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

Annah Todman

annah todmanAnnah is the owner of Wanderlust Camper Co – campervans for hire, based in Dymock, Gloucestershire, who are entering their third busy season, aiding many family trips across the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley and further afield. With over 20 years’ experience in marketing, Annah has been able to apply her experience to strengthen and grow her business, and proud to be finalists in two awards since in her first 18 months of trading. 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

Leanne Pogson

leanne pogsonMy life has come full circle. I was brought up in the tourism industry, my parents owning hotels and restaurants UK wide. My very first business was born out of the tourism industry lighting the entrepreneurial spark that I still have many years later. I have lived on the edge of the Forest of Dean for 20 years spending over 25 years learning my craft as an employee in differing industries. I founded my business in 2017 and now run my creation, Leap HR Ltd from an office base in Cinderford. Read more

 

 

Louise Lawrence

louise lawrenceGeneral Manager – Carlauren Lifestyle Resorts. Dean Valley Manor, formerly Lindors Hotel was purchased by Carlauren Group in August 2018 from the Christian Guild and they have plans for complete refurbishment, additional accommodation and a spa facility. After visiting the area regularly as a child to visit family, Louise moved to the area permanently in November when taking up the GM role with her young family. Drawn to the area by the countryside living but yet still having great accessibility with an abundance of attractions and amenities. Louise has been in hotel management for 15 years with mainly country house hotels, working for groups including Oxford Hotels, Macdonald Hotels, Bespoke Hotels and Hallmark Hotels. 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

 

 

Sarah Orchard

sarah orchardSarah 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 12 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. She specialises in digital marketing including websites, SEO, blogging, email marketing and social media. Read more