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Speakers 2018

(More speaker profiles currently being added)

Gareth Allen

The managing director of Soundview. He worked as a television journalist, producer and director for twenty years before setting up Soundview in 2009. Soundview creates award-winning destination marketing videos throughout the South West, connecting audiences with the world-class experience on offer in the region. Soundview has been at the forefront of producing unmanned aerial video for tourism businesses. Sponsoring both the West Country Tourism Conference and the South West Tourism Excellence Awards, Soundview understands the vital contribution tourism makes to the region.

Robin Barker 

Director of Services for Tourism Ltd. He is also immediate Past President of Tourism Management Institute, a Director of the Tourism Alliance and was a founding Director of VisitDevon.

Current and recent responsibilities include the Tourism Awards for Cornwall, Devon, Dorset & the South West, Tourism Conferences across the region, and a 2012 Marketing plan for VisitEngland.

This follows a career of 30+ years in travel and tourism, including 6 years at Saga Group, a year as an overseas resort rep, 12 years in consultancy, 2 years at National Maritime Museum Cornwall and 5 years as Marketing Director of South West Tourism. He is a fellow of Tourism Management Institute and wouldn't live anywhere but South West England.  He loves helping businesses get better!

Nell Barrington

Nell has worked in tourism for 25 years; organising weddings, festivals, events, as Tourism Manager in South Somerset and for the last 15 years as a freelance tourism and business advisor.

Nell enjoys working alongside tourism and food and drink businesses helping them develop and attract more visitors through PR, product development and marketing.  She loves research and organising large events eg as a Director of Services for Tourism she runs both the Beautiful South Awards in South East England and the Bristol Bath and Somerset Tourism Awards.

She is currently meeting with businesses along the South West Coast Path helping them attract more walkers and international visitors as part of the Great Walking Trails project.  She is also walking the 630 mile path for charity, with her dog, Luna the tuna, which is she says "harder than she thought!"

Sue Bradbury

Sue Bradbury, Managing Director of SBPR Ltd, is a highly experienced PR practitioner who works with a range of tourism businesses across the South West. From getting articles in the online and offline press to keeping in touch with customers, Sue can advise on every aspect of strategic communications to help increase visits, word-of-mouth recommendations and bottom line profit.

Simon Calder

Simon Calder is Britain's leading travel commentator and is known as “the man who pays his way” which means that he pays for his own travel.

He began his career at Gatwick airport, where he cleaned out planes for Sir Freddie Laker and, later, frisked passengers (for a job, that is; not a hobby).

He then started to write travel guidebooks and travel articles. Today Simon is Travel Correspondent for The Independent. Simon also writes for the Evening Standard, the i newspaper, as well many other publications.

Simon is a regular guest on national TV, often seen on BBC Breakfast, Good Morning Britain, This Morning, CNN, ITV News and Sky News.  He is frequently interviewed on national and local BBC radio.

Twitter: @SimonCalder  Instagram: simon_calder   Website:

Ross Calladine

Ross Calladine is Head of Business Support for VisitEngland. As part of his role, Ross is VisitEngland’s in-house accessibility specialist developing initiatives that help tourism businesses and destinations tap into the high value, growing accessible tourism market.

Ross has led the development of an innovative Accessibility Guides website, spearheaded the production of a number of guidance booklets and he also manages VisitEngland’s Inclusive Tourism Award, which recognises leaders in the field. Ross also convenes England’s Inclusive Tourism Action Group comprising leading accessible tourism stakeholders.

As an authority on accessible tourism, Ross regularly speaks at industry events, most recently including 1st UNWTO Conference on Accessible Tourism, World Travel Market, ITB Berlin and Destinations for All World Summit.

Thomas Chartres-Moore

A solicitor in the IP and IT team at Stephens Scown. He is also on the board of directors of Food and Drink Devon, a not-for-profit organisation set up to help quality food and drink producers based in Devon. He has over five years experience advising clients on IP and IT issues, and works with start-ups to multi-national businesses. A self professed geek, Thomas is valued by IT clients for his intrinsic understanding of both the law and its practical application.

As an IP specialist, Thomas' work includes:

  • advice on the creation and expansion of international trade mark portfolios;
  • advising clients on legal frameworks for intellectual property exploitation such as licencing and franchising;
  • conduct and management of data verification exercises and covert test purchases;
  • planning and execution of intra-group IP restructures. 

Stephen Chidgey

Stephen has a varied career including periods with Polaroid UK, Thorn EMI and AVS Broadcast - a company that won an Emmy Award for technology and the Queens Awards for Industry. He was then General Manager & Director of AVS Graphics and was on the board of Omnibus Systems, before returning to Cornwall where he runs Old Barn Tregonetha. An eco-make over was completed in 2013 and it was a bronze finalist in the Cornwall Sustainability Awards. He then went onto win an unconditional place at CAT – Centre for Alternative Technology – University of East London to study for an MSc in Renewable Energy & Sustainable Build Design.

