The Directors 2017-03-25T12:40:40+00:00

The Trustees of The Burton at Bideford

Now that the Burton is a registered charity, we are governed by a board of volunteer Trustees. They all have extensive business, public sector, finance, retail and art administration experience.

Judith Gentry
Judith Gentry
Judith’s initial career was in the retail sector for Debenhams PLC where she held a senior executive position. She has a successful track record of creating and implementing profitable customer service initiatives and was awarded the Queens Award for Enterprise Innovation in 2001.
Judith has strong coaching skills and, after working as a freelance Retail Consultant in Europe, Judith developed a third career as a psychotherapist. She works in private practice as well as being an Associate Counsellor for ‘New Leaf Life Design’, and wellbeing services provider based in Somerset.
Stephen Harding
Stephen Harding
Stephen has spent his whole career working in local government in Finance and General Management. He worked for local authorities in the southwest before coming to Torridge in 2008. He spent five years as Chief Accountant at Torridge District Council, including being the Statutory Financial Officer, until his retirement in 2013.
He now indulges his passion for gardening, voluntary work at RHS Rosemoor and being chair of his local Gardener’s Club. He paints watercolours too.
Nick Bigwood
Nick Bigwood
Nick recently finished working after 40 years in the private, public and not for profit sectors. He spent six years as General Manager of the world’s first hospice for children in Oxford and set up the first patient Advice and Liaison service (PALS) in Buckinghamshire NHS Trust. Nick has volunteered with charities all of his life as a Trustee, Treasurer, Director and Chair. He loves the arts, sport, vinyl music, photography and his family.
Christine (Chris) Erwood
Christine (Chris) Erwood
Chris was raised in Surrey, but fell in love with the West Country’s beautiful countryside so moved here with her husband and daughter to North Devon in 1995. She has spent her career in the taxation profession with HMRC, Arthur Andersen and Halliburton.
Chris is a chartered tax advisor and is an expert in the specialist field of estate and trust (onshore /offshore) taxation. She acts as a consultant to the professional forum of solicitors, accountants and financial advisors. She’s keen to “give back” to her local community, which is why she’s enthusiastic in her support of the Burton.
Cathy O’Grady
Cathy O’Grady
After 20 years of running not-for-profit organisations, primarily in war zones, Cathy recently moved to North Devon into a career in family and child law. Her time overseas included postings as Country Director for organisations in challenging places such as Afghanistan, Sudan and Lebanon. Cathy has extensive experience in project design and management, strategic and financial planning, and fundraising.
Alongside her work Cathy loves design, photography and art. She is happy to be using her fundraising expertise to help secure the future of The Burton.
Gordon Thomson
Gordon Thomson
Gordon grew up in Glasgow and studied at Aberdeen School of Art and Strathclyde University. A people development expert, Gordon has held senior commercial positions in local government and retail and is now a self-employed HR consultant. He has volunteered as a helpline listener for Stonewall and loves the art The Burton exhibits so happily uses his professional skills to contribute back to the local community.

Burton Enterprises

Simone Kesseler (Chair)
Simone Kesseler (Chair)
Simone grew up in North Devon, and went to the University of Birmingham.
She lived in France and studied in Italy, worked briefly in her native Devon before moving to London to start a career in international media. She became a Director of Cornhill Publications in 1988, and CEO of Sterling Publishing Group in 1996, one of the first female CEO’s of a market listed public company in the UK. In 2004, after the birth of her son, she set up her corporate growth consultancy, Ignite Corporate Development. In 2012, Simone set up a local buying collective in North Devon, with a mission to help develop a sustainable local economy.
Celia Merrill
Celia MerrillCompany Secretary and Trustee Administrator
Relocation from Oxfordshire to the Devon coast has revitalised Celia’s career, after working in healthcare, education and administration. She trained as a Registered Nurse, achieving the role of Matron, and combined this with her complementary health Nutritional Therapist and Iridologist work. In Devon she’s been Secretary for Read Easy, Bideford & Gt Torrington branch and a Trustee of Appledore Book Festival.
Celia has long had a love of the arts and, as a member of The Cholsey Pantoloons, has been a dancing dwarf and one of Three Little Maids. The art of linguistic mischief helped Celia when she joined the Appledore Writers Group, and she now writes poetry and prose.
Alessia Sheldon
Alessia Sheldon
With 15 years experience in high end London retail and design, Alessia arrived in North Devon on a mission to find a new life by the coast, and rewarding work with depth and integrity. After cutting her teeth at Damien Hirst’s 11 The Quay in Ilfracombe, followed by the opening of two of her own cafes, Alessia was introduced to the work of North Devon Against Domestic Abuse and re:store charity shops were born – offering aspirational fashion at affordable prices in modern design-led interiors. Alessia attributes her successes to being brave, having hearty ethics, and making work fun.
Some of her favourite artists are Barbara Hepworth, Annie Leibovitz and Martin Parr.