Board of Trustees

Beamish Unlimited

Meet Beamish’s Board of Trustees. The Board is made up of volunteers who give their expertise, experience and their valuable time to the museum.

Chris Loughran, Chair

Chris is Co-Founder and Director of Symbio Impact Ltd, a sustainable financing and strategy consultancy working with impact-driven leaders to fund solutions to global challenges. He is also a Senior Advisor at The HALO Trust, a leading international NGO (non-governmental organisation) working in 30 countries affected by conflict, and an Honorary Fellow at Manchester University.

Chris grew up in County Durham. His professional background is in senior leadership, operations and devising and delivering strategies to influence high-level political policy and donor decision-making. He specialises in international development and foreign policy and is an accomplished spokesperson, representing multiple organisations at the United Nations.

He has led policy and influence for leading British NGOs, directed multi-million dollar conflict recovery programmes overseas and worked in the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall. Chris is a Trustee and former Vice-Chair of Platfform, Wales’s leading mental health charity, and also a Director of the Association of British Orchestras. He holds a First Class BA from Oxford and a MSc in Conflict and Development Studies from the University of London.

Chris splits his time between Newcastle and Manchester with his husband James, and their mini-Dachshund Bob. Outside of work he spends his time cooking, gardening and enjoying music and the outdoors.

Dr Dan Jackson, Vice Chair

Dr Dan Jackson is an experienced senior leader in the public and voluntary sector with extensive experience of leading governance, policy, strategic communications and partnership development. Having previously worked in local government, he is now the Director of Policy and Public Affairs at NHS North East & North Cumbria ICB. Dan was a founder member of the Northumbria World War One Commemoration Project which won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2018.

Dan is also the best-selling author of The Northumbrians: North East England and its People, A New History, which was a Sunday Times Book of the Year in 2019He holds a PhD in British Political History from Northumbria University and has written for The New Statesman, Prospect and History Today and is a regular contributor to UnHerd. He has also appeared as an expert on The Rest is History podcast, BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? and Radio 4’s Start the Week.

Dan lives in Northumberland with his partner and their four children, two dogs and a horse, and can often be found in the Gallowgate End at St James’ Park.

Dr Elouise Leonard-Cross, Vice Chair

Dr Elouise Leonard-Cross is an Occupational Psychologist and Head of People Strategy & Experience for Northumbrian Water Limited. A ‘curious collaborator’, with a squiggly career and thirst for learning, Elouise thrives on asking and exploring the questions to help organisations be happy, healthy and productive places to work.

A Chartered Fellow of the CIPD, she is passionate about making organisations human and creating the conditions for innovation and growth.  An ambassador and advocate for the North East as a brilliant place to live, learn and work, she chaired the North East CIPD Branch for 10 years, is Chair of the North East Common Purpose Advisory Group, holds NED roles in education, is an Enterprise Advisor for the North East of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Mentor.

David Alexander

David moved to the North East when he joined Gateshead College as Chief Executive and Principal in June 2021. He was previously vice Principal at West College Scotland, one of the largest educational institutions in the country.

With 20 years’ experience at a senior level in further education, David’s career also spans roles across the public sector and Board positions for the Scottish Funding Council, Victim Support Scotland and the General Teaching Council for Scotland amongst others. He is also a qualified accountant. David is a passionate advocate of lifelong learning and providing opportunities for all in our communities.

Mauricio Armellini

Mauricio has been the Bank of England’s Agent for the North East since 2014. Previously, he was Chief Economist at the North East LEP and Principal Economist at the Department for Work and Pensions. He has been a member of the Government Economic Service since 2008.

Mauricio came to the North East in 2005 to undertake his PhD studies in economics at Durham University, following his MA in the USA. He also taught economics at undergraduate and postgraduate level at Durham University.

Before leaving his native Uruguay in 2004, he worked as a professional economist in the financial and non-for-profit sectors.

Mauricio’s other roles include being a Governor at Durham Johnston Comprehensive School, a member of the business advisory board at Newcastle Business School, and a Mentor at Durham University’s Van Mildert College.

Stephen King

Stephen is an experienced and award-winning executive and non-executive director in large sector leading organisations and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a member of the Institute of Directors. He enjoyed a 27 year career at leading bus company Go North East, which took him from youth trainee to boardroom as Commercial Director.

He currently sits on the board at New College Durham as a Corporation Governor, Beamish Museum as a Board Trustee and Visit County Durham as a Non Executive Director.

He is a regular speaker at Teesside University Business School on Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance on their MBA Business course and is a mentor on the Captured Programme at Newcastle University Business School. He is also an Enterprise Advisor with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership where he is paired with North Durham Academy to support its career guidance agenda.

Rachael Lennon

Rachael is a heritage practitioner, curator and writer.