Stephen now sits on the Board of Truro Diocese Advisory Committee for renewables and sustainability. 

Old Barn Tregonetha has won Gold in the Cornwall and South West Tourism Awards back to back for the last 2 years – 2016-17 / 2017-18 and was delighted to win Silver – Sustainable Tourism – Cornwall 2017-18 & Bronze for same at South West Awards 2018. In Autumn 2018 Stephen was invited to join the board at Premier Cottages and was voted on as Recruitment Director at the AGM in October.

Stephen is passionate about quality and customer service not just in his own business, but sharing and motivating others involved in tourism.

Gemma Edmonds

After spending 15 years as a General Manager/ Senior Manager at some of South Devon’s premier hotels, Gemma has recently joined The Springboard Charity and Springboard UK Ltd as Head of the South West.  Focusing on helping young people achieve their potential, supporting unemployed people of any age into work and people facing multiple barriers to work in the hospitality industry. Whilst supporting business by promoting hospitality, leisure and tourism as a great place to work and providing specialist services to businesses to attract talent and support Human Resource and Corporate Social Responsibility priorities.  Gemma is also a Director of Visit South Devon and a St Julian Scholar. 

Sally Everton

Sally’s career began in media, and changed direction to travel and tourism 18 years ago, working for IHG, and then Macdonald Hotels. She was one of 6 founder members of the Oxford Marketing Group, effectively a new DMO for Oxford.

Moving back to her home county of Devon 14 years ago, she joined Bovey Castle as Director of Sales. After leaving Bovey, Sally set up on her own, and offers a bespoke international representation service for venues across South West England, focussing on the US, China, Germany and the UAE.

She is a director for Visit Devon and consults for them 3 days a week. Her role is to develop and carry out day-to-day activity and ensure consistency, promoting Devon as a destination both nationally and internationally.

Mark Godfrey FIH MI

Managing Director, Deer Park Country House

Mark has 30 years’ experience and knowledge of the hospitality industry – working his way up from a trainee manager with De Vere Hotels back in the late 1980’s to his current position as MD and shareholder of the Deer Park.

Mark is a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality, a Master Innholder and Chair of the South West Hospitality Action fundraising board.

Ellie Hibberd

Ellie is an experienced partner and heads up the HRExpress team at Stephens Scown. She believes that for businesses, having effective, specialist advice readily available is key to putting in place and retaining an engaged and settled workforce. She prides herself in giving focused, pragmatic advice which makes the running of businesses smoother and easier. Within her role she works with businesses on their day to day HR and employment practices as well as advising on reorganisations and business transfers. She also supports private individuals on the full spectrum of employment law including redundancy, departure situations and Settlement Agreements, capability issues and discrimination.

The organisations Ellie supports are drawn from a wide range of sectors but she has a particular interest in the charity, food and drink and hospitality sectors.

Ellie is a member of the Employment Lawyers’ Association. 

Helen Laing

 A ‘hard core’ Chartered Marketer with many years’ experience in the hospitality industry; her work focuses on driving measurable results with impetus and cost efficiency.

Helen has worked with many well-known hotels, venues and destinations in the South-West, and indeed the UK. Her work covers everything from business strategy and branding, through to hands-on marketing implementation, revenue management and guest experience. Very passionate about hospitality, she fundamentally understands how to influence the buying process, and helps hospitality businesses engage and inspire. Digitally savvy with a creative approach, Helen works with venues large and small, making budgets (large and small!) go further. She has many trade secrets up her sleeve and is most guilty of saying “I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but…”!

Josh McCarty

Josh McCarty is a journalist and chartered marketeer. Josh cut his teeth in news, commercial radio, plus international telecoms, working across multiple platforms with a variety of brands. Over the last decade Josh has predominantly been working in tourism and the marine environment notably as Head of Marketing and Communications for the National Marine Aquarium. Josh turned his hand to digital platforms and was an early adopter of social media and has also grown successful digital retail platforms. Today he is a consultant for the prestigious Blue Marine Foundation, commercial banks, and discreet tourism clients. Josh is also a Director of Visit Devon and the Plymouth Waterfront Partnership.

Kathy Murdoch

Kathy Murdoch is the owner of award winning, Westward Living luxury holiday cottages and Ocean Kave wedding and events venue in Westward Ho!. She has a wide range of experience in the tourism and hospitality sector in North Devon and a previous winner of winners in the Devon Tourism awards for recognition of her work in the regeneration of Westward Ho! Kathy is passionate about tourism and is always looking for the next innovative project to put North Devon on the map.

