Jools Townsend

Chief executive

Jools oversees delivery of Community Rail Network’s work in line with its strategic priorities. This includes leading and supporting the team, fostering relationships with the rail industry and third sector, advocating for community rail nationally, and working with the board to ensure the organisation’s development.

Jools is a passionate believer in sustainable travel and communities making positive change. Her career has been dedicated to the third sector, with a focus on communications, campaigning and supporting grassroots action. Jools loves being outdoors, including walking, running and camping.

Brian Barnsley

Deputy chief executive and Head of support and development

Brian heads up Community Rail Network’s support and development team, which provides ‘frontline’ support and encouragement to community rail partnerships across Britain: attending meetings and events, and supporting planning and projects. Brian also leads on delivery of our member support work in Scotland and Wales.

Brian has been with Community Rail Network since 2006 and was previously the line officer on the beautiful Penistone Line.

07791 800429

Sarah Fatica

Head of people & funding

Sarah is responsible for overseeing our people agenda and culture. Focussing on achieving an inclusive and engaging workplace where our talented people are supported to develop and succeed in role. Sarah also oversees the strategic and operational development of our funding and works alongside the fundraising team to grow and diversify income streams.

Sarah has spent her career in the Third Sector with a focus on HR, fundraising and project management & delivery.  She is an advocate for volunteering and the benefits this brings, both personally and at community level. She loves walking, reading and baking (and eating) cakes.

07983 919702

Sarah Chilton

Head of communications & policy

Sarah has over twenty years’ experience of working in a communications environment. Prior to joining the voluntary sector Sarah worked in the European Parliament and has excellent knowledge of the Westminster political scene. She has worked in the private sector as head of Neil Stewart Associates North and as a Director at ABL Health. She joined the voluntary sector in 2002 as head of public affairs at Centrepoint and then as director of policy and communications at Rainer (now Catch 22). Sarah has a BA (Hons) in History and Politics and a MA in European Politics. She enjoys running with her 2 dogs Blaze and Tess.

07979 543919

Dawn Bigland

Administration manager

Dawn is responsible for the efficient running of our office and administration. Dawn’s remit includes ensuring the administration of our memberships and grants, dealing with a wide range of queries, and generally making sure the team is organised and phone and IT equipment is working.

Dawn has been with Community Rail Network since 2005. Dawn loves to travel, walking, and has recently taken up running.

07977 140879

Paul Webster

Community rail support manager

Paul leads on supporting our members across the south and midlands, and is their main point of contact. He provides a wide range of support and advice on planning, projects and ideas, and brings particular expertise on use of digital within the voluntary and community sector.

Working with small community organisations and non-profit groups for almost 20 years, Paul is a person who can find answers and connect you to the right person, helping to turn ideas into activities. Away from work Paul can be found exploring old railway lines on his bike, or as part of the team who have preserved the prototype High Speed Train.

07876 743096

Ian Davis

Community rail support officer

Ian provides support to our members across the north of England, and is their main point of contact. As well as providing advice and help with planning and a broad range of activities and projects, Ian brings an excellent appreciation of social inclusion, mental health and wellbeing, and is working with a range of partners in this area.

As a qualified teacher Ian has worked for several years with vulnerable young people and adults with specialist support needs to gain confidence, self-esteem and participation in community projects. Outside of work Ian enjoys horticulture, and has a keen interest in ancient history and the sciences.

Daniel Wright

Community rail support officer

Daniel is responsible for working with South Western Railway, finding uses for redundant station buildings, and more widely in supporting community rail in the surrounding area.

He has experience in transport journalism and local transport planning. Away from Community Rail Network, Daniel writes about transport architecture and design, and transport’s impact on wider culture. He enjoys bird-watching and other nature activities, and likes being out on the water; he is learning to sail (although not very quickly).

07398 984784

Rhiannon-Jane Raftery

Community rail development coordinator

Rhiannon’s role is to advise, inspire and develop community rail partnerships across Wales & Borders. She works closely with Transport for Wales and Welsh Government creating opportunities to increase impact of community rail on wellbeing, sustainable and active travel, sustainability, and inclusion.

She brings expertise of working in sustainability in higher education and for a major conservation charity specializing in sustainable places, behavioral change, climate action and mitigation. She is a Fellow of the RSA, Member of the Institute of Place Management, director of a Community Development Trust and a qualified carbon literacy trainer. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring secondhand bookshops, walking, and reading.

