Our Trustees and Ambassadors voluntarily support the charity to help us develop whilst sharing a passion for making a difference and spreading the good word of our work.
Our President, Patrons, Trustees and Ambassadors voluntarily act as representatives for our charity using their extensive networks across the county and beyond. Sharing in our passion and vision for the charity, they support our events and activities, help us to raise awareness and gain additional support.
Interested in becoming a YLF Trustee: please contact us about getting on board!
President & Patrons
Clive Emson MBE President
Clive was the founding Chairman of the Young Lives Foundation and remained as a Trustee until August 2016 when he took on the ambassadorial role of President.
Clive is a well known after-dinner speaker, charity auctioneer and a Kent Ambassador. He has been one of our Independent Visitors for young people in care.
In 2017, Clive’s contribution to the county of Kent, both in terms of business and his voluntary work, was recognised when Kent County Council presented him with the Kent Invicta Award.
In 2019, Clive was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for Services to Vulnerable and Disadvantaged Young People in Kent.
Geoffrey Dearing Patron
Geoffrey is a solicitor and, although retired from private practice, he maintains an interest in a number of charities. He is a past President of the Kent Law Society and was one of the first solicitors on the initial Children’s Panel operated by the Law Society.
Geoffrey was also a founder member of the Kent Family Conciliation Service and, until recently, has been involved as a school governor, including a government appointment, and also Vice Chairman of an educational trust with a particular responsibility for safeguarding.
Prior to his role as Patron, Geoffrey was Chairman for the Young Lives Foundation for four years and has been involved in the charity for over 10 years.
Russell Race Patron
Russell is a retired stockbroker who lives in Rochester. A Deputy Lieutenant of Kent, he is the link DL for the Medway Towns. Russell has a long standing commitment to the Medway area, having been Chairman of the Chatham Maritime Trust, and also a past Senior Warden of the Rochester Bridge Trust, on which body he still serves.
Russell also chairs the Trustees of the Sir Joseph Williamson Trust, which supports the school of which he was a pupil. He was also one of YLF’s Independent Visitors for a number of years.
Fiona Sunley Patron
Bio to follow
Jo Williams Patron
Jo has been involved in charity work from a very young age. Her father started “Ashford Children’s Day”, a charity to help local families and, as a young girl, Jo helped with collecting the donations and encouraging local firms to either join in or ‘give’ to the charity by advertising.
From her early twenties, Jo combined her role as the mother of two boys with starting and running of several companies with a former school friend. Ultimately, she and her husband were founding directors of the Kent-based company now known as Holiday Extras. Jo retired from the company 10 years ago and has since busied herself with various projects.
When Jo stepped down as Trustee in 2021, she was delighted to be asked to join YLF as a Patron and thoroughly enjoys any opportunity to meet and interact with the young people.
We have recently welcomed pro footballer, Luis Binks, as a YLF Ambassador. Luis has grown up in Medway, Kent and went to Twydall Primary School and The Howard secondary school. He joined Tottenham Hotspur Academy at age 7 and at 16 he moved to North London and went full time. Aged 18, he left Tottenham and signed for Montreal Impact in the MLS where Thierry Henry was his manager. After a successful 6 months there he was signed by Bologna FC in Italy’s top division Serie A, but stayed in Montreal for another 6 months on loan. Once the season came to an end in Montreal he moved to Bologna in June 2021. At Bologna last year he made 15 appearances in Serie A and recently just signed a new contract to remain there until 2026. This season he is in Serie B on loan at Como FC.
“I wanted to help young people in my local area who aren’t as fortunate as others. I’m in a position where I feel I can help influence and push these children to go on and make something of themselves and if I can help contribute to their life in a positive way then I feel as though I’ve given something back.”
Katie is a singer songwriter and has been on the road performing with the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs, Scouting for Girls, Olly Murs & Paloma Faith. She is a big advocate for mental health and regularly performs and give talks in schools about her own experiences. She has performed at YLF events in the past and we are delighted to now have her on board as an Ambassador.
After welcoming British and European Championships gymnast, James Hall, to our charity events, we are delighted that James has chosen to become an Ambassador for YLF. YLF is proud to have James on board and is grateful for his support.
“I’m honoured to take on the role of Ambassador for YLF! Such an incredible charity that helps achieve effective outcomes in the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people.”
Ben Towers is one of ‘the most influential entrepreneurs on the planet’ whilst still only being 20 years old. Ben started in business aged 11 and has since successfully exited his marketing agency, invested in disruptive start-ups and inspired millions. Ben is now on a mission to change the health outcomes of his generation.
“I have been supported by YLF for several years, and I am now at University studying to become a teacher. Having been offered opportunities such as being Chairperson for their Children in Care Council and to be involved in an overseas volunteering trip to India, I feel I am in a privileged position to be a positive role model for young people and at a stage in my life where I am ready to give something back.”
