Abbeycroft Trustees

As a not for profit social enterprise (charity) with an annual turnover of £12 million, we reinvest all our profits into services and initiatives.

We work in partnership with a number of local organisations which include West Suffolk Council, Babergh Council, Active Suffolk, Suffolk Mind, Allied HealthCare Professionals and the West Suffolk CCG.

Abbeycroft has over 600 members of staff working across 19 centres mostly in Suffolk, and our Board of Trustees are responsible for the strategic governance of the business.

They are an ambassador for all that we do.


Sarah Howard MBE

Sarah Howard MBE – Chair of Trustees

Sarah Howard is a local business owner and is the Chair of the British Chamber of Commerce.

Sarah received an MBE in 2015 for services to the local community.


With a background in recruitment and management, Sarah has worked for high profile organisations including JP Morgan and KPMG. Sarah runs a small software consultancy called Sarand Business Software with her husband Andy in Haverhill and is Chair of Haverhill based biotech start up Codikoat.

Sarah is the Independent Chair of the West Suffolk Alliance, which works together to improve the health and care system in West Suffolk for all people.
Sarah has been a member of Haverhill Leisure Centre since she moved to the area 25 years ago, starting with her three children with Aqua Babes.

David Howells

David Howells – Vice Chair

David’s background is accounting but he has broad experience in industry and more recently in Further Education. David has held senior roles across a number of sectors and is highly skilled in strategic finance. Now semi-retired David runs a small business consultancy supporting a range of organisations.


David has been instrumental in supporting the growth of Abbeycroft Leisure particularly through two mergers with similar leisure trusts. David is the current Vice Chair of the board, Chair of the Finance and Business Development Committee and a member of the Marketing Committee. Along with colleagues David has supported the board in all financial aspects of the business and used his diverse experience to support the leadership team. The Board provides a good sounding board for new ventures and holds the leadership team to account on a wide range of matters relating to the operation of the organisation

David is passionate about improving the health wellbeing of communities through sustainable and effective initiatives.

Simon Burton

Simon Burton – Trustee

Simon Burton runs the Bury St Edmunds office of commercial property consultants Eddisons inc Barker Storey Matthews, specialising in the sale and lettings of commercial property and land, primarily in the office, industrial and retail sectors, as well as dealing with property investment and development throughout West Suffolk and South Norfolk.


In addition to this Simon is also a trustee of Havebury Housing Partnership, where he sits on the Development Committee, is a Business Ambassador for Bury St Edmunds on behalf of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in West Suffolk and a board member of Our Bury St Edmunds.

Simon has worked at Eddisons / BSM since 2003 and became a Director in 2012. He was born and educated in Bury St Edmunds and is passionate about the continued success of the town and involved in a number of local organisations and sports clubs.

Rosemary Mason

Rosemary Mason – Trustee

Rosemary has held senior leadership positions in global manufacturing companies for over 30 years. She has run factories in many parts of the world including Europe, North and South America, Asia and Africa. This also involved new factory start ups and business relocations.


Her last executive role was as MD W Europe and the UK for Huhtamaki, a global business headquartered in Finland. As well as responsibility for sales, profit and strategy, she also had extensive experience in business transformation, culture change, mergers and acquisitions.

Now semi-tired, Rosemary works as a consultant and business adviser and is also a Trustee and adviser to other charities and NGOs.

Marie Mills

Marie Mills – Trustee

Marie took voluntary redundancy from her role as a Senior Manager with Lloyds Bank in 2010. During her 37 year career Marie held a range of managerial roles in the following areas: Branch Banking, Business and Commercial Banking, Training, Service and Sales, Wealth Financial Planning and Coaching.


Marie has been a regular user of the Kingfisher Leisure Centre in Sudbury since 2002. In 2011 she welcomed the opportunity to apply for a role as a Trustee of South Suffolk Leisure and also served as Chair of the Legal and Financial Working Group for South Suffolk Leisure providing advice on Finance.

