Although I undertake the majority of assignments personally, I occasionally work alongside colleagues with whom I have established a long and trusted working relationship with in situations where their specialist knowledge and skills can add value.

Brenda Sims

brendaI have known Brenda since we worked together at the Humberside Co-operative Development Agency (HCDA) in the late 1980s/early 90s. Brenda studied economics, social science and statistics to post graduate level and spent eight years from 1967 to 1977 as a full time lecturer in economics, maths and statistics at the University of Hull. But it is through Brenda’s many and various roles in the voluntary sector that I know her best, both as a volunteer activist and paid worker. At HCDA, Brenda and I worked together as Business Advisors, developing and supporting worker owned and controlled enterprises.

Following four years as a freelance consultant in the sector, Brenda spent 6 years from 2001 with the Humberside Learning Consortium, latterly as the Manager of the “Change-Up” Voluntary Sector Infrastructure Programme. Before ‘retirement’ in 2008, Brenda spent a year as a Project Manager with the Humber & Wolds Rural Community Council since which time I have been quick to make the best of her knowledge as a statistician and her experience commissioning and evaluating voluntary sector projects. Brenda is a shrewd analyst and skilled evaluator I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to draw on her academic ability and voluntary sector experience.

Charlie Cattell

charlie When I first came across Charlie Cattell in 1986, he already had a reputation as one of the foremost authorities on legal structures for not-for-profit organisations in the country. At that time, he worked for the Industrial Common Ownership Movement (ICOM) in Leeds heading up their Legal and Policy Office.

For the last twenty years he’s worked as a freelance consultant specialising in legal structures, charity law, corporate administration and business planning. He also has extensive experience with mergers, consortia and collaborative ventures. Underpinning the work I do facilitating partnership working is my ability to call on Charlie’s unrivalled knowledge to craft the technical side of things, ensuring that the aspirations of the groups I work with can be realised through legally robust governing documents.

Since establishing himself freelance in 1996, Charlie has carved out a specialist niche in the voluntary, charitable and social enterprise sectors. Almost uniquely, he has the ability to write sound and accurate technical documents that are wholly accessible to the lay reader and jargon-free, making sense of what can be an impenetrable subject. Charlie is also a skilled trainer with a similar ability to make sense of highly technical material, delivering it in an engaging and accessible style.

Ian McMillan

ianMy first encounter with Ian McMillan came about when I was Programme Director for Common Purpose in Hull in 1996. Since that time, I have had the privilege of working with him on many occasions in a wide variety of settings. In his career as a poet, musician, writer, raconteur and broadcaster Ian has worked in schools, theatres, community centres and railway trains amongst many other exotic locations. He is well known for his characteristic Barnsley accent and (as a reviewer for ‘The Independent’ aptly described it) “a weather eye for what’s daft”. He has a wonderful ability to make people laugh out loud with his almost surreal slant on life, but entertains without offence or taking a cheap laugh at anybody’s expense. This means I can work confidently with him with any audience in a situation where the intensity of strategic planning or regeneration just needs livening up a bit. ian-2 I was very flattered when Ian insisted that I include him as an Associate (‘I’ve never been an Associate before’) particularly as he’s already Visiting Professor at Bolton University and Honorary Doctor at Sheffield Hallam University, North Staffs Polytechnic and Huddersfield University (‘you can call me Doctor Doctor Doctor McMillan’).

Sadly, Ian’s success and his profile as a TV show panellist and Radio Broadcaster means his diary is very full and we don’t get the opportunity to work together as much as I’d like. But it does mean that when we do, I appreciate it all the more.

Benjamin F. Cat

benjaminBenjamin F Cat has been my longest and most trusted Associate. We work together extremely closely and I have always found him a most attentive listener and supportive colleague. He’s always on –message and is wholly approving of all my work. He does have his limitations though; he refuses to answer the phone, open the mail or indeed carry out any routine office management functions. His IT and keyboard skills are questionable and despite walking purposefully over the keyboard using a full ‘four-paw’ touch typing technique, he has managed to produce only gibberish. It takes me far longer to produce work of that quality.

He sleeps most of the time he’s in the office (often inside the printer) and when he is awake, persistently demands food and/or attention. As this is the limit of his remuneration requests however, I find it an acceptable arrangement. Benjamin has been known to alarm clients by leaping up onto the office desk in the middle of Skype conversations which those of a more nervous disposition have found somewhat disconcerting. He regards any office telephone conversation as a signal to jump onto my knee, digging in his claws to gain the necessary momentum and puzzling callers with the resulting reaction (what was that scream…?). In addition to offering moral support, comfort and counselling he’s proven extremely effective at keeping down the office rodent population.  In short, I don’t know what I’d do without him.


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