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
Fiona is our newest Patron and we are delighted to have her on board. A full Bio will follow shortly.
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 Operating Officer of the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), a post he has held since December 2015. Prior to this appointment, he was 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.
Marc is a qualified Chartered Accountant and a partner at Azets Accountants and Business Advisors based in Maidstone. He joined the Young Lives Foundation in 2014 to bring additional financial support and knowledge to the Board and to assist the CEO, Stephen Gray, during a key growth period for the Charity. Marc also chairs the Finance and Risk Sub Committee.
Marilyn has worked as an independent consultant for education and children’s services since 2009. She recently supported a number of local authorities in reviewing and redesigning the services they commission and provide for schools and vulnerable children and has been the Independent Chair of a Local Safeguarding Children’s Board.
In 2014, Marilyn was part of high profile review team commissioned to advise a top independent school in their safeguarding practice following a number of historical child abuse allegations. She is the Chair of a school governing body in Maidstone, Kent who run two secondary academies and one primary school as well as their safeguarding lead. She previously worked for many years for Kent County Council as Director for Strategy, Policy and Performance for Children, Families and Education and has been a Director and Trustee for two other Academy Trusts, including a Swedish sponsored group.
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.
Ray is a former senior banker and barrister, having worked for leading international banks over a lengthy career in the financial sector. He has developed strong business, management and financial skills which he hopes to apply in his roles with YLF. Ray is Chair of the Governance and Compliance Sub Committee and also takes on the role of voluntary Company Secretary.
Ray is passionate about helping those in our communities including those who have learning and autistic spectrum disabilities and carer responsibilities. He has over ten years’ board experience in the UK and in his native South Africa with organisations caring for children and adults with disabilities providing oversight and guidance in a finance, risk and strategy capacity. He lives with his wife, Margaret, in Tunbridge Wells and has a learning disabled son Andrew, who attends Aspens Charities Day Services and is in supported living accommodation in Tonbridge. Their daughter Megan is an architect in London.
With a strong background in web development, marketing and user experience, Nick has worked with various organisations, to help improve their business processes, web and marketing strategies.
He has worked as a Web (user experience) Designer and Digital Account Manager in the membership and not-for-profit sectors, and has a real passion for using design to benefit and impact people in a meaningful way.
His expertise includes strategy and target audience research, stemming from a love for behavioural psychology, and gets excited by working with people to help them achieve their goals.
He was happy to come aboard with the YLF as he fully believes in our cause, and is keen to see what kind of a difference we can all make together.
In his spare time, he rarely likes to sit still and enjoys plenty of activity; boxing, climbing, exercising and networking with other people within his industry.
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.
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. She was delighted to be asked to join YLF as a trustee and thoroughly enjoys any opportunity to meet and interact with the young people.
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