Justin Sargent, Chief Executive
Justin joined Somerset Community Foundation in 2005 bringing considerable experience in community development and grant-making. He previously worked with small non-governmental organisations in Lesotho, on environmental and social initiatives in the Countryside Agency in the UK and had led the Countryside Stewardship scheme in Herefordshire and Lancashire. In 2017 he was awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Voluntary Sector Management from CASS Business School, and in 2018 Justin joined the Board of Trustees at the Nelson Trust.
He is married to Sally and they have three young children, all Somerset born and bred. In his spare time, Justin enjoys photography, films and (occasionally) suffers bouts of exercise.
Mary Hancock, Operations Director
Mary joined SCF in May 2013 and is responsible for managing the delivery of our business plan, monitoring our financial performance and supporting the team to provide effective services to our clients. She also leads on some aspects of business development.
Mary studied Social Work at the University of Texas and later received a Master’s Degree in Human Rights from Birkbeck College. She married a West Country lad in 2011, when they traded the trendy streets of East London for country pursuits in Somerset. Together they're renovating their 1980s home to bring it into the 21st Century when their two little boys let them.
Laura Blake, Development Director
Laura joined the Foundation in January 2019 as Development Director, with the aim of spearheading the growth of local giving in Somerset. Laura’s role sees her work closely with families, businesses and organisations helping them make inspiring and impactful gifts to causes they are passionate about. Laura brings a wealth of experience in Development; she previously worked as Head of Philanthropy at the national education charity, Teach First.
Laura studied Philosophy at the University of Bristol and started her career working for the University’s Development and Alumni Relations team, before moving to London to join Barnardo’s and The Prince’s Trust. Laura is also a trustee of Pathways to Independence, a Kent-based charity that supports homeless people and ex-offenders. In her spare time, Laura enjoys weightlifting, walking in the countryside, and going to music festivals with her DJ husband.
Val Bishop, Programmes Director
Val joined SCF in July 2017 as Programmes Director, with responsibility for managing and delivering the Hinkley Point C Community Fund. She originally trained as a teacher, spending time teaching in Russia, the EU as well as in a variety of schools in the South West of England, before moving into the third sector. She has worked for a number of different organisations including an International Development charity with programmes in Tanzania and Ghana as well as extensive education programmes in the UK. Her most recent role was managing a Charitable Foundation attached to a school in North Devon.
Val has two very young children and enjoys volunteering for local charities, dabbling in the odd bit of art and writing, and running around muddy battlefields at the weekend with Civil War re-enactment society, The Sealed Knot.
Andy Ridgewell, Programmes Manager
Andy joined Somerset Community Foundation in January 2016. He grew up in Somerset and then studied history at SOAS and Addis Ababa University. Andy has previously worked for various non-governmental organisations in Ethiopia and Tanzania, and more recently for two local community organisations in Dorset.
Away from the office, Andy likes to get muddy in the Somerset countryside.
Kirsty Campbell, Programmes Manager
From volunteering at Frome Community Education and Citizens Advice, Kirsty moved into the roles of Finance Administrator and Debt Adviser at Citizens Advice Mendip before joining Somerset Community Foundation as Administrator in March 2016. She became Programmes Manager in April 2019. Kirsty has also worked as a Field Archaeologist, having a BSc in Archaeology from University College London and an MSc in Geoarchaeology from the University of Reading. She has shared her enthusiasm for archaeology with pupils at her children’s primary school and hopes one day to be able to join an excavation as a volunteer.
Kirsty is a member of the Twin Research project at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital Trust and enjoys discovering the contribution this research has on medical advances. Kirsty moved to Somerset in 2006 and grew up in neighbouring Wiltshire.
Vicky Dauncey, Programmes Manager
Vicky joined SCF initially in 2018 before rejoining the team in 2019 as Programmes Manager, focusing on the Somerset Social Enterprise Fund. Vicky’s background is in species conservation and her career has taken her around the globe, including years spent living and working in the jungles of Sierra Leone and Indonesia. Vicky has a wealth of experience in fund and grant management, monitoring and evaluation, and organisational development. Alongside her part-time role at SCF she works in orangutan conservation, protecting Sumatran orangutans and their rainforest habitat. Having grown up in the county, Vicky is delighted to be part of the SCF team, working to build a stronger Somerset.
In her spare time Vicky spends lots of time walking and running with her two dogs, enjoys producing weird and wonderful home-grown vegetables, and may never quite finish renovating her house.
Peter Stolze, Programmes Manager (HPC Community Fund)
Peter joined SCF in January 2020 as Programmes Manager, supporting delivery of the Hinkley Point C Community Fund. He began his working life as a chef in Oxford, before returning to Somerset for a calmer way of life, moving into a Community Learning role, where he forged partnerships with community organisations that develop skills in those furthest from learning and in greatest need of support.
On weekends he will mostly be found curled up with a book or testing out a new recipe (with varying degrees of success). Occasionally he can be found in the woods bouncing off trees head first at a local Airsoft (think: paintballing without the paint!) site.
Sue Wheeler, Communications and Events Manager
Sue re-joined our team in June 2017 having previously worked with us as Marketing and Events Executive in 2014. Sue is responsible for managing the delivery of our communications, PR and events. Away from the Foundation, she organises the Emerging Talent Competition for Glastonbury Festival, and also enjoys working at WOMAD festival every year, co-ordinating the Artists’ Check-In area backstage. Sue previously worked as Marketing Officer at Strode College and before that dealt with all manner of public enquiries at the Glastonbury Festival office. From 1995 – 2007 she ran her busy retail shop The Gosh Trading Company Ltd. in Wells.
Outside of work Sue enjoys watching live shows and stand-up comedy, films, and the occasional cider down the pub with friends. Her two cats, Penny and Doris, allow her to provide them with sustenance and shelter.
Janet Burdett, Finance Manager
Janet has worked in accountancy for almost 30 years and joined the team officially in 2019, having worked freelance for SCF since 2012. After qualifying with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants she became an auditor within their Charity Department. Janet now runs her own small practice offering outsourced bookkeeping and accountancy services alongside working with local accountancy practices and tax advisors.
Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her children, watching live bands and, during her calmer moments, practices yoga and meditation.
Carolyn Phimister, Finance and Office Administrator
Carolyn joined SCF in 2019 as Finance and Office Administrator. Originally from West Yorkshire, she studied business at university in Lancashire. Previously, Carolyn worked for 12 years for the Citizens Advice, supervising advisors, training volunteers and liaising with other local agencies. She moved to Somerset in 2008 with her husband and two sons and has held financial roles both within education and the church of England.
Outside of work, Carolyn loves spending time with family and friends especially if films, comedy and food are involved.
Somerset Community Foundation Associates
Our Associates provide us with flexible and specialist support on specific projects:
Mark Cotton - Social Investment Consultant. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alison Baker - VCSE Strategic Project Coordinator, in partnership with Somerset County Council. Email: email@example.com