Meet the Board at the VPCC

Victoria Park Community Centre has a friendly and supportive team running every aspect of the centre. We appreciate their hard work and introduce them here so you can get additional support or a friendly greeting when you arrive.


Mick Lerry – Chairman of the Board of Directors   Mick started his working life in Engineering, before training to become a teacher. Mick taught for 22 years in a Bridgwater Secondary School. In May 2011 Mick was elected as a Councillor for Sedgemoor District Council and Bridgwater Town Council, representing Victoria Ward. Mick is also a Director on the Board for Homes in Sedgemoor. Mick has recently joined the Board at Victoria Park Community Centre and he is looking forward to working with the other Board Directors and the community in the development of the Centre as an important hub for all its users.



Paul Cawkwell TD MInstAM (Dip), Director  Paul joined the Victoria and Newtown Springboard Ltd as a Director soon after the Community Centre opened its doors in 2008 and has been active in supporting the Centre ever since, including taking a leading role in creating the centres interim staff and management structure in 2009 and campaigning to improve the facilities on offer here in the Park. He became Vice Chair to Cllr Dawn Hill in 2010 and succeeded her to the post of Chair in Oct 2011. He takes an active part in improving health care provision across Somerset as a General Practice Assessor and as part of the NHS Local Improvement Team.

Over the past few years he has been instrumental in bringing Practice Based Commissioning to NHS Somerset and the creation of WyvernHealth.Com, which now forms the nucleus of the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group which will supersede Somerset PCT in 2013. Paul lives in near by Burnham on Sea and is the Manager at Victoria Park Medical Centre our onsite GP surgery. Prior to moving to Somerset he served in the Armed Forces at a senior level and on the staffs of several Headquarters at home and abroad. In his spare time he maintains a Freeman 22 on the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal.


Nicola Slawski B.A., D.M.S., Director Nicola has been involved with the Victoria Park Centre from its earliest stages, as the lead officer within Sedgemoor District Council responsible for the development of this Pathfinder project. Working with Cllr Dawn Hill, the South West Regional Development Agency, the leading local organisations on Somerset Local Strategic Partnership and the Newtown and Victoria Residents Association, she helped prove the need for the centre and draw down funding of £6m+ to enable it to be built.

Although Nicola took early retirement from her role as Group Manager, Community Services for Sedgemoor District Council in April 2010, she has continued to support the Centre and the Board, initially as Company Secretary (a role now performed by the Centre Manager, Doreen Baker) and, since November 2010, as a Director.

Nicola has over 30 years experience in local government in a variety of roles ranging from being a rural Parish Clerk to working in the Policy Units of two London Boroughs providing consultancy services to Council departments and their partner agencies. She spent over 10 years at Sedgemoor DC in various senior management roles concerned with community development and regeneration, including responsibility for community safety and CCTV, grants, environmental issues, funding programmes such as the Hamp SRB, forward planning and transportation, improvements to parks and open spaces and local partnerships.

Nicola took early retirement to have time to support her elderly parents in Surrey, but still contributes to regeneration in Somerset as a volunteer. In addition to her role at the Victoria Park Centre, she is the Chairperson of Somerset Levels and Moors Local Action, part of a European initiative to help communities and businesses in rural areas, and is also a trustee of the Somerset Rural Youth Project. She has recently completed an Advanced Diploma in Local History at Oxford University (via the Internet) and is hoping to develop this interest with research and further study. Her other interests include gardening, food, and long distance walking


Ivor Butt Director Ivor was born in Bridgwater and has served as a committee member and now Board member for about five years. After attending Blake Secondary School he worked in the building trade for a short spell before entering the hotel and catering trade. Ivor was an apprentice chef in the then Bristol Hotel in Bridgwater and then chef at various establishments including the legendary County Hotel in Taunton and Norton Manor Army camp.

Through the Eighties he served with T.A.V.R. ACC attaining the rank of Corporal with accelerated promotion in three years. Ivor retruned to Bridgwater from the Scilley Iles in 1990 and worked for Sedgemoor District Council. For the past eight years he has worked in the building trade.

Ivor’s main hobby is gardening and he is the proud keeper of two allotments. It’s no surprise that Ivor has served on the committee of the Bridgwater Allotment Tenants Association for the last 15 years as Vice Chair, Chair and for the past 8 years as president. He also enthusiastically helps and supports The Marketeers carnical club.


Cathy Burbidge Director Cathy has lived in Sedgemoor for the last 25 years and for most of that time worked at Bridgwater tax office where she was the bullying representative and also the sign language interpreter. Having deaf parents she had grown up with signing being as natural to her as speaking, an ability she also put into practise working part time at Bridgwater College supporting deaf/hard of hearing students. She now helps her husband run his car repair business in Bridgwater.

Cathy has been involved with the Victoria Centre since its opening as, at the time, she was the chair of the Bridgwater and District Credit Union which has its main office at the centre. She is well aware of all the challenges involved in setting up the centre. She has since become a member of the board.

Cathy has been involved with voluntary groups all her life from starting a Youth Club when she was aged 14, local Deaf Clubs, and a local group that linked Deaf and Hearing people, to charity shop work. She continues on the board of the Bridgwater and District Credit Union as well as organising and raising money for two local self-help cancer groups. She is also an active member of Lions International.

In her spare time, Cathy enjoys quizzes, holidays, and, if time allows, visits to places of historical and cultural interest. She also has an interest in classic cars being the owner of a 1954 Austin A40 Somerset and was an active member of Yeovil Car Club for a number of years, frequently helping on their stand at the Classic Car Show at Shepton Mallet and at the Classic Restoration Show also at Shepton Mallet.


John Rhodes BA (Hons) (Open), BSc (Hons) (Open) Director John lives in Wembdon with his wife of forty years. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.

John has had a career in Electrical Engineering with twenty years service to the Nuclear Power Industry. John has worked as a volunteer Adult Basic Education Tutor at Bridgwater College and following retirement from Hinkley Point, as a part-time lecturer at the College.

John has been a director of the Bridgwater and District Credit Union for nine years, serving four as chair. He was involved from the outset in the Victoria Park Community Centre and was instrumental in establishing Bridgwater and District Credit Union’s commitment to the centre where they have their office.

He is also vice chair of FOCUS (Forum of Credit Unions in Somerset) a Co-operative Consortium owned by the four Credit Unions in Somerset, established to provide services to its members & provide a central resource.

John is chair of Somerset’s Senior Walkers Club and helps run the Saturday Saunterers, a local leisure cycling group. John and his wife also work as volunteer Youth Hostel Association wardens occasionally during the summer.

In the past John has also served on the board of governors at Chilton Trinity School.

John is a qualified sports massage therapist, reflexologist and aromatherapist: interests he no long pursues. And he no longer runs marathons!


Gareth Hughes our Community Centre Manager – Company Secretary  has lived in Taunton for nearly 20 years and is married to Sarah, they have two children, a boy and a girl. Gareth has previously worked for a major restaurant chain as a deputy manager and also worked for 10 years as the Operations Manager for a Town Council near Bristol, his main interests are Rugby and Running. He is a great supporter of English rugby


Meet the Victoria Community Centre Team