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ACT Trustees

ACT is a membership organisation and a Company limited by guarantee. ACT has a Management Board of no less than eight and up to twelve individuals, who are called either Trustees, Directors, or Board Members. They are elected annually at the ACT AGM, usually in September.

 Jo Tate - Chairman

Jo’s first graduate job was working as a trainee community development officer, which gave her an insight into the significance and importance of rural communities and people who live within them.  This work lead to an opportunity to head up the business support provision delivered by the Rural Women’s Network before moving on to manage a market town regeneration project in Longtown. 

More recently Jo has worked with businesses in Cumbria to access academic expertise within the University of Cumbria, through managing collaborative partnerships.  For the last two years she has ran a spin-off company on behalf of 5 universities in the North West, including the University of Cumbria, offering on-line learning facilities and courses.

Jo believes that communities are such an important part of rural life in Cumbria, and in the work that ACT does to support, develop, and offer a voice to. As Chair her role is to lead ACT through growing funding challenges, whilst continuing to resource and deliver activity that has such a strong and lasting impact on rural communities.

  Sam Bramwell

Sam attended school in Penrith before moving to Newcastle upon Tyne.  She also lived in London and Leicester for a number of years before returning to Cumbria in 2003.

She has spent her working life in a variety of roles with in the public, private and voluntary sectors including in primary and adult education and working for the Rural Women’s Network, a network set up by Voluntary Action Cumbria to support Cumbrian women in business.

For the last 10 years, Sam has worked within Economic Development at the County Council where she has developed and managed economic programmes including the 2007-2013 and 2014-2020 Solway, Border and Eden LEADER Programmes. She has a keen interest in sustainable rural development and is committed to supporting local communities to resolve the issues that are facing them. 


 Sue Castle-Clarke

After studying linguistics and business administration, Sue has spent her working life in commercial environments within both the private and public sectors, undertaking a variety of roles for BPB Industries Ltd, Rural Development Commission and Cumbria County Council.

Sue has lived in Cumbria for 30 years where she has actively engaged in her local community through serving on the parish council, involvement with her village hall committee and membership of various social groups. Sue’s attachment to the countryside is strong, as is her commitment to encouraging local people to influence the future of their communities positively through their own choices and ensuring that the special characteristics of rural Cumbria can be celebrated and sustained.


 Liz Clegg

Liz has lived in rural West Cumbria for over thirty years, and has bought up a family of four children.  She has worked as a Market Research Interviewer and set up the Muncaster Microbus, a community transport initiative, which is now a Charity and Company limited by Guarantee.  For the last ten years, Liz has worked as a volunteer in the community and health representation field, working closely with staff from the NHS and other Public Sector organisations to ensure that the views and experiences of the users and the local communities are taken into consideration when delivering the services.  She is also very interested in improving the access to services in Cumbria for those who are unable to drive.

Liz has been a Trustee since 2006 and is a member of the Personnel Committee.


 Charles Ecroyd

Charles Ecroyd lives near Armathwaite in the Eden Valley with his wife and their 2 children where he runs the family’s agricultural & sporting estate. In recent years their home has become a licensed venue for a host of activities including weddings, varied events, lunches and dinners. Charles’ wife, Sara, runs her own catering business.

Charles is currently the chairman of Cumbria and Lakes Local Access Forum, vice-chairman of Mitre Housing Association, a trustee of Eden Rivers Trust, vice-chairman of Armathwaite PCC, a Patron in the Inglewood group of churches, a vice-president of Lakeland Housing Trust, former chairman of Trustees of Armathwaite Old School Hall and a former president and chairman of the Cumbria branch of the CLA.


 Alan McViety

Alan is a Chartered Accountant and partner in a Cumbrian based firm of Chartered Accountants.  He has a keen interest in rural affairs having lived all his life in Cumbria and has a practical  business approach to life.  In his leisure time he enjoys travel to other countries and in particular the rural areas of those countries.

Alan has been an ACT Trustee since 2002 and chairs ACT’s Finance Committee.


