Governance & leadership

Our Chief Executive

Amelia joined Venture Trust in June 2010 as Head of Finance & Administration. For the last three years she has also taken on the role of Head of Development for Venture Trust’s social enterprise, Venture Mòr. So she could not be better placed to take on the demanding challenges of leading Venture Trust charity into a successful future. Amelia is passionate about supporting people to realise their potential. Many people who Venture Trust supports have experienced considerable and complex challenges in their lives. They often have incredibly low self-esteem, and in many cases have been told they will not amount to anything. Their aspirations are based around surviving and getting by, whilst relationships are fractured, and behaviours destructive. She is committed to enabling Venture Trust to help more people to change their lives for more positive futures.


Our Patron

We are delighted to have the support of Baroness Vivien Stern as Patron of Venture Trust’s work.

Baroness Vivien Stern

Vivien Stern, Member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, and renowned author on the subjects of penal reform and criminal justice, is our Patron for Venture Trust in the UK: "I am very happy to be a Patron of Venture Trust. Everything I have seen of the Trust’s work is very impressive and it is clear that their personal development wilderness journey work is very challenging and really does help young people to find strengths in themselves that they didn’t know they had".



Our Board of Directors

Mairi Brackenridge (Chair)

Mairi started her career as a social worker in London, with a number of social work roles in Glasgow and Strathclyde before becoming Head of Adult and Justice Services, in South Lanarkshire, with responsibility for a range of adult services including substance misuse, mental health, disability and justice services. In 2009, following early retirement, Mairi has moved into consultancy and holds a non-executive role with Indepen-dance, a company that offers integrated dance with disabled people.

Susan Davies

Susan Davies is Director of Conservation at the Scottish Wildlife Trust. She also has over 15 years experience working with Scottish Natural Heritage including a secondment to the Rural and Environment Science department at the Scottish Government. Susan brings to Venture Trust a detailed understanding of the Scottish Government, public sector priorities and funding opportunities, and has long-term experience of volunteering with and mentoring young people.

Gillian Gray

Gillian is a qualified Chartered Accountant. She is Chief Finance Officer of UK mobile games developer, Outplay Entertainment Limited. As well as leading the Finance Team, and being part of the Executive Team, Gillian is responsible for commercial growth across the product portfolio. Prior to joining Outplay, Gillian worked with a number of companies, predominantly in the Technology Sector, as a Consultant, to provide senior finance skills eg strategy setting, business forecasting, and fundraising. Gillian gained broad commercial and financial experience prior to this from 17 years spent with the large professional services firm, Andersen, latterly as Director in charge of corporate and private equity led transactions in a variety of sectors, including sell-side Advisory and Transaction Management.

Professor Peter Higgins

Peter Higgins is a Professor of Outdoor and Environmental Education at the University of Edinburgh, and is the only personal chair in the field in Europe. He holds high-level instructional awards in a wide range of outdoor activities, and teaches practical and academic aspects of postgraduate outdoor and environmental education programmes. He is a member of national and international advisory groups and EU and UNESCO educational projects, and has advised the UK and Scottish Governments on outdoor and environmental education, access to the countryside and related environmental issues. He has conducted extensive research and published widely in these fields.

Jennifer Lambert

Jennifer Lambert is a director with Blake Stevenson Ltd., an Edinburgh-based company providing social research and consultancy support to the public and third sectors in Scotland and other parts of the UK. She has been with the company for nine years, working prior to that in a senior role in the Scottish European Social Fund Objective 3 Partnership. Before returning to these roles in Scotland, Jennifer worked for a number of years in programme and project management for Price Waterhouse Vienna and another Vienna-based consultancy company in Austria. She brings to the board experience of working with young people, a comprehensive understanding of the third sector in Scotland, funding expertise and a passion for social justice.

Tom Mallows

Tom Mallows works for Crown Estate Scotland, leading the high profile piloting of innovative community asset management and having previously led external affairs, marine policy, consenting and infrastructure development for The Crown Estate in Scotland. Tom has a range of high level experience within environmental organisations including General Manager for SMRU Ltd, the commercial arm of the Sea Mammal Research Unit, SEPA and SNH. Tom is an outdoors enthusiast, being active in orienteering, triathlons, trail running and is a Duke of Edinburgh expedition leader. He is interested in leadership, individual motivation and personal growth, as well as all matters relating to sustainable rural and coastal communities.

Mel Sangster

Mel is a lawyer with Burness Paull LLP. She has specialised in employment and discrimination law for over 17 years, and advises clients in the public, third and private sector on all aspects of employment law and industrial relations. She is an experienced employment tribunal advocate - regularly handling complex, high value claims involving issues such as discrimination and whistleblowing. She brings to the board a wealth of experience in equality, diversity and HR issues.

Nicola Thomson

Over the past 25 years Nicola has worked with a diverse range of global brands, from famous sports brands to pet food giants, from skin care experts to the life and pensions business, and most recently the worlds of whisky and entertainment. From an agency and client side, she has focused on brands and their reinventions, managing this both internally and externally, from strategic repositioning through to successful implementations and the delivery of robust marketing and communications programmes. From 2015, Nicola shaped The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo Strategy for Growth. As the business looked to move from being an iconic Edinburgh event, to a global events company, branding, marketing and communications supported and delivered to this strategic ambition. Prior to the Tattoo Nicola managed Standard Life's global roll-out of the new brand and its refreshed visual identity. Nicola is also a long term leader for The Princes Trust and facilitates the Explore Enterprise Programme for Young Entrepreneurs.

Alastair Clarkson

Alastair is a qualified actuary and past Chair of the Life Board of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. He has 30 years’ experience in financial services and currently works for Standard Life Aberdeen, where he has held a number of senior executive positions across Finance and Risk. In his current role as Business Risk Review Director he carries out independent review and challenge of new areas of strategy and key strategy enablers. Alastair brings to the Board extensive experience of the development and implementation of risk management frameworks. Outside work, Alastair enjoys spending time outdoors with his family, hill-walking in the summer and skiing in winter.

Katy Hetherington

Katy has worked for NHS Health Scotland, a national NHS Board focused on tackling health inequalities since 2006. As part of her role on child and adolescent public health, she is leading work with a range of partners on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). This includes shaping action which will contribute to a Scotland wide movement on the prevention of ACEs and to a more informed response in policy and practice. Prior to working on child and adolescent public health, she led national work on public health’s role in the prevention of homelessness in Scotland and co-authored the Scottish Pubic Health Network’s Report on health and homelessness. Katy was also involved in the health sector’s contribution to Scotland’s National Action Plan on Human Rights and continues to have an interest in how a right to health approach can bring action on health inequalities.

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