Margaret Fay CBE was Managing Director of Tyne Tees Television until 2003 when she became Chairman of One North East, a position she held until 2010. She is Deputy Chairman at the University of Sunderland, Chair of South Tyneside Council’s Economic Regeneration Board, Patron of Tees Valley Community Foundation and a Deputy Lieutenant for Tyne and Wear. She recently stepped down after eight years as Deputy Chairman of Sage Gateshead.
Carol was born in the north east and has lived and worked here for much of her life; in Performing Arts at South Tyneside College, the BBC, Creative Industries Business Development at Teesside University, and back to the BBC where she now works part time. Carol also works in the Media Studies Department at Newcastle University, writes, performs in plays and music groups, give talks, and run creative writing and lit crit workshops.
Why I serve: Where else in the country could you join fifty people to hear a lecture on George Orwell, meet 20 musicians for a morning of music, visit the theatre for the launch a new play, enjoy coffee and a scone in the Green Room, stroll around the gallery, bump into a world famous screen writer, book tickets for a panto selling out fast? And that’s all in one week. This is what The Customs House does for me, and I want to help keep it alive.
Steph is an award winning Broadcast Journalist and radio presenter at BBC Newcastle. She’s South Shields born and bred and studied at The University of Leeds before moving to Peterborough for her first job in radio. Steph returned to the North East in 2006, working at Century Radio before joining the BBC in 2011. She is a regular newsreader and presenter on shows including the Breakfast Show, Mid-Morning and Total Sport and occasionally reports for Look North. Steph’s always had a passion for the arts and is a regular at The Customs House. She was a dancer in her younger years and performed on The Customs House stage several times when it first opened.
Graeme is Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Sunderland where he is responsible for engagement and culture – including the National Glass Centre and the new Sunderland Culture Company. He chairs the Arts Council-funded community arts project The Cultural Spring as well as the steering group for Sunderland’s City of Culture 2021 Bid, and is also Chair for the International Group of the North East Cultural Partnership and the Royal Television Society Education Committee in London.
Before joining the University in 2009, Graeme was managing director of ITV Tyne Tees and Border having also spent time as Head of News and Director of Broadcasting. He came to ITV as a news editor in 1989 after working as a reporter, producer and newsreader for BBC Radio where his credits included Womans Hour, You & Yours and the World Service.
Graeme was born in South Shields and is married with three grown up children. For more than a decade Graeme has been writing the Customs House pantomime in partnership with Ray Spencer.
Viv is a Jarrow lass and attended Springfield Comprehensive and Sixth Form. She remains faithful to her beloved North East despite a few travels as a student of European Business (University of Sunderland) and 21 years with British Airways which culminated in the role of Global Testing Manager. Writing and performing her own poetry led Viv into acting and singing. She is veteran of 6 Customs House Community plays and sings second soprano in ladies choir The Gibside Singers. Having taken voluntary redundancy from BA in 2015 to explore self-employment in acting and drama facilitation, Viv has also completed a Masters degree in Cultural and Creative Industries Management at Northumbria. In serving on the board she hopes to combine her experience and studies with a passion for the Arts and its transformative effects – giving back to The Customs House and its amazing community as they have given to her.
David lives in Gateshead and works in South Tyneside (Hebburn), so, as a lover of most forms of live performance The Customs House is very relevant to him. For many years he has regularly attended performances with family, friends and grandchildren.
In 2016 David became a Trustee, bringing his wealth of knowledge and experience with him having ran his own manufacturing business since 1976 aswell as his experience as a Chartered Accountant.
Claire Simmons grew up in the North East and studied law at Northumbria University and has a master’s degree in property law. Claire is a solicitor at Ward Hadaway Law Firm in Newcastle where she is an associate of the firm and she specialises in residential property law.
Claire has always had a passion for music, the cinema and theatre. Claire became a member of the board in 2017 and has a keen interest in the outstanding work carried out by the Customs’ House Learning and Participation Group which introduces people of all ages to new artistic and cultural opportunities.
Simon was born and raised in South Shields attending Mortimer Road primary school and the Grammar School and went on to study Economics at Manchester University before returning to the North East where he completed training to qualify as an accountant in Newcastle. After qualifying he moved to London where over the next 35 years he held numerous roles in both finance and general management for companies mainly involved in the food sector.
Simon always held a long term plan to retire back to the North East as it was an ambition to give time and experience back to support local establishments. Simon stated: ‘’TCH is a special place, contributing so much to the arts in South Tyneside as well as providing enjoyment to a great many people. Both my parents had a love for the theatre , my mother as an enthusiastic member of the Westovians and my father as a writer, and although the artistic genes were not passed down to me it is wonderful to be able to participate in the operation and long term development of TCH as a Board Trustee’’.