She sits on the Collections Management Group for Queer Britain, the UK’s new national LGBTQ+ museum. In 2020, she founded the Queer Heritage and Collections Network, an award-winning UK-wide research network that provides training, guidance and support to museums and heritage organisations working with LGBTQ+ collections.

With particular experience in working class, women’s and LGBTQ+ histories, Rachael was the first National Specialist for Inclusive Histories at the National Trust from 2017 to 2021. Whilst at the National Trust, she founded and led the organisation’s first nationally curated series of artist commissions, exhibitions, community events, publications and podcasts across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Programmes included Women and Power, People’s Landscapes, and Prejudice and Pride, which Clare Balding claimed “will change the way history is written and thought about from this point onwards”.

Rachael is a Trustee of Redhills Miners’ Hall in Durham and manages cultural partnerships at Newcastle University. She has worked for a range of independent museums and galleries across the North.

Rachael grew up in Birtley and Chester-le-Street and now lives in Durham City. Her new book Wedded Wife: A Feminist History of Marriage was published in 2023.

Conan McKinley

Conan is the Director of Asset Management at Your Housing Group, a provider of 29,000 homes predominantly in the North West.

Having served a five-year Building Surveyor apprenticeship at Harrogate Borough Council, Conan spent the following 10 years with Home Group, a national social housing landlord before moving to Durham and joining NorthStar Housing in Teesside, his first Director role, in 2013. Conan then joined Gentoo Group based in Sunderland in 2017 as Director of Asset Strategy before taking on his current role with Your Housing Group where he has been for the last three years.

He has extensive knowledge and 25 years’ experience in construction and the social housing sector, 10 years at Director level, to become a well-recognised strategic leader in this field.

Outside of work, Conan lives with his wife and three young children in Durham where, in amongst trips out with his family, he enjoys watching rugby, having played in his younger years at Yarm, Knaresborough and Ripon.

Councillor Elizabeth Scott

Elizabeth is a Cabinet Member and is the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Economy and Partnerships, which covers Economic Development, Area Action Partnerships (AAPs), Town Centres, Regeneration, Skills agenda, Spatial Planning/County Durham Plan, Strategic Transport/Local Transport Plan, Development Control & Planning, Tourism and Culture, Libraries, Archives.

She is an active member on the boards of Beamish Museum, The Bowes Museum, Locomotion, Visit County Durham, The Durham BID Company, CDC Enterprise Agency and Derwentside Enterprise Agency.

Elizabeth is passionate about County Durham and wants to see the county become a better place to live and work and is keen to see the local economy thrive. She is also keen to support local organisations who are making a difference in the lives of Durham’s residents and especially those who support the most vulnerable in society.

She has lived in Durham for most of her life and lives and works on a small farm on the outskirts of Durham City with her husband and four children. She is currently a Governor at the Durham Johnston school and of St Margaret’s C of E primary school. Her professional background is in economic development and regeneration and she ran her own business for 13 years.

Elizabeth has represented the Neville’s Cross Ward on the County Council since 2017 and was elected as a Parish Councillor in May 2018.

Bridget Stratford

Bridget is 26 and from Ponteland, and says she is delighted to be appointed as a Trustee at Beamish Museum.

Growing up in the North East, she often visited the museum with school and with her family and has very fond memories. She says she is “excited to be able to contribute to the brilliant work that is already taking place and work with the new board members to continue to support the museum”.

Bridget is the founder and Co-ordinator of a special project called North East Solidarity and Teaching (N.E.S.T) which supports refugees and asylum seekers of all ages with education and integration through a wide range of provision including youth groups, adult English classes and trips and residentials. She says “it’s a privilege to support the forced migration community and I absolutely love my work”.

Bridget is also a qualified Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner, having trained in South Tyneside Hospital Trust, practicing as a therapist in Blaydon and Wrekenton. Before this, she studied a BSc Hons and MSc in Psychology and in Clinical Psychology.

Bridget is passionate about working with local people to increase accessibility and equity of opportunities.

Ian Thomas

Ian is Destination Director at NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI), where he leads the destination team, having been with NGI for over 10 years. He co-ordinates and oversees the research carried out on behalf of the destination, as well as the activity and projects which support tourism businesses in the region.

Ian has worked in Destination Management for almost 20 years, studying Tourism Operations and Management at university before beginning his tourism career at Northumberland Tourist Board. Ian sits on the VisitEngland Research Advisory Group, represents NGI on the North East Tourism Alliance and is a Trustee for Beamish Museum.

Ian’s expertise lies in the research which supports the development and innovation of the North East visitor economy. Ian helped lead the North East’s bid to become the pilot Destination Development Partnership scheme, which will see NGI work on behalf of the region alongside Visit Northumberland and Visit County Durham to develop the North East as a must-visit destination whilst attracting private investment and driving growth.