When Abbeycroft Leisure merged with South Suffolk Leisure in 2018 Marie was very pleased to join the Board to continue her role as a Trustee. She is a very strong advocate of the health benefits provided by Abbeycroft Leisure, as they provide such a superb opportunity for regular exercise and social interaction with others

Tim Mutum

Tim Mutum – Trustee

Tim spent his working life in local government including eight years as Head of Leisure and Community Services at Babergh District Council, where he led on the creation of South Suffolk Leisure in 2006. 


Following retirement, he was appointed as a Trustee of South Suffolk Leisure in 2012, becoming chairman in 2013. Tim joined Abbeycroft Leisure following the merger between Abbeycroft and South Suffolk Leisure in 2018. He has considerable experience as a charity trustee, particularly on governance issues. Tim served on the Board of Crohn’s and Colitis UK for 10 years and is currently vice chairman of Suffolk Mind.

Tim has been involved in brass bands for over 50 years as a player, administrator and concert promoter. He is now a leading authority on brass band recordings and the history of the movement, writing extensively for the band media on these topics and has also broadcast on BBC Radio 2.

Tim lives in Pinewood, just outside of Ipswich, with his wife and has two children and three grandchildren.

John Turnbull

John Turnbull  – Trustee

John was a trustee on the board of South Suffolk Leisure from 2005 to 2018 during which time the facilities in Hadleigh were developed to include a fitness centre. John was appointed to the board of Abbeycroft Leisure in 2018 when the SSL and Abbeycroft trusts merged. Since joining Abbeycroft a new swimming pool has been completed adding to the facilities in Hadleigh.


John worked in the telecommunications industry for 35 years until 2008 when he retired and trained as a teacher in mathematics. He is currently the Chair of Governors at St Mary’s primary school in Hadleigh. John has experience in Project Management, IT and telecommunications, gained when he managed a team working on the development of broadband, while working for BT. He also has experience in education, working with young people teaching maths and as a qualified sailing instructor teaching sailing during the Summer. John is married and lives in Hadleigh, making great use of the new fitness centre and pool. John is keen to promote and make health and wellbeing accessible to all sectors and age groups within the county.

Kate Vaughton

Kate Vaughton – Trustee

Kate has recently joined East of England Ambulance Service as Director Of Integration having
previously worked in the same role at Suffolk and North-East Essex for West Suffolk since 2016.


After completing the NHS Management Training Scheme in the East of England she moved to London, where she held senior operational roles within Charing Cross, Hammersmith and St Mary’s hospitals.

Kate then moved to Suffolk to work with the regional assurance team, supporting a portfolio of trust boards. She later joined the North-East Essex CCG Board as Chief Operating officer supporting the turnaround of Colchester Hospital.

Kate has led on significant large-scale redesign and recovery programmes and is passionate
about addressing inequalities and transforming public services.’

Sir Robin Wales

Sir Robin Wales – Trustee

Sir Robin Wales had a long and distinguished local government career, first as the Leader of the London Borough of Newham from 1995 to 2002, and then as its Elected Mayor from 2002 to 2018.

He has held numerous positions during that time, notably on the Boards of both the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) and the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC). Robin is well known across local government and brings direct experience of working with stakeholders in order to achieve and to get the best outcomes possible for the community.


Robin is also Executive Deputy Chairman of Municipal Partners, an organisation that develops housing and real estate solutions that have social impact.

He has a strongly held belief in the power of sport and activity to make a real difference to the lives and health of people, and in learning about Abbeycroft Leisure, and its vision and values, he was pleased to join the Board in March 2021.

David Wright

David Wright

David was appointed as a Trustee in March 2021. He is Chair of the Marketing Committee and a member of the Organisational Development Committee. David was formerly Marketing Director of The Police Mutual Group and has previously held Executive and senior management positions with Aviva, Lloyds Bank and Procter & Gamble.


David and his wife Jo moved to Bury St Edmunds from rural Norfolk some five years ago and count themselves lucky to live in such a welcoming and vibrant community. Being close to their three grandchildren who live in the town is a blessing too. Wearing yellow and green on match days less so!

Now retired from full-time work, David is a volunteer consultant with The Cranfield Trust and a Trustee at Our Special Friends. Since retiring David is busier than ever dividing his time between travel, voluntary and consultancy work and spending time with his grandchildren while they still tolera