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Our Place Board bring together key organisations and individuals across Medway.

The Board has overseen the development of the Medway story and will provide a continuing senior and strong presence, standing up for Medway and playing an active role in taking Medway forward.

The Place board is interlinked with each of the key groups focussed on Medway Place making.  All of these groups are already in existence and set up to harness the enthusiasm of those key stakeholders across Medway, helping to provide a coherent structure to partnership working as we all seek to establish Medway as a great place to live, work, learn and visit.

Our Board Members

Place Board Chair - Simon Cook

MidKent College Principal

Simon began his career at 16 when he left school to become an apprentice chef.  He then embarked on a phenomenal journey in the hospitality and catering industry, taking him to work at prestigious 5-star London hotels, then on to Germany where he worked in some of the very best restaurants in the country. Building on these experiences, he went on to open a restaurant with four colleagues which soon gained a Michelin star.

Following a time working in South Africa, where he met his wife, Simon returned to England to start his second career in teaching. He built a strong reputation working in other Colleges before joining MidKent College in 2013, where he was appointed Principal & Chief Executive in September 2016.

Simon is passionate about the impact further education has on changing communities, shaping careers and building opportunities for all ages – all things he believes are so important in the communities of Medway & Maidstone where the College serves thousands of students every year.

Simon’s pride in Medway, who we are, and what we can achieve together, prompted his involvement in the development of the place board. He is humbled to serve as the board’s first independent Chair, and is committed to using his infectious enthusiasm for Medway and its people to make a positive difference for all.

Virginie Giles

Medway Place Manager & Director

Virginie joined the Medway Place making initiative in December 2018 responsible in delivering Medway place marketing and communication strategy. She has over 25 years in retail branding and marketing experience. Virginie has worked on both agency and client side, ranging from having successfully ran her own business through to, at the opposite end of the scale, working with major FMCG brands including Pret A Manger and Safeway.  She is well versed in the creation and execution of strategic, omnichannel focused, communications strategy.

Carol Ford

Business Professional

Carol has over 20 years’ experience in the Fresh Food & Fresh Produce industry, beginning her career as a Retail Buyer for Sainsbury’s, before working in a variety of dynamic and performance driven environments (FMCG). Carol has a BA in Business Economics and an MBA and has over the course of her career, delivered numerous operational and commercial strategic growth plans for growers and producers, leading to impressive growth in several businesses. She has a proven track record in delivering win/win outcomes for suppliers, growers and retailers.

Ashley Hook


“Ashley is Chief Executive of mhs homes – the largest housing provider in Medway. With over 9,000 homes locally, one in 12 people in Medway are a mhs homes customer. As a social landlord, Ashley believes that good quality safe affordable housing has a critical impact on quality of life and the success and wellbeing of communities in Medway.

By background, Ashley is a Chartered Surveyor and has a Master’s Degree in Urban & Regional Planning. He has undertaken a range of senior roles in the housing and regeneration sectors. Ashley also has extensive boardroom experience and is a Chartered Director.

Ashley has worked in Medway for 16 years and is passionate about Medway as the south east’s best hidden gem. He is an ardent supporter of all things Medway and is driven to ensure that the Place Board helps deliver opportunity and growth for all parts of the local community as well as the wider business economy.”

Richard Morsley

CEO Historic Dockyard

Richard is the Chief Executive of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust and has worked at the Historic Dockyard since  September 2019.   Having grown up in Medway, Richard is incredibly proud to lead such an amazing team, with responsibility for preserving this unique place for future generations and enabling people to learn about its fascinating 400-year history and the role of the Royal Navy in Chatham.  The closure of the Dockyard in 1984 resulted in such damage to the social fabric and economy of the Medway towns.  Today the Historic Dockyard is a vibrant community, with up to 1000 people working on site, 800 full and part time students, 400 residents and up to 180,000 visitors per annum.

Prior to joining the Historic Dockyard team, Richard was Director at Betteshanger Parks near Deal. He also held the positions of Deputy Director at Turner Contemporary, Margate, and is a Trustee of Open School East, Margate.

Richard Hicks

Director of Place & Deputy Chief Executive - Medway Council

Richard drives the delivery of the Council’s placemaking agenda, seeking to establish Medway as a great place to live, to work, to learn and to visit. As Director and Deputy Chief Executive, Richard has responsibility for Frontline Services, Culture and Community, Regeneration and Communications and Marketing.

Richard has held a number of roles at Medway since its inception in 1998, and before that time worked in a range of positions across Kent County Council, both at corporate and service level.

George Atzev

Student and Founder Future Chatham

George is a lifelong Medway resident and currently studies Urban Design & Planning at university.

At the age of 12 he launched Future Chatham, which is an independent source of information on the changes, development and regeneration of Chatham.

George is strongly passionate about Medway’s past, present and potential. He has a keen interest in regeneration, placemaking and heritage, and continues to be involved in various community-led projects in the area.

Through his involvement in the Place Board, George is driven to further strengthen the relationship between Medway’s people and places, and to celebrate the dynamic place that it is today.

Abi Davis

Young graduate eager to make a difference!

Young graduate eager to make a difference!

Craig Liddell

Student University of Kent

Craig is currently studying Politics and Law at the University of Kent, he has always had a focus on Medway’s Young People. From representing them from the Medway Youth Council, to helping to support Medway’s ‘Child Friendly Medway’ initiative.

Craig is focused on the future of Medway, including topics around Infrastructure, Housing and opportunities for young people.

Craig hopes that through his involvement in the Place Board, that he can represent the views and needs of young people across Medway, as it continues to evolve into the future.

Emma Dartnell

Executive Assistant to the Director of Place & Deputy Chief Executive - Medway Council.

Emma supports the Deputy Chief Executive across the range of his responsibilities, including our Putting Medway on the Map agenda. Emma was born in Medway, and has lived in Medway all her life.

Emma was educated in Medway, attending one of Medway’s all-girl Grammar Schools where she studied Mathematics, Business Studies, Spanish and French at A-Level.

Emma joined Medway Council as a recruiting assistant following her school studies and has continued to shape her career at Medway Council since that time.

Emma is passionate about Medway and its rich heritage and great future. Emma’s favourite view of Medway is from Church Green, Strood, with a vantage point of Medway’s monumental regeneration programme and a number of Medway’s greenspaces (Medway has the equivalent of 13.3 Hyde Parks under our direct management).

Emma’s favourite aspect of her Executive Assistant role is meeting new people and forming excellent working relationships with stakeholders, supporting them on Medway’s journey.