 Ron Munby MBE

Ron has been living in Cumbria for 30 years. He is ex army having worked in Horseguards undertaking ceremonial duties including serving as a member of the special investigation branch. He was the Managing Director of a car accessory company with a special responsibility for marketing in the North of England.  He retired and took up role of director of George Fishers of Keswick Training Company and was responsible, with others, for introducing NVQ’s.

Ron is an Allerdale Borough Councillor, representing older people’s issues on several bodies, but has also served as Mayor of Keswick Town Council on three occasions and Major of Allerdale Borough Council once.  He has been chair of BBC Advisory Council for the north of England coupled with the Chair of Age Concern and director for the NW of England. Ron is still a Trustee and director of Age UK. He has served as a Chair and Board member of an impressive range of local and regional organisations such as: Keswick Parks, St Kentigern’s Nursery & Infant School, Keswick School, Alzheimer’s East/West Cumbria, Keswick Youth Committee, Lion’s Club of Keswick,  Bassenthwaite Rotary Club, Keswick Jazz Festival. Keswick Classical Music Festival, Keswick Town Council, Keswick Victorian Fayre Committee, World Mountain Racing Championship,  Keswick Older Folks Circle, Extreme Sports Commonwealth Games.

Ron was awarded and MBE for services to the community in 2010.  He has been an ACT trustee since 2010 and is currently Chair of the Health & Safety Committee.

 Des O'Halloran

Des, a professional geologist by training, has spent most of his working career as an environmentalist, undertaking a wide variety of roles working for the Nature Conservatory Council, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, English Nature and Natural England. Two decades living in Cumbria have fostered in Des a keen interest in how we can maintain the distinctiveness of rural traditions and working life as our communities adapt to the changing conditions of the twenty first century. For Des a love of landscape and the built heritage informs a very personal commitment to rural places and people.

For five years Des chaired the Cumbria Rural Forum as it explored, through public discussion, key issues facing rural Cumbria and how best to respond to them. Des has been a trustee of ACT since 2006 and was Chairman from 2011 to 2017.

 Ian Payne

Ian has worked in Cumbria for over 35 years in a variety of roles in local government. Originally involved in local planning, Ian moved across to Economic Development as part of the Council’s response to the recession of the late 1970’s/early 1980’s, which decimated West Cumbria’s economic base and impacted so severely on local communities. He developed and managed European Programmes and through that experience became involved in community-based regeneration, including the Salterbeck SRB programme, in Workington. He was also involved in the establishment of the Solway Rural Initiative, which recognised that rural regeneration and countryside management were essential components of sustainable development. Not rocket science but possibly the first time that national bodies, Rural Development Commission and Countryside Commission had worked together in a local partnership.

Latterly Ian was involved in resilience and recovery planning after the 2009 floods and contributed to the community resilience agenda that is still current. As a Strategic Manager responsible for delivery of front line services, such as refuse, recycling and asset management, he worked to develop a dialogue with local communities about priorities and levels of service achievable in the face of budget cutbacks. Ian is committed to supporting local communities in planning for and creating solutions to the diverse issues that they face.

 Jim Webster

Jim has farmed in South Cumbria all his life. As well as this he's a writer, freelance journalist, and at various times has acted as a consultant. A life member of the Youth Hostel Association he is an enthusiastic walker. Other than that he has had a long interest in rural matters being a member of the Churches Together in Cumbria Rural Forum, and a volunteer for Farm Crisis Network.

ACT President, Vice Presidents and Patron

ACT also has a President, three Vice Presidents, and a Patron. The President's role is an official post within the ACT structure. The appointment is bestowed at the invitation of the Board of Trustees and is an honour that reflects outstanding contribution to the work of ACT and / or the rural communities of Cumbria. We are proud to have Jolyon Dodgson as our current President. The Vice President role is a lifetime honour that also reflects outstanding contribution to the work of ACT and / or the rural communities of Cumbria. The vice presidents role has no formal duties. Our three Vice Presidents are: Olive Clarke OBE JP DL, John Dunning CBE JP DL, and Andrew Humphries OBE.

