Trustees

Overall management is the responsibility of the Cotswold Friends Board, which comprises a Chair and up to 9 Trustees. The Board meets a minimum of 6 times a year. Specifically, the Board is responsible for taking decisions on the strategic direction of the Charity, approving major expenditure, major developments and, through the Chair, giving support and supervision to the Chief Executive.

Geoff Benn

Geoff Benn

Chair

Geoff has spent all his working life in service businesses, firstly in the hospitality sector and then for almost 30 years at a senior level in the health and social care system.

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After training and working in many of the finest hotels in the UK and then opening his our own award winning hotel in North Devon, Geoff then became a specialist in creating new models of care. Often working across both the public and private sectors he was involved in delivering innovative commercial projects (including the building and construction of assets), change management (including the re-design of systems of work), and strategy (working at a local and national level). Geoff retired from full time work in 2014 and now has a portfolio Non-Executive Director career. He is a keen amateur chef and enjoys fine food and wine (particularly from the New World), travel and watching most sports. He is also an Accredited Humanist Celebrant leading non-religious celebrations on a regular basis. He has been married to Helen for over 42 years and has two grown up daughters.

Christopher Ridgers, FCII, MBA

Christopher Ridgers, FCII, MBA

Governance

During his career Chris held a number of general insurance leadership roles across a variety of disciplines and organisations. These roles included leading the team which insured the second largest household insurance account in the UK and being a director of a subsidiary of a major insurance company.

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He has held a number of Insurance Institute roles, including that of the last ever President of the Insurance Institute of Truro and joint President of the Plymouth & Cornwall Insurance Institute. Since becoming self-employed in 2009 he served a term as a Cornwall Councillor, including chairing the Children, Education and Families Scrutiny Committee and being the Cabinet member for Economic Development. He was a member of the Cornwall Council Pensions Committee and was also involved in a substantial overhaul of the Council’s governance arrangements. He has had a number of charitable roles, including chairman of Victim Support Cornwall and trustee for Cornwall Rural Community Council. He was a governor of two schools: Westbourne Primary School, Bradford and Falmouth School, Cornwall, the latter including during its conversion to an academy. Since relocating to Gloucestershire in 2015 he has been a town councillor for 18 months, including a period as chairman. Chis works part-time in insurance quality standards. Leisure activities include current affairs, an allotment and practising a stoic approach to life.

Diane Bell

Diane Bell

Health

Diane is a retired nurse who has worked in several clinical areas such as Intensive Care, Coronary Care, the Outpatient Department and A&E. She has most recently worked with the mental health charity MIND.

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Prior to that she was employed as a Support Worker with Stonham Housing, supporting mental health clients in the community. At present she is a Carer Respite volunteer with Cotswold Friends and was a member of the Volunteer Steering Group. Diane is qualified as both an Integrative Counsellor and a Cruse Bereavement Counsellor, although doesn’t currently practice. She was also a parent governor at the local Primary School for 8 years with the last two years as Chair. Diane and her husband moved to this area from Hampshire in 2018. She has a schnauzer called Jeff, enjoys travel, gardening, reading, sewing and knitting and has been known to bake a cake!

Cheryl Ewing

Cheryl Ewing

Statutory Services

Cheryl has spent the majority of her working life in the Health Service in a range of organisations/sectors including Acute, Voluntary and Private and now works in Commissioning as Locality Manager to support the recently formed Primary Care Networks.

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Although Cheryl currently works full-time in the Health Service and enjoys meeting the challenges of an ever-evolving environment, she believes the Voluntary Sector has a key role to play in Health Service changes. The role of Trustee at Cotswold Friends has given Cheryl an opportunity to work directly with the Voluntary Sector and contribute to the wellbeing of the organisation. Cheryl lives in Cheltenham and has been married to Anthony for over 40 years with a grown up son who also works in the Health Service. Cheryl doesn’t sit still for long and enjoys walking their mini schnauzer called Baffle when not at work. She also enjoys holidaying to places with a history to explore rather than sitting on the beach!

Gary Selwyn

Gary Selwyn

Cirencester

Gary has lived in Cirencester for over 30 years and recently retired from work. Gary is an experienced Town and District Councillor having represented the Watermoor and St Michael’s Wards in Cirencester. For the last decade of his career he worked for a Children’s Charity called “Break” creating an area of 24 shops.

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This was a fun hands-on role with Gary undertaking everything from site-finding, management recruitment, finding volunteers and even shopfitting the shops. Most of his working life was in retail with roles in Operations, IT, Buying, HR and Logistics for many high street names including Marks and Spencer, WHSmith and Woolworth.Gary has always enjoyed volunteering, including coaching a rugby team, chairing a local community group, co-ordinating a COVID response team, working with Cotswold Volunteers and most recently signing up as a volunteer driver for Cotswold Friends.

Gary currently holds two other Trustee positions for the Cirencester Civic Society and the Bingham Library Trust as well as several executive positions for the Cotswold Liberal Democrats. He has two children who live and work in London and one granddaughter and is especially interested in social history, art, music, politics and the London Underground. Gary believes in trying to make a difference and sees joining Cotswold Friends as a great way to continue doing this.

Asad Noorani

Asad Noorani

Treasurer

Asad is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. After qualifying as a chartered accountant, he spent 15 years working in industry and is now a director and shareholder of local Accountancy firm Tayabali Tomlin.

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Two further decades in private practice have enabled Asad to utilise his detailed and varied experience to provide a unique perspective on all aspects of business and personal finance. Asad is involved with a large and diverse range of clients and always available at the end of a phone or face to face to help. He specialises in personal tax and unincorporated entities and deals with the firm’s administration requirements.

A fan of most sports, Asad played cricket, rugby and hockey in his younger days and is now an avid skier. He has lived nearly all his life in the UK, but his family hails from India via East Africa. Asad’s grandfather, who was practising law in Zanzibar, met Gandhi in 1930 - sadly a little before his time!