Simon Nicholls

A recovering corporate lawyer, Simon now holds a masters in Applied Environmental Economics and Sustainable Development and has a passion for helping those in the leisure and hospitality sectors. Simon is currently helping over 4,000 pubs and hotels save over 80,000 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide on an annual basis and relishes the chance to continue this good work.

Simon is the MD of the Devon Power Group of companies, a UK energy developer based in Exeter. Simon is also founder and partner of Enterprise Power Ltd, an early stage power infrastructure developer with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa.

Simon sits on the board of numerous power development and service businesses in the UK and has a proven track record of delivering projects; he has 15+ years of experience in renewable energy, corporate finance, government lobbying, strategy and power development and now enjoys working predominantly in the West Country.

Charlotte Paul

Charlotte is Placement and Employer Liaison Adviser for the Faculty of Business at the University of Plymouth. As part of her remit, Charlotte oversees placements for Hospitality and Tourism students, and frequently assists them with applications, negotiates new placements with employers and highlights the various opportunities available to the students to ensure they get the most out of their time at University. A proud Alumni of Plymouth, Charlotte has also worked within the Hospitality and Tourism sector locally and strongly advocates work experience as a prominent part of the student experience.

Gordon Seabright

Gordon joined Eden in 2014 from the National Cycling Charity where he was Chief Executive, having previously been Director General of the RHS and Commercial Director of English Heritage. He cares deeply about Eden’s ethos and purpose, and in particular how Eden can create connections and strengthen communities. As Chief Executive he is responsible for all aspects of Eden Project Ltd’s work.

Gordon is passionate about Eden’s role in the Cornish community, and serves as a director of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership along with Newquay Community Orchard and the ACE Multi Academy Trust, both of which are based near his home on the Cornwall’s North Coast. He is also a trustee of Five Talents UK, a charity supporting financial inclusion and women’s’ rights in developing countries. He holds a degree in History from the University of Cambridge and an MBA from Henley Management College.

Darren Seward

Darren Seward is the Hospitality and Food & Drink Specialist for the NFU Mutual providing expert insight from industry knowledge and relationships.

Authored a number of pieces of content and thought leadership material for Hospitality and Food & Drink including the Hotel Confidence report, How to Hire (and Keep) Young People in Hospitality and other material focused on these two sectors.

As part of his role he works with a number of hospitality and food & drink associations across the UK seeking to understand how the NFU Mutual can add value to the offering they give their members in promoting hospitality and local food & drink in their areas as well as leading these sectors for the NFU Mutual.

John Sheaves

As CEO of Taste of the West, the hugely influential Regional Food Group for the South West region, John has developed the group over the past 14 years to be a local food supply chain cooperative with nearly 1100 members, and with it the largest regional food and drink awards scheme in the UK. Always looking to develop solutions in the supply chain, John has overseen the development of an innovative ‘consolidated’ distribution scheme which now supplies the likes of - the UK’s leading online food retailer with south west products. This enables small cases of artisan products to be more efficiently distributed.

John, and his wife Becky also run the award winning glamping site on the home farm and with a background in farming and the environment, John uses his passion for the region to promote the importance of a strong hospitality sector with top quality food and drink at its heart.

Richard Smith OBE

Richard Smith is the Director of The Tank Museum in Bovington, which holds the world’s finest collection of armoured vehicles. He has overseen the Museum’s redevelopment over the last twelve years into one of Dorset’s top rated cultural attractions. He was appointed OBE for services to Military Heritage in 2018.

Upon graduating from Durham University, Richard joined P&O Containers. He spent eleven years in the transport industry carrying out roles in IT development, marketing and supply chain logistics. His shipping career gave him the opportunity of working in North America and Asia, as well as in the UK.

Richard is Chair of the Dorset Tourism Association, a Trustee of the Kimmeridge Trust, a board member of the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership and the father of two children.

Pete Stevens

 Senior Marketing Analyst, Clockwork Marketing. Pete has worked in digital marketing for over 10 years and specialises in hotel website optimisation, User Experience (UX) and analytics. He delivers insightful, actionable analysis to support and grow hospitality businesses. Working with hoteliers who want to improve their existing digital presence, as well as those looking for a fresh start, his work increases online conversions.

Dr Julie Wooler

Economic Development & Strategic Tourism Officer, Somerset County Council

Julie has 10 years of experience working in tourism development and policy both in an academic setting and within Somerset County Council. Her PhD Thesis focussed on understanding the barriers to sustainable tourist behaviour in South West England. Her current role within Somerset County Council is as a member of the Hinkley Tourism Action Partnership (HTAP). The partnership was set up in accordance with the Site Preparation agreement for the development of Hinkley Point C (HPC) nuclear power station in Somerset. The partnership works together to mitigate the challenges and maximise the opportunities for tourism associated with the development of the power station.