, combining the accountability and democracy of co-ops with the social reporting and investment opportunities associated with social enterprise. GO-OP Co-operative was registered using these Rules in 2009.

He is also the author both of Simply Finance (Co-operatives UK, 2000) and Empowering the Earth (Green Books, 2000).

He has managed several community share issues, including raising finance for GO-OP. He is a founder member of two Housing Co-ops and a Community Land Trust, Footprint Workers Co-operative, Chapeltown Credit Union, Lightweight Community Transport, the Ecological Land Co-operative (a community co-op) and of South West Co-operative Support Limited.

Alex holds a BA in Politics & Parliamentary Studies and is a SFEDI Accredited Social Enterprise Advisor.

Jean Nunn-Price MBE, Director

Jean specialises in environmental matters and public transport and is an active member of “Sustainable Wantage” – which campaigns to raise awareness of energy and climate change issues. She is keen to help establish GO-OP as an innovative co-operative public transport provider.

Jean originally graduated in Mathematics and pursued a scientific career working for the UK Research Councils in Swindon. After taking early retirement, she worked part-time first as a local government quality project manager, then for the Audit Commission as a Best Value Auditor, while studying law in her spare time with the Open University. Having graduated in Law and obtained her Legal Practice certificate, she now volunteers as a legal adviser at the local Independent Advice Centre and is a Labour and Co-operative Councillor in Oxfordshire.

Committed to Co-operative values and principles and actively involved in the community, Jean helped set up Oxfordshire’s first community owned wind farm as a founder director of the Westmill Windfarm Co-operative. She is a Director of the Midcounties Co-operative. Jean was awarded the MBE in 1991 for services to science and engineering and to the community.

Barbara Rainford, Director

Barbara was elected as a Director of the Midcounties Co-operative in 2013, she represents Midcounties on the Board of Co-op Futures and the Co-op Press (which publishes Co-op News).  She is also a board member of Young Enterprise in Shropshire and has been Secretary for the Shropshire branch of the Federation of Small Busineses for over 5 years. In this role she became involved in the formation of the Wrexham/Shropshire/Marylebone train service and this experience engendered an interest in the possibility of a co-operative train service.

Barbara's background includes accountancy as well as marketing and PR; she has run her own business since she was 18 and was one of the first women members of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. She is currently a partner in Strawberry Fields, a marketing consultancy.

In her time as Director of Midcounties she has become a staunch supporter (and defender) of co-operation, attending Congress, Co-op Futures and all the Ways Forward conferences concerning the future of the Co-op Group - and the Group AGMs.

M.R. Bond, Director

Director

Jo Burroughs, Director

Director

Gareth Dempster, Director

Director

Chris Phillimore, Advisor

Chris is MD of TIR Ltd, a multi-disciplinary Consultancy Business specialising in Rail. For ten years he worked in the construction industry managing a variety projects and specialised in civil engineering and services procurement and delivery. Chris trained initially as an architect and undertook a Management Diploma in 2001/2.

Chris specialises in the management of complex and highly regulated businesses with an emphasis on project development and delivery against tightly defined delivery schedules. Throughout his adult life his retained a strong commitment to Rail as the most efficient and environmentally sound mode of mass transport.

Mark Leving, Advisor

Mark Leving has been a railwayman his entire career, joining the industry in 1978. Having studied for a degree and working his way up ‘through the ranks’, he joined First Hull Trains as the company’s first MD in 2003. Under Mark’s leadership, in what is an extremely complex and heavily regulated environment, this open-access company was transformed: unlike most other train operating companies, First Hull Trains does not receive any subsidies, and is operated on a wholly commercial basis.

Mark left First Hull Trains in 2009 to work for Passenger Focus, and is currently employed as a Rail Franchise Analyst with the Go-Ahead Group.

Dr Nigel G Harris, Advisor

Nigel is a career railway planner. His experience of passenger (mainline, suburban and metro) and freight railways gives him an excellent understanding of how railways actually work, both physically and economically.

He has almost 20 years' experience as a consultant (having now worked for most British train operators, and on every continent except Antarctica!) after nearly 8 years as Network Analyst at London Underground.

He lectures on railway planning issues at the Universities of Newcastle and Birmingham (UK), and Sydney (Australia).

He is the author of 60+ papers, plus co-author/editor of books on "Planning Passenger Railways", "Planning Freight Railways", and "The Privatisation of British Rail".