 Jolyon Dodgson MBE - President

Jolyon has been active in the field of rural affairs in the North West for 40 years, first as Senior Organiser for the Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas, then as Regional Director of the Country Land and Business Association.  His voluntary work has included national Chair of ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), Chair of VAC (now ACT) and Executive Member of the North West Rural Affairs Forum.  He was the founder of Cumbria Rural Forum and was also a founder member of the North West Rural Affairs Forum.

Jolyon has, in former years, been Vice-Chair and then Acting Chair of the National Lottery Charities Board and was the first Chairman of Awards for All in the North West.  His other former appointments have included Chair of the Churches Rural Forum, Chair of Cumbria Rural Housing Trust, Vice-Chair of Lakeland Housing Trust and Chair of Governors of his local village school.  He is now a Governor of Myerscough College in Lancashire and Chair of its Audit Committee, a Board member of Mitre Housing Association in Cumbria, member of the National Trust North West Advisory Board and Chair of the Trust’s Rural Enterprise Panel.

By profession Jolyon is a musician and has performed as soloist all over the world.  He has been national Chair of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, Composers and Performers Section, and Vice-Chair of the relevant Equity committee.  In the ‘70s for five years he was the chief executive of a large arts complex in Scotland and in Cumbria he was Chair for several years of Eden Arts Trust and is now a Trustee of the Westmorland Music Council, Chair of Carlisle Festival, Chair of the Mary Wakefield Festival in Kendal, and Artistic Director of the Brathay Music Festival. Jolyon has been associated with ACT since 1978, first as head of the (then) sister organisation CoSIRA, under the (then) Development Commission, more recently as Trustee, then Chairman, and now proudly as President.

Latest News

Help for Village Halls Managing Risks

1 May 2018

Help for Village Halls Managing Risks

ACTion with communities in Cumbria has been working with participants from seven village halls to design a Managing Risks Toolkit for the 300 plus halls across Cumbria.

The project aims to assist village halls to deal with the challenges of extreme weather events and other risks such as loss of income, issues within committees and other situations. It is funded by the Prince’s Countryside Fund and was awarded after Storm Desmond when a number of halls in Carlisle, South Lakeland and Allerdale were flooded.

Local charity supports community resilience across Cumbria

12 April 2018

Local charity supports community resilience across Cumbria

ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) is supporting community resilience and emergency planning activities across Cumbria, as part of a 3 year BIG Lottery funded programme. This includes helping people to get together to share their experiences, think about future risks and what they might do to be better prepared.

ACT celebrating 70 years - and appealing for images

5 April 2018

ACT celebrating 70 years - and appealing for images

ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) is 70 in October and using this milestone as an opportunity to celebrate the organisation’s past and also look to the future.

ACT’s Chief Executive Lorrainne Smyth says “We’ve changed our name several times in those 70 years, settling on ACTion with Communities in Cumbria back in 2008, but it is striking how little our aims, priorities and ways of working have changed since the beginning. We still rely on a core group of committed people as our staff and our Trustees and it’s still about making a difference by championing rural issues and working with communities.”

Thank you to everyone involved in Village Halls Week

26 January 2018

Thank you to everyone involved in Village Halls Week

Village Halls around the country have been celebrating the first national Village Halls Week between 22nd and 26th January. Here at ACT we’d like to say a huge thank you for all the work you do in your communities and to share a few of the highlights in Cumbria and around the country.

Cumbria celebrates national Village Halls Week

10 January 2018

Cumbria celebrates national Village Halls Week

ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) is encouraging village halls across the county to get involved in the first ever national #VillageHallsWeek starting Monday 22nd January 2018. This is a week-long celebration to say a collective “thank-you” to all volunteers who work tirelessly to keep community buildings and village halls open for the benefit of their communities.

Celebrating Award Winning Village Halls

13 September 2017

Celebrating Award Winning Village Halls

Volunteers from six Community Buildings around Cumbria were presented with achievement awards by ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) at their recent AGM. Over 50 people attended the event at Sedbergh People’s Hall, celebrating the enormous contribution which Village Hall volunteers make to the communities they serve.