Our Board of Trustees

Our Board of Trustees is responsible for the overall control and strategic direction of  VAST. They meet regularly to discuss, decide and review our strategies and policies and receive reports and updates from senior managers.


Neil Dawson

Neil has been a trustee of VAST since 1998, and has been the Chair since 2006. A committed socialist, believing in the usefulness of real partnership working, having worked in the private, voluntary, co-operative and state sectors, and was a foster carer for nearly 20 years. He is governor at two schools and a director of The City Learning Trust. He is also a Trustee of the Burslem School of Art, Bradeley Community Centre and Ford Green Hall Museum. Neil has also served as a City Councillor for 11 years. Enjoys most sports, walking, reading and has a keen interest in science. Neil is very passionate about Port Vale Football Club.


Mark Barnish

Mark is a Chartered Accountant. Until April 2009 he was a partner in the then top seven accounting firm, Baker Tilly (now RSM), having formerly been a Partner with KPMG and he has been a Trustee of The Dudson Centre since formation of the charity. Mark has active community involvement including being a Council Member of the North Staffs Chamber of Commerce up until April 2009. He was a founder trustee of the Staffordshire Community Foundation and is a trustee of VAST and a former member of the University of Keele Audit Committee. Following his retirement from profession life Mark took on consecutive roles as Finance Director, initially with, Saint John of God Hospitaller Services, and latterly The Camphill village Trust. These were both Charities which provide holistic health, social care and specialist support to many of the most vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalised people throughout the UK. Mark fully retired in 2019.


John Beech

John has been a trustee of VAST since 1992. An active member of the Stoke community, John is passionate about the CSO and has served as an elected Council member in the past. John is Chair of both STAND (Stoke-on-Trent Advisory Network for Disabilities) and also the Basford and Cliffe Vale Residents Association. Previously, John has served as the Chair of the North Staffs Race Equality Council, stepping down after completing a three year term.


Susan Meredith

Susan has in excess of 20 years experience in NHS Management.  Having commenced her career in Women & Children’s Services in an acute hospital in North Wales, she relocated to England whilst gaining further skills and experience across the NHS.  Susan ultimately settled in Staffordshire, working initially as Business Manager for Forensic Mental Health Services and later talking forward the role of Service Director for Learning Disability Services across Shropshire and Staffordshire. Key achievements included leading on modernisation and service redesign in Learning Disability Services in Shropshire, South Staffordshire and North Staffordshire, in partnership with health, social services and independent sector providers;  development of West Midlands Region Forensic Mental Health Services, including the opening of a Forensic Mental Health ICU and a low secure Forensic Learning Disability Service in South Staffordshire. Proud to adopt Stafford as her home town, Susan graduated from Staffordshire University with her MBA in 2008, retired from the NHS in 2014 and is now a Trustee for VAST.


Lesley Morrey

Director of Student Engagement and Partnerships at Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group. Lesley is responsible for student experience at the College including Student Services and High Needs Provision. Lesley also is the Safeguarding and Prevent Lead and strategic lead for Equality & Diversity.  Lesley was appointed in July 2015 following her previous role as Director of Curriculum at Stoke on Trent College. Lesley has over 117 years management experience in the FE and training and development sector and before this was managing registered nursing homes across the County. Outside of work Lesley enjoys the theatre, walking and spending time with her family