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Our Board

Our Board

Our volunteer Board of Trustees is made up of recognised leaders across many different areas of expertise. Please read on to find out a little more about each Board member.

Gillian Thomson - Chair

Gillian Thomson - Chair

Gillian is an entrepreneur and leadership coach, focussed on supporting leaders to find a sense of purpose and be the best they can be through transformational coaching. Having trained originally as an engineer, she previously held senior HR roles in Centrica, RBS & Mars. Gillian joined the Inspire Board in 2014 and, as of November 2020, chairs the Board. She lives in Banchory with her son and dog, Coco.

Francis Neill - Vice Chair

Francis Neill - Vice Chair

Francis is presently the Executive Chairman and CEO of oilfield technology services company Ziebel - a company that uses fiber optic technology to optimise oil and gas wells. He is also a non-executive director and advisor to Silicon Microgravity, a BP backed spin out of Cambridge University, which is developing ultra small gravity sensors.

Prior to his present roles Francis has spent the last 13 years as CEO of oilfield technology companies EV, Brinker and Gravitec. Before that he held senior management positions in Aker, Expro and Schlumberger living in the US, France, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt.

When not working he can be found sailing in Stonehaven bay or the Loch of Skene, biking round the hills of Aberdeenshire or playing tennis. He has a particular interest in disadvantaged young adults as he has a son who has cerebral palsy.

Derek Baxter

Derek Baxter

Derek retired from the Police last year after 30 years service and is currently working in an Emergency and Crisis Management role in the Oil industry. He joined the Inspire board in August 2014 and chairs the Service Provision Committee.

Peter Blackledge

Peter Blackledge

Peter Blackledge is a qualified social worker who joined Partnership Housing (Inspire’s original name) in 1989. As General Manager from 1992 to 2001, Peter oversaw the establishment of Partnership services in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray. He subsequently undertook a variety of tutoring, research and development work in social care and higher education until he retired in 2015. He joined the Inspire Board in November 2018.

Stuart Brown

Stuart Brown

Stuart Brown is Head of SME Banking for Barclays in Scotland. His role in managing a division within a global Business which includes managing people, governance, new business development and managing Financials. He provides strong value add to the Inspire Board. He is also involved in supporting Social Business and Entrepreneurs in growing their businesses across the UK. He holds key relationships with Entrepreneurial Scotland, IoD and the Chambers of Commerce.

John Chessor

John Chessor

John is a Chartered Accountant, formerly financial director of the John Clark Motor Group. He served on the Inspire Board some years ago until work commitments prevented him from continuing, but was delighted to be re-appointed in 2014 after he retired from full-time employment. John chairs the Property and Finance committee and serves on the people committee.

Allan Dick

Allan Dick

Allan is semi-retired doing business mentoring for the Scottish Chamber of Commerce and a Trustee in third sector organisations. Previously he was owner/partner in a management consultancy following a corporate life with a global packaging company. He is married with three grown-up daughters.

Nick Gray

Nick Gray

Nick has enjoyed 30 years of working in finance, both in the North East of Scotland and internationally through extensive travel, covering numerous industries . He started off in a local firm of accountants learning his trade and progressed to being a Finance Director. Nick is a qualified ACCA accountant.

He is also a mentor to three people via the ACCA program and also joined The Oil and Gas Technology Centre TechX process which allows him to mentor one of the Cohort companies.

Nick has always been driven by trying to add value to an organisation, improve performance and develop talent; his hope is to bring some of that focus to help Inspire.

Rob Hamilton

Rob Hamilton

Rob is CEO of technology service provider Dynamic Edge, a business he started in 2009. Dynamic Edge have supported Inspire since 2011. He joined the Inspire board in March 2013.

Colin Hawkins

Colin Hawkins

Colin retired from his position of Chief Executive of Osprey Housing Association in 2017 following a varied career within the affordable housing sector in Lewisham, Clackmannan and Aberdeenshire. Colin has served on the Board for over a decade and currently is chair of the Governance Committee and a member of the Service Provision Committee.

Caroline Laurenson

Caroline Laurenson

Caroline is the Managing Director of TL Tech Smart Home Solutions. She is a Chemical Engineer by background with extensive experience in operating process plants, monitoring the process conditions to ensure that product quality is maintained and that parameters are within safe limits of design. Caroline is also a qualified project manager with a proven track record of delivering complex projects and portfolios with values in excess of £1m. Her previous experience working for an engineering consultancy firm has provided her with key skills such as sales, communications, networking and stakeholder management.

Caroline is also a STEM Ambassador and Fellow of the IChemE, in these roles she loves to share her knowledge and inspire others to excel in engineering and technology.

Dave Lynch

Dave Lynch

Dave is the owner of Belvidere Consulting Ltd, an executive consulting company supporting strategy development and commercial transactions across the global energy sector. Prior to this he served as Vice President Reservoir Development at BP and was also on the Board of directors of BP Exploration Operating Company. Dave has held a number of external board positions in the Technology and University sectors. He is currently an honorary professor at Robert Gordon’s University and has been a director of Inspire since 2011. Dave likes all sport but particularly likes going downhill on his mountain bike.

Douglas Murray

Douglas Murray

Douglas is contentedly retired after a career in the legal profession initially in Edinburgh but principally in Aberdeen. He has been a Board member for a number of years and he is also involved in other charity work. Outside interests include travel, walking, reading, bridge and other similar pursuits.

Sally Shaw

Sally Shaw

Sally Shaw was previously interim Chief Officer at Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership and is the current Chief Officer for Orkney Health and Care - the Integration Joint Board that commissions and oversees community health and social care services in the Islands. Sally began her career more than 30 years ago as a nurse before moving into social work and has extensive experience at a senior level in health, social care and the Third sector. She joined the Inspire Board in November 2018.

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