07719 559975

Denise Havard

Community engagement coordinator - Scotland

Denise is responsible for supporting community rail partnerships around Scotland to promote sustainable travel, specifically amongst children, young people and families. Denise is originally from South Wales and has lived in Scotland for over 15 years as well as working in China and Lithuania. Her career ranges from managing services within the public sector, to interim programme and project management roles within Scottish Government.

Denise is a strong advocate for communities knowing best for what is needed in their area and has been a volunteer for most of her life. From counselling with Childline to trustee roles with Play Scotland, Queensferry Care and most recently Circus Eruption.

07956 093553

Alex Peel

Training and development coordinator

Alex is responsible for developing and coordinating Community Rail Network’s training and development programme alongside Naomi Lilley. Alex brings considerable expertise in training, organisational development and governance to her work in community rail.

Alex has 20 years’ experience of working in and with the voluntary and community sector at national, regional and local levels, including nine years at Bradford CVS providing organisational development training to community groups. In her spare time Alex enjoys walking, various crafts, attempting cryptic crosswords and looking after her allotment.

07495 318397

Naomi Lilley

Training and development coordinator

Naomi is responsible for developing and coordinating Community Rail Network’s training and development programme alongside Alex Peel.

Naomi has a long-standing interest in the role of travel in promoting health, recreation and education. She set up a national youth volunteering network for the Youth Hostel Association, and, at the University of Sheffield, led on school engagement and supporting academics to communicate their findings. Naomi has a long-standing interest in the role of travel in promoting health, recreation and education. Outside of work Naomi loves enjoying the great outdoors, painting and planning her next big adventure.

07495 318506

Hazel Bonner

Events and fundraising manager

Hazel is primarily responsible for the efficient planning, coordination, fundraising and management of our events programme, including seminars, conference and our showcase annual Community Rail Awards. Hazel is also responsible for our corporate partnership scheme.

Hazel has worked for Community Rail Network for more than 12 years, and her background experience includes several years working as the development officer for the Colne Valley car share scheme, preceded by a period working in the arts at a mental health organisation. In her spare time Hazel enjoys outdoor activities such as country walks and kayaking.

07786 190774

Nik Schofield

Communications and marketing manager

Nik is responsible for Community Rail Network’s communications and marketing. If you’ve seen a tweet from us or read Community Rail News, then that’s Nik. Nik also provides specialist advice to our members in the North on this topic.

Having previously provided marketing support in regional economic development, arts and heritage and the charity sector, Nik brings wide-ranging experience, including in copywriting, design, websites and social media. Outside of work, Nik is a keen runner, and also plays guitar.

07376 124964

Alice Mannion

Tourism and heritage officer

Alice is responsible for supporting members in the promotion of tourism and leisure travel on community rail lines, with a focus on the Northern region. She is also the main contact for our flagship rail tourism website, Scenic Rail Britain, and our annual Community Rail in the City event.

Having previously promoted her home city of Wakefield as manager of its tourist information centre, Alice now brings her 12 years of tourism experience to community rail. Outside of work, Alice enjoys being in the garden spending time with her two rabbits, Walter & Burt and is often researching her next travel adventure.

07376 124965

Patrick Southern

Senior administration assistant

Patrick provides administrative support primarily to Dawn, but also the rest of the team. Starting as maternity cover, he is enjoying forging a career in community rail. His duties includes dealing with incoming correspondence, processing applications to the funds we administer, and the maintenance of our records.

When not at work, he can often be found going beyond West Yorkshire on his bike, or voraciously consuming film and music.

07854 144431

Rob Lowson

Writer and researcher

Rob joined Community Rail Network in July 2018 as a writer and researcher. He is responsible for supporting the team in championing community rail work via the creation of engaging and relevant content and resources, including reports and practical case studies to help share good practice.

Rob previously worked in journalism, and also has experience of contributing to nationwide research projects in the field of physical education and sport.

Away from work, Rob is a keen cricketer and footballer and also sings and plays guitar and keyboards in a band.

07985 179605

Hannah Cottrill

Events and partnerships officer

Hannah works alongside Hazel to plan and deliver our busy Members’ events programme. You’ll meet her at our inspiring community rail seminars, webinars, Conference and flagship annual Awards, where she’s always on hand to help make sure things run smoothly.

Hannah’s background is in the not-for-profit sector focused on fundraising, events, partnerships and stakeholder relations. Beyond work, some of the things she enjoys are walking up mountains, swimming, cooking, learning Spanish and reading about history, travel & adventure.

07734 113989