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. Mary enjoys designing knitting patterns for her new baby boy, attempting to tame an unruly garden and surfing on the north coast of Devon.
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 a ‘project house’ which is progressing slowly 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.
Jocelyn Blacker, Programmes Manager
In the fourteen years since Jocelyn joined the Foundation she has taken on a variety of roles including Outreach Officer liaising with community groups across the county and Grants and Finance Manager. In her current role as Programmes Manager she is responsible for the promotion and delivery of the Foundation’s grants programme across Somerset and developing and leading the Raising Aspirations programme.
Jocelyn enjoys music and dancing, and is a member of a local ceilidh band.
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.
Luke Mitchell, Programmes Manager
Luke moved from Cornwall and joined Somerset Community Foundation in October 2018. He has previously worked for community foundations in both Cambridgeshire and East London. His current role involves leading on the delivery of the HPC Community Fund Small Grants Programme.
In his spare time Luke likes all things outdoors and goes camping several times a year. He enjoys boxing and his guilty pleasure is snooker.
Sue Wheeler, Communications Executive
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.
Kirsty Campbell, Administrator
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 in March 2016. 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 also 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.
Somerset Community Foundation Associates
Our Associates provide us with flexible and specialist support on specific projects;
Steve McLauchlan – Social Investment Manager. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
VCSE Strategic Project Coordinator, in partnership with Somerset County Council. Email: