Who we are

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Ripon Museum Trust is an organisation of dedicated, enthusiastic and skilled individuals who look after three unique heritage buildings, their collections and visitors with a team of over 140 volunteers.

Our volunteers are magic!

The Trust is a volunteer driven organisation with volunteering at the heart of everything we do. We have a wide selection of volunteers from across the spectrum, from 8 to 90 and from all walks of life. We have volunteering opprtunities in every part of our operation from gardeners to guides, from admission to administration, from learning to leading, we can find a role that will suit any skills, experience or enthusiasms you may have. All our volunteers are invited to share their ideas, opinions and influence the successful operation of Ripon Museums. If you would like to learn more about volunteering, see our support us page.

Our paid staff

Director (Helen Thornton) [email protected]

Curator (Laura Allan) [email protected]

Learning and Outreach Manager (Carrie Philip) [email protected]

Learning Officer (Lily Kellett) [email protected]

Outreach Officer (Anna Cross) [email protected]

Marketing Manager (Amy Lord) [email protected]

Volunteers & Operations Manager (Vicki Lever) [email protected]

Operations Officer (Sonja Nowicki) [email protected]

Volunteering Development Officer (Jessica Hesketh) [email protected] 

Technical Assistant (Paul Grayson) [email protected]

Garden Leader (Catherine Baxter) [email protected]

The Board of Trustees

The Board meet formally six times a year to provide governance and leadership for the organisation. They are very hands-on and most also volunteer as receptionists, guides, education leaders and gardeners.

Richard Taylor (Chair) 

Richard is Chair of the Trust, a role which he says has been a great privilege and source of pleasure. It allows him to continue his interest in the heritage where he worked professionally in historic environment management for over 30 years most recently as the conservation team leader at Leeds City Council.

As a chartered town planner specialising in built environment conservation he previously had experience of regeneration as the Ripon Project Officer for the former national charity, the Civic Trust. Since taking early retirement in 2010 Richard continues active involvement in local affairs as Vice-Chair of Ripon Civic Society and has been part of the team to devise and promote the Ripon City Plan. Following its approval he is keen to see the Plan delivering real benefits to the city.

In the brief spare time left over he enjoys singing in Ripon Choral Society, exploring his native Yorkshire and beyond and admits to an addiction to cryptic crosswords and Radio 4.

Mandy Whitehead (Vice Chair) - Chair of People Committee

Mandy has held a variety of senior leadership and management roles over the last twenty years developing and delivering projects and services in 4 different educational/Local Authority settings. Currently employed by East Riding of Yorkshire Council as their Children's Centre Development Manager; Mandy works in a strategic service development role developing integrated services for families with young children with health partners in community settings across the Authority and is also the strategic lead for parenting for the Authority. Mandy brings considerable experience of strategic planning, project management, reporting, evaluation and good governance.

 Mandy has a long standing interest in community development and heritage in Ripon and for 5 years was the community development manager for the City. Currently she chairs the Ripon Re-Viewed Project - a Heritage Lottery Funded Ripon Civic Society project to preserve, digitise and make accessible a collection of 7000 images which record a century of life in the city of Ripon.

David Thelwall (Treasurer) - Chair of Finance and Marketing Committee

David’s early experience was with Unilever and Ranks Hovis McDougall in general management, marketing and strategic planning. He has had his own Management Consultancy business for some 30 years, specialising in marketing and strategy, in the agribusiness, food and bioscience sectors. He also runs a web-based business comparison service (Prime Numbers) – this hosts the Culture Benchmark that provides comparative financial information (>2,000 datasets) on cultural and creative organisations.

David leads on financial and strategic development and is well used to managing major projects in the commercial and not-for-profit arenas.

Christopher Hughes - Chair of Business and Operations Committee

Christopher, after a BA in Town & Country Planning and later an MA in Conservation, Historical & Vernacular Architecture, held various local authority Planning posts culminating as Assistant Direct (Planning) at Bradford Council.

He has substantial experience working with Senior Councillors, the development industry, staff management and team working.

Christopher is highly involved in Ripon’s cultural and built environment arenas – Vice Chair of Ripon Civic Society, Director of Ripon Together CIC, member of the Cathedral Fabric Advisory Committee, member of team preparing Ripon’s neighbourhood plan.

Professor Martin Webber - Chair of Learning and Curation Committee

Martin is Professor of Social Work at the University of York and is Director of the International Centre for Mental Health Social Research.

His primary research interest is in the development and evaluation of social interventions with people with mental health problems.

Martin’s expertise regarding wellbeing, social capital and inclusion and how our Museums can be used as an asset in this area are extremely beneficial in a Museum such as ours. Furthermore, he widens our strategic perspective substantially. Finally, his research discipline is very valuable in evaluating and assessing projects on sustainability, capacity building, volunteer development and the like.

Lizzy Tyler

Lizzy has worked as a HR Professional for 20 years working within FTSE 100 and 250 companies and is now a part-time self-employed consultant. As a member of both the BPS (British Psychological Society) and CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) Lizzy has demonstrable examples within all areas of HR and the employee lifecycle; change management, employee relations, organisation design, employee engagement, reward, talent management, succession planning, recruitment and  leadership development.

Lizzy is particularly passionate about inspiring the next generation; volunteering at local schools and guest lecturing at universities with particular emphasis on ‘Employability’ skills.

Lizzy is a local resident of Ripon and in her spare time says she enjoys getting some good Yorkshire fresh air!

Alexa Vernon

Alexa has worked in the field of marketing for 15 years and is currently Visitor Experience and Marketing Manager at Fountains Abbey, managing the team that delivers promotion, exhibitions, events, interpretation, learning and visitor development projects. Alexa is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Mary-Ann Irbins

Mary-Ann is an experienced Arts & Heritage Commercial Development Consultant having held senior management roles for many years with some of the UK’s leading High St. retail brands. Followed by almost 7 years as National Retail Operations Manager for the National Trust (England and Northern Ireland)

Since establishing her consultancy practice in 2004 Mary Ann has worked with many Museums and Galleries across the UK. Gaining a reputation for developing innovative and creative solutions focused on developing income, delivering measurable results and enhancing the visitor experience.

Virginia Arrowsmith

Virginia has worked in the heritage sector for more than 20 years as a curator and community engagement specialist, for organisations such as York Minster Library & Archives, York Museums Trust and English Heritage. She currently works as a freelance consultant for a range of museums and heritage organisations including the English Heritage Trust and the National Trust, advising them on oral history, research and interpretation, and community liaison and engagement. She currently works with the Wensleydale Railway Association Trust delivering the award-winning education and engagement programme at Scruton Station near Bedale. Virginia is an Associate Member of the Museums Association (AMA).

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