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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

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.

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.”

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.

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.

Councillor Alan Jarrett

Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance - Medway Council

Alan Jarrett has been a councillor since 1997 at the first elections held for the Medway Unitary Authority.

He was part of the Conservative opposition in Medway from 1997-2000, whereupon the Conservatives formed a minority administration. He assumed the finance portfolio in 1999. Shortly after the 2000 election he was elected as Deputy Leader of Medway Council, a post he held for 15 years. Following the 2015 election Alan was elected as Leader.

Medway Council adopted cabinet governance in 2001 and with the control of the finance portfolio he has worked with colleagues to ensure that Medway Council retains a low rate of council tax whilst maintaining a high standard of service delivery. This strategy has led to successive election victories so that today Medway Conservatives have a healthy majority.

As Leader he has retained the responsibility of Cabinet Member for Finance as well as Communications and Marketing alongside the strategic leadership of the Council.

Alan’s vision for the area is to ensure improvements in housing and business proceed at pace for the benefit of residents, businesses and visitors alike. He believes that it is essential regeneration means something to all of Medway’s people.

Alan has been an Accredited Peer since 2003 and works extensively for the LGA across many local authorities.

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.

The Front Line Services division provides essential services for our customers and residents, such as Waste, Safer Communities, Highways and Transport.

Our Culture and Community division supports our residents with high quality housing provision, engagement with sports and leisure, and offers an outstanding tourism and heritage experience for residents and visitors.

The Regeneration division is key to delivering our monumental regeneration programme and our £170m HIF programme of investment, unlocking the potential of the Peninsula.

The Communications and Marketing Team is responsible for promoting Medway to external and internal audiences.

Medway has a rich heritage and a great future, and is one of the most promising growth areas in the UK. With our Castles, Cathedral, Historic Dockyard and connections with Dickens; with our fast train connections to London and Europe, our four universities and vibrant and growing economy, Medway has something for everyone, positioned midpoint between the capital and the continent. Richard is determined that Medway will fulfil its potential as a leading waterfront university city.

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.

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.

Amanda Cottrell

Visit Kent

Amanda was educated in this country and in Europe, followed by the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts. Her early career was as an artist, working for Walt Disney briefly in California! She married in 1967 and moved to Challock in Kent. During the next twenty years, as well as working as an artist and farming, she brought up her four children. Amanda was widowed in 1996, and now has ten grandchildren. She was made High Sheriff of Kent in 2006 and was awarded the OBE for services to Kent in 2011. Amanda was a magistrate for 23 years, as well as Chairman of her Parish Council. She holds an Honorary Fellowship of Canterbury Christ Church University and an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law from the University of Kent. She also served for three years as a Director of VisitEngland.

Patron of Visit Kent, Amanda Cottrell is a Deputy Lieutenant of Kent, a Kent Ambassador as well as a Trustee of Canterbury Cathedral and the Godinton House Preservation Trust. She is Chairman of both the Diocese of Canterbury Communities and Partnerships Framework and the Churches Working Together Partnership. Amanda is Patron of Produced in Kent and the Caldecott Foundation, co-Patron of the Strode Park Foundation and of the Maidstone Museum as well as the Director of a small bus company which serves the rural areas of Kent. She is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers, and a Freeman of the City of London and the City of Canterbury. She is also Patron of the Ellenor Foundation and a Medway Champion.

Amanda has worked closely over many years with the rural and agricultural sector in Kent, and this remains extremely important to her.

David Wornham

Passenger Services Director - Southeastern Railway

David is the Passenger Services Director for Southeastern Railway and is delighted to be a member of the Medway place board. With nearly thirty years experience in rail with it all beginning at Chatham station, and then through various roles in Customer Service, Operations and Service Delivery across different service groups, Gatwick Express, Heathrow Express and London Overground David has seen how the railway plays such a vital part to the areas business, community and tourism.

Growing up in Dulwich South London where he married his wife Gail he then moved to Kent in 1991 and began a family, and has lived in Walderslade, Lordswood and for the last seven years Rochester. Both his children Zoe and Ross were born in All Saints hospital Medway which of course is no longer there, in fact the church in Dulwich David and Gail got married in burnt down, David is not sure what this all means!! David’s hobbies are watching his boyhood club Crystal Palace where he is season ticket holder, and cruise holidays.

David and his Family have falling in love with Medway and Kent, his daughter Zoe is a British Transport Police Officer, his wife Gail works with children with learning difficulties and his son Ross plays football at semi-professional level, all in the local area. For David to be able to bring his professional work and his love of Medway to the board is a wonderful opportunity.

Geraldine Allinson

Director for Iliffe Media Group Ltd

Geraldine has worked within the news media industry at board level for most of her career. For 13 years she was executive Chairman of the KM Media Group which serves the people and communities of Kent through local newspapers, KentOnline, kmfm, KMTV and social media. In October 2019 her role within the group changed to that of director for Iliffe Media Group Ltd (the parent company of KM).

In addition to her Iliffe role Geraldine is a director of the RadioCentre and the News Media Association representing commercial radio and local news media respectively at a national level. She also works with Kent-based organisations like Safer Kent; the Canterbury and District Recorder (newspapers for the blind); Chatham Historic Dockyard and the Heart of Kent Hospice in various roles to help them achieve their aims – activities range from support and fundraising to a full trustee role.

Geraldine is a Non-Executive Director of the PA Group, a Governor of Mascalls Academy in Paddock Wood, and has recently become a Trustee of Acorns Read and Grow.

Geraldine is a Kent Ambassador with Kent County Council. She is also a Deputy Lieutenant for Kent.