Our board

Helen O’Kane (Co-Chair)

helen okaneHelen has managed Puzzlewood for nearly 7 years and grown the business from a relatively small attraction to one of the leading attractions in the area. The business has gone from strength to strength and attracted worldwide attraction with Star Wars, helping to put the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley on the map. Helen also owns Forest of Dean Adventure with its Adventure Ropes, Archery and the Climbing Tower at Beechenhurst. Read more


Yvette Farrell (Co-Chair)

YvetteYvette worked in Horticulture for 16 years gaining extensive plant knowledge, the associations with food and applied my knowledge within the corporate world. She secured the contract for supply of floral decorations to Number 10 Downing Street, Houses of Parliament and all the major UK airports with a portfolio value of £1.2million. Yvette opened Harts Barn Cookery School in 2011 and has through recession, developed a thriving business offering cookery and dining experiences and developed ‘A Taste of the Forest’ – a cuisine based on ingredients from local suppliers and natural products (wild boar, wild garlic and more). Read more


Gill Hands (Vice-Chair)

gill handsGill has over 30 years of experience in running a hotel and leisure business. Prior to running the family business Gill was employed by Crest Hotels as a hotel Manager. Tauber Hands Ltd was set up in 1986 and has operated four hotels and a holiday cottage leisure complex over the years. Gill has been operating at The Speech House Hotel since March 2010 and is actively involved in promoting the Forest of Dean as a destination for leisure and commerce.  Read more



 Liz Marshall (Treasurer)

liz marshallI have lived in the area all my life having only moved away briefly to go to University before returning to live and work. I started Inspire2Adventure along with my husband Paul offering outdoor adventure activities in 2001.  I have continued to grow and develop Inspire2Adventure to become a multi-activity outdoor adventure provider offering visitors the opportunity to experience the adventurous side of the area.  Along the way, I have learnt how important it is for a small business to collaborate with others, embrace social media & digital marketing, the importance of networking, and to effectively manage finance. Read more

Francesca Newell

francesca newellFrancesca is the owner of a luxury glamping site, Seven Hills Hideaway, which was set up in 2015 on her grandparent’s family farm on the outskirts of Abergavenny, Monmouthshire. Although Francesca is relatively new to the tourism industry she has created a successful business and was proud to be shortlisted for the Monmouthshire Business Awards in 2016 under the category Hospitality, Travel & Tourism.
Francesca is a qualified Health & Safety Consultant and is a Chartered member of the Chartered body for health and safety (IOSH). Prior to starting her business Francesca was a H&S Advisor within Cardiff City Council and still provides support to businesses throughout the country on a consultative basis. Francesca has recently become an assistant board member of the Visit Abergavenny & District Tourist Association, and she is also a member of the Brecon Beacons Tourism Association as well as other local networking groups. Read more

Lynda Searancke

Lynda Portrait 1701x1693After the spin of a pin on a map over 30 years ago my two sons and I arrived in the Forest of Dean. We knew no one. What a fortuitous pin that was as the Forest of Dean people turned out to be both friendly and supportive. Since then three local businesses have been created and all still employing and thriving today. One of which is Forest Barn Holidays which began with a single self-catering barn growing over the last 18 years to 11 units over two sites. Hence, with each year gaining further knowledge of the self-catering industry and customer aspirations. Read more


Mark Terry Lush

Mark Terry-Lush, co founder and managing director of Honey Picture by Clint Randall www.pixelprphotography.co.ukMark has been a member of the board since 2014 and a member of the Association for about 10 years running a self-catering business in Chaxhill; outside the area he owns a self-catering business in France.  He is a former press photographer and today runs an international communications agency with offices in London, USA and China. Read more


Nick Penny

nicke pennyNick is the owner of Nick Penny Event Services – a complete solution for all aspects of event design, production and marketing.  Nick’s ethos is one of ‘bringing the pieces together’ using his knowledge of the market place, strategic supplier relationships and combined purchasing power to provide a fully managed event solution to clients from small private businesses, local authorities and corporations. Examples of Nick’s events include Coleford Music Festival (co-director), Coleford Busking Festival and many of the Coleford Town Centre events including the Big Screen Weekend for Wimbledon held in 2016. Read more

Phil Kiernan

Phil KiernanOriginally from Dublin, I entered the Hospitality Industry in 1985 and purchased The Farmers Boy Inn in Longhope in September 2000. We have been the winner of National & Regional Awards over the last 16 plus years. Set up MadAboutPies.co.uk in 2011. The business is an online business as well as selling to Restaurants, Pubs & Catering Businesses. MadAboutPies has won over 15 National British Pie Awards. Set up Kiernan Properties in 2016. Still developing the business having purchased 3 properties in July of 2016. I am passionate about The Forest of Dean and its local economy. The Farmers Boy Inn is at the forefront of pushing & working with small business and using local produce whenever possible. The Farmers Boy Inn is also passionate about the youth culture in the Forest of Dean through education and employment. Read more

Sarah Orchard

sarah orchard1Sarah is a stalwart of the marketing profession of over 25 years – a Chartered Marketer, who worked for 16 years in the travel industry for brands like Kuoni, Hogg Robinson business travel, and Avis car rental. For the last 10 years, she has been working as a strategic marketing consultant advising small businesses in particular those in the tourism, leisure and lifestyle sectors on how to get better returns from their marketing efforts. Read more