The following are Trustees and Company Directors of the Citizens Advice Cornwall Board:
- Fran Keene (Chair)
- John Baker (Vice Chair)
- Paul Charlesworth (Treasurer)
- Prof Meryll Dean
- Janet Thompson
- Natasha Arnold
The Chair of Trustees may be reached by clicking this link and filling out your details
Fran has been directly involved with the Citizens Advice service since 2011 as a Trustee of National Citizens Advice and Chair of the Equality Committee. Her mother-in-law was the long serving Bureau Manager at St Austell, so her relationship with the service goes back almost 25 years. She is deeply committed to the twin aims and principles of the service, and a huge advocate of the power of putting the client at the heart of our decision making and practice. She is also a long-term volunteer, starting out with a drug-alcohol service more than 20 years ago and now as a Trustee at CA Cornwall and a Non-Executive Director at the Ocean Housing Group.
Fran has worked across public, not-for-profit and commercial sectors. Her primary purpose is trying to work out how we can reduce socio-economic inequality to create a place where people can thrive. It all started for her in the 1980s with the anti-apartheid movement and her studies into the early foundation of the welfare state while at Liverpool University. That sparked a lasting curiosity at how public and voluntary institutions can help and hinder progress towards community empowerment and equality of outcome.
As Head of Diversity at the Audit Commission, she led the integration of equality and inclusion into the Comprehensive Area Assessment framework, giving people a snapshot of life in their local area and an independent view of the value for money of local services. She has led national policy reports on race equality and local e-government. As part of the start-up team at the National Lottery Community Fund, she helped deliver £90m of funding to civil society groups in its first year. Since arriving in Cornwall in 2012, she has worked with Falmouth University as a Lay Member of the Research Ethics Committee, advised various organisations on their approaches to equality, diversity and inclusion and supported holiday letting owners to transform their properties to improve their physical accessibility and enhance their attractiveness to disabled and non-disabled holiday makers.
She feels very lucky to live in Falmouth with a husband, two boys, a dog and a cat.
John Baker (Vice Chair)
I started in the retail food industry in 1973 when I took over a small convenience store in West Cornwall. After 12 years of trading and the business sold I moved to London to take up a position as manager of a small supermarket. Realising I could not afford to buy a home in the capital I embarked on a plan to get back to Cornwall. After several positions I achieved this in 1997 running stores in Falmouth, St Austell and Truro. I retired from this position in 2010.
During the late 1980s and early 90s, the company I worked for was rapidly expanding by acquisitions and new store openings. During this period I was involved with recruitment, training and the opening of new stores.
After retiring from the retail food industry I became a little bored and started to renovate a couple of properties requiring total refurbishment which were later sold. Still feeling I had something to give to the job market I took on the job of managing a small charity in Penzance. This made me aware of the many dedicated people in this sector and the experience of working with a Board of Trustees. When this job finished I felt I could use this experience and applied to be a Trustee at Citizens Advice Cornwall.
I also volunteer as an advisor for Age UK, which involves visiting clients in their own homes, giving advice and applying for any benefits they may be entitled to. I have also been involved with Cornwall Hospice, helping to set up a new income source.
My spare time is taken up by gardening and I have an interest in classic cars and own a 1951 Triumph saloon, sadly in pieces on the garage floor and a 1976 Triumph Stag, currently undergoing an engine rebuild.
Paul Charlesworth (Treasurer)
I joined Price Waterhouse Coppers (PWC) in 1983 in the Management Consultancy Division working predominately in the financial services sector covering investment banking, funds management and commercial/retail banking. At the time PWC was based at London Bridge in Southwark Towers. This was subsequently demolished and the Shard now sits on the site. I left PWC in 1992 and joined a World Bank team in Eastern Europe with the remit of restructuring the banks. This was just after the fall of the Berlin Wall and Eastern Europe was very much a ‘Wild West’ environment with appalling infrastructure. With the assistance of the World Bank and IMF funding an embryonic market economy evolved during my time and has subsequently gone from strength to strength. I returned to London in 1997 and joined a niche consultancy called Terrence Chapman Associates which consulted in the investment banking sector covering Europe and the Middle East. In 2002 the company was sold and restructured.
In the summer of 2003, my wife and I purchased a somewhat dilapidated Water Mill outside Padstow which was run as a B&B. We spent the following winter enduring six months of builders modernising the listed building. We opened the business in 2004 and were awarded 4 Gold rating. This was initially a five-year project before retirement, unfortunately the financial crash intervened. We eventually sold the business and we retired to Zelah in 2014 and I joined Citizens Advice in 2015.
Professor Meryll Dean
I am originally from North Cornwall and returned frequently after going to university thereby remaining in contact with the people and issues of the county. In 2014 I returned to live here permanently. After university I qualified as a barrister and worked in the profession before becoming an academic. I have obtained Board experience in various roles. In particular sitting as an independent member of a Police Authority and being an independent member of Council Standards Committees at City and County Level. I am currently Vice-Chairman of the Royal Over-Seas League where I sit on the Central Council and the Executive Committee. My interest in the work of Citizens Advice started when I was an academic and arranged work placements for students. My career and volunteer roles have enabled me to work with people of all ages and socio-cultural backgrounds and coming from Cornwall I hope I am now well placed to bring my legal and career experience to the Trustee role at CA Cornwall.
I have trained and worked in a variety of nursing specialities including: plastic and burns, orthopaedics, accident and emergency and surgical units. My career led me to become a Senior Health Promotion Officer, with a remit for primary, secondary and tertiary levels of intervention for Drug and Alcohol problems. I progressed to the role of Clinical Nurse Specialist in the field of drug and alcohol, working in various settings, including prisons and schools.
As my husband is an Engineer, we have travelled a great deal, which has allowed me the privilege of living and working in beautiful countries such as Oman, Denmark and Norway. While living overseas, I learnt a lot about the different approaches to how health care systems can function. I have worked as a Nurse/Manager in Oman, assessed health and safety within organisations and provided teaching sessions. I was a lecturer at The Robert Gordon University (Aberdeen), where I completed my MSc in Health Improvement. More recently I have taught and assessed nursing staff across Cornwall and Devon.
I believe health and illness are defined by your biology (genes), behaviour (lifestyle, stress), and society (inequalities, deprivation and cultural influences). Therefore, I am passionate about acting as advocate to enable and empower people to exercise their rights, obtaining fair and equal treatment, that enhances the quality of their lives and society as a whole, which is why I am passionate about the work that the Citizens Advice service provides.
I have lived in Cornwall for 18 years and for 14 of those I worked at Fifteen and the Cornwall Food Foundation. I joined Fifteen as part of the opening team and then spent nine years developing my expertise in operational management in a social enterprise. In 2015 the Cornwall Food Foundation, the charity behind Fifteen, were looking to grow their services and reach more people and communities in Cornwall – I moved into a development role to gain funding for a new community food skills programme. I then progressed to Head of Foundation in 2018. It was an amazing experience where I had the opportunity to lead the direction of the organisation, develop and deliver new services, build new partnerships and secure new funding. At the heart of my own journey is that I want to make a difference in the world where we live – particular in terms of social mobility and making our communities better places to live.
I feel closely aligned with the twin aims of the Citizens Advice and the fundamental difference it makes to people’s live – particularly those with a lower socio economic status. I am looking forward to using my skills and experience to support the charities development at a strategic level.