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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.

 Des O'Halloran - Chairman

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. He became Chair of ACT in 2011 and is leading the Board in steering ACT through the economic downturn so that it can continue to work alongside the communities of Cumbria and help them realise their potential. Des has been a trustee of ACT since 2006.

  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.

 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

Re Advertised - Vacancy West Coast Development Officer

1 March 2017

Re Advertised - Vacancy West Coast Development Officer

ACT champions community and rural issues and supports communities to: Plan for their future, Develop Projects, Work with others, and Influence and change policy.

We need a West Cumbria Development Officer for 22hrs per week, working within our small team, based in Penrith.

New ACT Trustees

21 February 2017

New ACT Trustees

/Portals/0/ACT Press Releases/2017-02-21 New Trustees PR.pdf?ver=2017-02-21-104044-950ACTion with communities in Cumbria champions community and rural issues and are welcoming two energetic, committed people to join our board of trustees. As a registered charity that has been functioning for almost 70 years, we need trustee board members who can use their local knowledge and understanding to think strategically about how best to support rural communities to thrive.

Our two new ACT Board members come from very different backgrounds and bring a diverse range of skillsets and expertise to the table. 

VACANCY - West Coast Development Officer

9 January 2017

VACANCY - West Coast Development Officer

ACT champions community and rural issues and supports communities to: Plan for their future, Develop Projects, Work with others, and Influence and change policy.

Due new funding we are looking to appoint a West Cumbria Development Officer for 22hrs per week, working within our small team, based in Penrith.


Big Lottery Fund pledges £1 million support to help Cumbrian communities become more resilient in the wake of the December floods

13 September 2016

Big Lottery Fund pledges £1 million support to help Cumbrian communities become more resilient in the wake of the December floods

The Big Lottery Fund has today announced a £1 million package to help Cumbrian communities become more resilient. This comes in the wake of December’s devastating floods, and will help local people, communities and organisations to prepare for similar events in the future.

The ‘Rebuilding Together’ programme will take place over the next 3 years, led by Cumbria CVS and delivered in partnership with Cumbria Action for Sustainability (CAfS) and Action with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) – three local charities with a long history of working together to support Cumbrian communities and organisations.

Future support for community-led housing solutions

29 July 2016

Future support for community-led housing solutions

Across the country celebrations have been taking place as part of Rural Housing Week, to celebrate and promote community solutions to housing issues. ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) is taking this opportunity to promote the development of a new service to support communities in the future.


Support on hand for volunteers running Cumbria's village halls

29 July 2016

Support on hand for volunteers running Cumbria's village halls

ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) has supported village halls for over 60 years with specialist advice and information and has now secured funding to provide help for hall volunteers until 2017.