GO-OP people


Kate Whittle, Director

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 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.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.

In 2019 Kate revised and updated the popular ‘From Conflict to Co-operation’ series of booklets, aimed at helping co-operatives cope with the inevitable conflicts that arise and avoid unnecessary conflict by developing good co-operative skills.

Alex Lawrie, Operations Director

Alex is an expert social enterprise advisor with twenty years' experience in legal structures, financial management, community share offers, property development and project management. He is employed by Somerset Co-op Services CIC as their lead development worker.

He is the author of the Somerset Rules - a new and unique governing document for multi-stakeholder co-operatives (suitable for co-op societies, community benefit societies and community interest companies), combining the accountability and democracy of co-ops with the social reporting and investment opportunities associated with social enterprise. He is also the author both of Simply Finance (Co-operatives UK, 2010) and Empowering the Earth (Green Books, 2000).

He has managed several community share issues enabling over £1M of social investment for two Housing Co-ops, Somerset Co-op Community Land Trust, Lightweight Community Transport, the Ecological Land Co-operative and others. In addition to GO-OP, he is also a director of The Development Co-op, The Ecological Land Co-op and Somerset Co-op Community Land Trust.

Alex holds a BA in Politics & Parliamentary Studies and is a SFEDI Accredited Social Enterprise Advisor. Most recently he has gained a Masters Degree in Strategy, Change and Leadership from Bristol University.

M.R. Bond, Director


Jo Burroughs, 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".

Alex Lawrence-Berkeley, Director

Alex Lawrence-Berkeley is 41 and lives in Frome. He is Chief Executive of Level Five Supplies, a supplier of technologies used in various applications including driverless cars and robotics. Before this role, he worked in media for a decade (including 5 years at the BBC, which he left in 2011), and has worked on a number of technology projects both in broadcasting and transport technology, as a project manager and marketer. In his spare time, he plays Cricket for Frome and Badminton for Somerset county. He is married with two teenage children and a cat.

Dr. Nick Kennedy, Director

Dr Nick Kennedy has spent 20 years as NHS Consultant, Anaesthetist and Intensivist working in frontline acute services, as well as seven years in hospital management roles. He has served as a non-executive director of four NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) Governing Bodies (Boards), and two joint boards, in two healthcare systems (Bristol and Devon). His role is the statutory Governing Body (GB) Independent Secondary Care Clinician, providing independent oversight and scrutiny of CCG’s at Board level in a Non-Executive Director capacity, and advise the Board, and wider CCG, as the only secondary care voice on CCG Boards This has provided him with experience of several different Boards styles, culture and dynamics; he understands what is needed to ensure successful board function and build consensus.