Staff & Associates


Justin Sargent OBE, 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. Justin was recognised with an OBE for services to the community in Somerset in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in June 2021.

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. Email: Justin


Grants & Programmes Team:

Val Bishop, Programmes Director

Val joined SCF in July 2017 as Programmes Director, with responsibility for managing the Programmes and Grants Team 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 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. Email: Val


Andy Ridgewell, Senior 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. Andy is a Trustee for Spark Somerset.

Away from the office, Andy likes to get muddy in the Somerset countryside. Email: Andy


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. Email: Kirsty


Ben Banks, Programmes Manager 




Ben joined the Foundation in October 2021 as Programmes Manager and has a particular passion for supporting children and young people. His career has been focused around working to help others, in both the charitable, health and arts sectors. Before joining Somerset Community Foundation he led a team of Trusts and Grants Fundraisers at Barnardo’s and brings with him a wealth of experience in innovative project development and philanthropic relationship management.

Alongside his role at Somerset Community Foundation, Ben volunteers as a Visitor for the Henry Smith Charity and loves meeting the passionate people working to make a difference to their local communities. He enjoys walking in woodlands and along canals in blustery weather, going to live jazz gigs with his partner Micky and eating delicious food. Email: Ben


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. Email: Peter


Laurence Stevens, Grants Administrator

Laurence re-joined our team in September 2020 as Grants Administrator, having helped us previously with the administration of the Surviving Winter 2019/20 campaign. Born and bred in Somerset, Laurence worked at Strode College for a number of years as a receptionist and then in administration, before joining the SCF team.

Laurence enjoys walks in the countryside, writing music and playing guitar with his family, and socialising with friends down the pub. Email: Laurence


Communications and Development Team

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. Email: Laura


Kelly Hall, Development Manager 






Kelly joined the Foundation in February 2021. She brings a wealth of experience in development and fundraising, and working with small and medium sized charities. Kelly studied Business at Cardiff University before starting her career working in the third sector. Most recently Kelly has worked at the Genesis Trust and Wells Cathedral. 

Alongside her part time role, Kelly offers consultancy, mentoring and networking opportunities to fundraisers and charities across the South West. When not working, Kelly enjoys sewing and spending time outside with her two young sons. Email: Kelly    


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’ Liaison & 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, fine dining and the occasional cider down the pub with friends. Her two cats, Penny and Doris, allow her to provide them with sustenance and shelter. Email: Sue


Operations and Finance Team

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 providing secretarial support to the Board of Trustees.

Mary studied Social Work at the University of Texas and later received a Master’s Degree in Human Rights from Birkbeck College in London. She married a Somerset fella in 2011, and together they're renovating their 1980s home to bring it into the 21st Century. She enjoys spending time with her two young boys and hunting for bargains at antique auctions. Email: Mary


Praseeda Pramodh, Finance Manager





Praseeda Pramodh joined the team in 2020 to manage our finances. She completed her ACCA in England and holds a Masters degree from India. Praseeda moved to the west country from Basingstoke in 2010. She has worked for Sherborne boys school, Debenhams Foundation and Capita.

Praseeda lives with her husband and daughter and enjoys long walks, gardening and Indian classical music. Email: Praseeda

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. Email: Carolyn

Somerset Community Foundation Associates

Our Associates provide us with flexible and specialist support on specific projects:

Mark Cotton - Social Investment Consultant. Email:



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