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Meet the Open Doors Board

Open Doors Board Members in front of the Palace TheatreOpen Doors Board Members work alongside our staff and volunteers to drive the Open Doors programme forward.

The Board helps to develop the Open Doors programme, reviewing and approving plans and strategy; monitors activity to ensure outcomes are being achieved; ensures the programme meets its commitments to funders, stakeholders and the people of Newark and Sherwood; and communicates effectively with stakeholders and the community about their aims and values.

A Message from our Chair

"I would like to introduce myself as Chair of the Open Doors Board, and the other members of our Board. Collectively, we have experience of working in Green Spaces, Arts, Music, Education, Universities and Charities, bringing together our varied experiences, backgrounds and perspectives. This wealth of knowledge and representation helps us support and challenge the running of the Open Doors Project. We meet four times a year to provide effective governance and oversight of activities, operations and finance, ensuring that Arts Council England’s investment principles show in the arts activities offered, and in the culture and working practices within the Heritage and Culture team in our district."


"I hope you will participate in the Open Doors arts activities we’re putting on in communities, schools and arts venues in Newark and Sherwood until Spring 2026. I look forward to meeting you."

Helen Rushby

Role on Board: Chair

Before retiring in 2015, Helen was People Development Manager at English Heritage for ten years. Prior to this Helen acquired six years of experience running an acting agency across theatre film, TV and video, as well as providing consultancy and training for Social Enterprises and Not-for-Profits. During 2001-2010, Helen was Vice-Chair on the Board of Warley Woods Community Trust, negotiating transformation in the running of this 100-acre community park securing Heritage Lottery Funding, now a charity. Since retiring, Helen was a Business Mentor for the Princes Trust from 2015-2019, is currently Chair of Newark Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline and Vice-Chair of the Board of Governors at Kirklington Primary School.

Dale Shaw

Role on Board: Vice Chair

Dale’s background is in Senior Management and is currently Vice-Chair of the Tenant Engagement Board for Newark and Sherwood District Council, and Chair of the Rural Local Influence Network. Dale is committed to driving positive change, making a difference, and helping all voices to be heard and is experienced at working within the Local Authority.

Helene Burd

Role on Board: Board Member

After growing up in Sweden, then studying at the London School of Economics, and the University of Nottingham, Helene worked in the UK and abroad for the British Council. She currently works as Senior Quality and Standards Advisor for Nottingham Trent University on course design and approval, and policy development. Prior to this, Helene was Accreditation Manager for the Institute of Materials Minerals and Mining (IoM3), visiting universities and companies in the UK and abroad, accrediting courses and graduate training schemes against the UK Engineering Council’s professional standards. Helene has extensive experience working with a range of diverse groups including through her voluntary work as Chair at Collingham and District Pre-School, Governor at John Blow Primary School, founding member of the Collingham and District Local History Society and Editor of the Fleet Magazine. Her work has also included supporting post-16 learners with basic maths and literacy skills at the Hill Holt Wood social enterprise.

Robert Winterton

Role on Board: Board Member, Dynamism Champion

Robert worked in London in Sales, Business Development and Management. More recently Robert worked as a Business Development Consultant within the charities sector. Robert is greatly experienced in marketing and business management. Currently, Robert is a trustee for High Ground, a Services Charity focusing on Horticultural therapy and Rural Employment, and a school trustee and is working to become a magistrate.

Lucy Reid

Role on Board: Board Member, Ambition and Quality Champion

Lucy has been in music education all her working life. She began as a peripatetic woodwind and piano teacher and in 2001 began her journey within Nottinghamshire County Council working with the Arts Support Service. She later became Training Co-ordinator and then went on to lead the Instrumental Teaching Service. In 2017 Lucy became Music Services Manager for Inspire which incorporated the teaching service for Nottinghamshire and the Music Hub. Lucy continues to teach in both Primary and Secondary schools on a weekly basis. Through this work Lucy has developed a strong understanding of the requirements of being a National Portfolio Organisation.

Dot Varney

Role on Board: Board Member, Inclusivity and Relevance Champion

Dot is experienced in heritage and theatre through her past work and hobbies, including acting, stage direction, costumed interpretation and education. She has a degree in History, Museums and Heritage studies and a post graduate qualification in Heritage Tourism. Dot has worked in a variety of paid and voluntary roles within the heritage industry. These include positions with the National Trust, Historic Royal Palaces and the National Maritime Museum. Informed by her own experiences of living with disabilities Dot believes that arts and culture should be accessible to and enjoyed by everyone.

Grahame Willis

Role on Board: Board Member

Grahame is a musician and peripatetic music teacher working with young people and is committed to making culture more accessible. Being connected with numerous performance groups, including choral and operatic societies, means Grahame is an experienced performer. He knows first-hand the benefits that taking part in music can offer including skills and personal development, and the value of investing next generation audiences and professionals.

Fiona Theokritoff

Role on Board: Board Member, Environment Responsibility Champion 

Fiona is a freelance poet, writing mentor and creative writing tutor, based in Newark since 2002. Through her current work with Inspire as well as local initiatives including Newark Book Festival and Radio Newark, Fiona is well connected locally. Her first degree was environmental science and ecology, followed by careers in children’s publishing and as a complementary health practitioner. In 2019 she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University and established a varied writing practice which includes writing poems on scientific subjects - and sometimes, shoes. She is experienced in programming community arts and cultural events and workshops.

Catherine Lester

Role on Board: Board Member

In 2019 Catherine gained her Master’s degree in Heritage and Interpretation Studies, and has experience of theatre through undergraduate training and volunteering. Catherine currently works at Burghley House as Heritage Officer, and prior to this worked for Surrey County Libraries. Catherine is experienced in working for local government and heritage sites, and sees the great potential in both history and theatre for inspiring and bringing communities together. 

Councillor Rowan Cozens

Role on Board: Board Member

Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Heritage, Culture and the Arts at Newark and Sherwood District Council.