Board of Trustees
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.
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’’.
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.
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.
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.
I live in South Shields and am married, with one daughter. I grew up and have lived most of my life in South Shields and have a great love of the region, its heritage and its people.
I retired after a career in the Banking and Finance industry spanning 42 years mainly in the Commercial Real Estate and Business Banking sectors. My professional background and experience helped develop excellent financial and business skills having been involved with businesses across the North East and wider parts of the UK.
During my last two years whilst working for Newcastle Building Society I was also a member of the judging panel for the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund, which allocated grants to many charitable organisations in the North East of England.
Since retiring I have been involved as a Volunteer Presenter with Radio Shields ( a local community radio station) presenting a weekly music show as well as being involved in outside broadcasts and local events. I have a great passion for live music and theatre and currently play guitar in a band which plays across the region.
My other interests include sport, enjoying golf and cycling and watching most sports including South Shields FC, for which I participate in the Fans Forum which regularly meets with club management.
Professional qualifications include : Associate of Chartered Institute of Bankers – ACIB ( Banking Diploma )
Diploma in Management Development – DMD
Laura is part of the Bereavement team at St Oswald’s Hospice, providing 1 to 1 client support as well as delivering grief and loss training to organisations to help them deal with bereavement in the workplace. She also works as a training facilitator for Hospice UK, the national charity for palliative and end of life care.
Her background is mainly in fundraising and events management within the arts and culture sector in the North East, most notably 13 years at Theatre Royal and 4 years at Seven Stories.
She is fiercely committed to access and equality, holding additional voluntary positions alongside each of her previous roles to promote equity, diversity and inclusion.
Laura hopes to use her experience and passion for the arts to make a useful and positive contribution to the Customs House and its important work.
Arabella is Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Creative Industries, at the University of Sunderland, leading areas across Art and Design, Media, Communications and Performance. Her practice as a photographer comprises of works that integrate text and image and that challenge assumptions and/or give voice to under-represented groups as well as exploring how photographic representation impacts on society. She moved to South Shields from London over 30 years ago and has been involved with The Customs House as an audience member both of performances and the exhibitions, since it opened.