Les Hutchinson Chairman
Les Hutchinson, is currently Chief Executive of the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), a post he has held since September 2020. Prior to this appointment, he was Chief Operating Officer, MCF and before that Chief Executive of the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB), a post which he held for over eight years. The MCF took over the responsibilities of the RMTGB and the other three main Masonic Charities in April 2016.
Les was born on the Wirral and at the age of 11 years moved with his family to North Wales. He now lives in East Kent with his wife Debbie and their two sons. In addition to his role at YLF Les also chairs Surrey Crossroads a charity supporting carers and the Trottiscliffe Community Group. He is also a liveryman and member of the Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers.
Ann-Marie joined YLF as a volunteer mentor in 2020 and enjoyed working with her young mentees in the community and in schools.
At another well-being charity, Spurgeons, Ann-Marie is the Head of Communications and Digital Delivery, responsible for all the charity’s internal and external communication in addition to the development of digital products and services to support families and community partners with mental health and parenting challenges.
Ann-Marie is also a qualified Integrative Counsellor and works with older teenagers and adults in her private practice and a Kent-based charity, Restore. In addition to her counselling qualification, Ann-Marie also holds a Bsc Social Sciences, an Msc in Marketing and a PGCE. In her career to date, she has enjoyed various marketing roles within the private and public sector, and also taught Marketing and Business in further, higher and adult education.
Ann-Marie lives in Tunbridge Wells with her husband, two amazing teenagers, a Greek rescue dog and two cats.
Tony Godden (Vice Chair)
Tony is a Chartered Accountant with 30 years of experience in supply chains. Acquisitions, fund raising, consultancy work for leading supermarkets, scenario planning and tax planning. He has worked for KPMG and leading plc’s in all corners of the globe with a emphasis of working in Europe.
Kathryn has been a Kent resident since 2011. She has worked for central government since 2003 in a variety of roles across the Home Office and Ministry of Justice. Currently she is Head of Mental Health Casework in HM Prison and Probation Service HQ with responsibility for making decisions in respect of restricted patients under the Mental Health Act 1983 on behalf of the Justice Secretary.
Kathryn has one daughter who is at a Kent secondary school, and she is involved in a range of voluntary activities in her local community: secretary for a local Scout group and providing a craft club at the local library.
Throughout her adult life, Kathryn has held a passion for children’s wellbeing; she is also studying to be a councillor alongside her work in the prison service and voluntary work at YLF. She believes that charities such as YLF can help individuals and benefit society greatly. She joined the board in 2023.
Iain retired from Shell International Petroleum in 2013 after some 37 years in oil trading, supply chain management and business process redesign. He is a trustee of Kidney Research UK and is also involved with other local voluntary organisations.
Having met members of the management team and learned of the vital work that the charity is doing for so many young people in Kent, Iain was delighted to be invited to become a trustee of the Young Lives Foundation.
Paddy currently works as a Residential Care Worker and completing his NVQ level 3 for Medway Council but prior to this, he was an Apprentice for The Young Lives Foundation. As a care leaver himself and experience as a service user of YLF, Paddy was able to bring depth and understanding to his role in order to support young people in care and ensure they were listened to.
As a former member of the Children in Care Council, Paddy was an advocate for over 400 young people in Medway, undertook an overseas volunteering experience in India teaching in primary schools, and succeeded in gaining Leisure Passes for all children in care to access free sports facilities, amongst many other achievements.
Paddy is the youngest member of the Board but with his care experience and passion for making a difference, he feels he is in a privileged position to bring a unique insight and new approach to the development of the Charity.
Paddy has recently become a Dad for the first time, and enjoys spending quality time with his family as well as taking part in sports such as boxing and motocross.
Sophie works as a Private Client Executive at Brachers, a firm of Solicitors in Maidstone. Sophie is also on the committee for the Kent Law Society and was pleased to joined the Young Lives Foundation Board in 2020. Sophie is Vice Chair of the Governance and Compliance Sub Committee.
Sophie has always lived in Kent and has always worked locally around Kent.
In her spare time, Sophie enjoys playing tennis and socialising with friends.
Jessica started her working career in Children’s Social Services at KCC for the CAF project. She moved into the charity sector as a PA at Kent Association for the Blind, later moving on to Demelza Hospice Care for Children as a Voluntary Services Coordinator looking after hundreds of volunteers. From here she went to the European School of Osteopathy as a PA where she started to dabble in HR and developed a love for it, realising it was a profession she wanted to pursue with a focus on employee relations.
Jessica currently works for the NHS in a consultancy capacity, helping to support a relocation and is a HR Advisor for Whitcombe HR.
Jessica has a degree in Classical and Archaeological Studies from University of Kent. She has two young daughters and lives in Bearsted with her husband Willie. Whilst on mat leave, she studied for a CIPD 3 and is now about to start a CIPD 5.
Jessica has a passion for travelling, is bit of a film buff and has a love of most music too. She was an avid drummer, but hung up her drumsticks with her youth!
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