I have been performing since I was seven and The Customs House has played a huge part in the development of my career. I have just graduated from The University of Sunderland with a First Class BA(Hons) degree in Drama, and I am currently developing myself as a drama facilitator teaching drama in a variety of schools and youth groups. The first time I stepped onto a stage was at The Customs House, and it is an honour to say that 14 years later I am now a Trustee. I was a member of The Customs House Senior Youth Theatre for four years and I have since progressed to become the Director of the Junior Group, where I am able to work with the children on a weekly basis, encouraging them in their work and directing new writing with them. I am hoping to continue with my facilitating work whilst trying to further my career in performing and directing. As a trustee I feel I can now give something back to the place which has helped me so much over the years I have been involved with it.
Eddie, originally from Bradford, met his wife at college in Manchester, she was a native Sanddancer, and he had been a regular visitor to South Shields for many years, so when the opportunity of a role as Technical Manager at a local Battery Factory came up. he jumped at the chance to be able to relocate here
In 1998 set up his own company Cell Pack Solutions initially a sole trader and over the last 21 years he has created one of the most successful businesses in his industry. Employing 30 local people he has overcome many challenges and he is looking forward to adapting some of the skills he has learnt along the way to collaborate with his fellow trustees and support them and The Customs House with their ambitions to keep it at the heart of the community.
Eddie is also on the Board of the Advanced Manufacturing Forum, and is Chairman of South Shields Chess Club, he can be found most Saturday Mornings teaching chess to Children at The WORD.
Nicola was born and bred in South Shields and lives in the town with her husband and young daughter, with her family all close by. The Customs House has always played a big role in her life. As a child she has fond memories of singing in the school choir, performing in school plays or dancing on stage. As an adult she has continued to attend seeing many performances with her friends and family – leaving each time feeling inspired and uplifted.
Nicola is a programme manager at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, a regional economic development organisation that works with partners from across our region to deliver projects and programmes that will create more and better jobs for the people who live and work in the North East. Nicola leads programme delivery for corporate services in the organisation. She brings with her experience in governance and operational processes to her role as a Trustee, but ultimately wants to help make a difference in the town and to the organisation that she loves.
Ian is the founder of South Tyneside Sales and marketing company, Far North Ltd.
A globally experienced director Ian has sat on the board of South Tyneside Homes and was Vice chair at St. Gregory’s RC School.
Ian is also an Enterprise Advisor at St. Wilfrid’s RC College and a Trustee for The Charlie & Carter Foundation.
Passionate about live entertainment Ian hosts the popular, UK live streamed business podcast, Industry Angel.
He is also an award winning professional speaker on the topic of social media and content creation and enjoys addressing audiences globally, at events and conferences.
Ian lives in South Shields with his two children and loves to travel, get out into nature and exercise.
Jake is a Director from the North East of England. He began his career as the Creative Learning Facilitator at Hull Truck Theatre (2012 – 2014) before becoming Trainee Director at Chichester Festival Theatre (2014 – 2016) under the tutelage of Jonathan Church, where he assisted directors such as Jonathan Kent, Howard Davies, Nadia Fall, Max Stafford Clark, Jonathan Church and Co-Directed A Christmas Carol in the Festival Theatre with Dale Rooks.
He has held positions as Resident Director at the Almeida Theatre, developing new work for the venue and was invited to the National Theatre Directors Programme in 2017. He was nominated for an Off-West End Award for his UK Premier of Halley Feiffer’s I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard for Best Director. He is currently an Associate Lecturer at the Northern School of Art and a member of the RNLI.
I served in the British Army from 1972 – to 1995 – 12 years in Germany, + others
During the last few years of my army service. I was seconded onto the personal staff of HRH the Prince of Wales, where I worked as a community facilitator on the Youth Development Programme around the UK. I met a lot of interesting people as well as the Prince on several occasions.
In 1995 during a royal visit to South Shields, I managed to secure a job with the local college to run the Prince’s Trust Youth Development Programme.
From 1995 – to 2001, I went to university and obtained my Bachelor of Arts Degree and post-graduate teaching qualifications. I then worked as a primary grade lecturer for the college within the sports department, preparing young men and women for entry into HM Forces/Police/Fire Services and coaching sports. I again studied at university and obtained several post-graduate qualifications in literacy support during this time.
Nowadays, I am freelance working on several e-learning projects. In addition, I am a local politician on behalf of a UK political party. I have also been known to get involved with local community projects when I have the time.