Our board of Trustees and Staff

The Safer Tourism Foundation is led by its Board of Trustees:

Kathy Atkinson

Chief Executive

Kathy Atkinson

Kathy Atkinson was appointed as the first Chief Executive of the Safer Tourism Foundation in December 2016. She has a fundamental belief in the value of travel and is a backpacker at heart. Like many people, Kathy finds a discord between "holiday" and "health and safety". Her vision for the Foundation is as a charity that constructively challenges travel industry practice where necessary but which also enables and encourages people to travel well and widely, understanding and managing the risks they face but not being enslaved by them.

Kathy studied at Cambridge University and has spent the last 20 years working in the charity sector, having begun professional life working for Exxonmobil at Fawley Refinery. She has worked at Voluntary Service Overseas here in the UK and in Nepal, did a stint as a management consultant for a range of clients in the not for profit sector and spent seven years as Chief Executive for the Campaign for National Parks, during which time two new National Parks were designated - the New Forest and the South Downs.

As well as leading the establishment and development of the Safer Tourism Foundation, Kathy holds a non executive directorship within the NHS, as a lay member of a local clinical commissioning group. She lives in Guildford but visits the mountains whenever possible. In 2016 she and her husband took their kids out of school for a three month round-the-world backpacking adventure so the issues facing the Safer Tourism Foundation are very real for her. This summer Kathy and her family are planning a backpacking trip around the Yucatan.

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Ian Ailles

Chairman

Ian Ailles

Ian Ailles is the Chair of the Safer Tourism Foundation and works closely with the Trustees and CEO to ensure the aims of the charity are achieved.

A qualified accountant, Ian has worked in complex, customer facing organisations in both the public and private sector. Most recently, he has performed key leadership roles in the travel and leisure industry at Thomas Cook and Wyndham. He has also held executive, non-executive and consultancy roles for charities, start-up ventures and large organisations in sectors including NHS, education, care homes, IT and banking.

Ian is the Director General of the House of Commons – a position he has held since 2015. In this role, Ian is responsible for the delivery of effective and efficient services to MPs and the public.

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Hans Lagerweij

Hans Lagerweij

Hans holds an MBA from Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Until 2008 Hans hold various marketing and sales roles in Fast Moving Consumer Goods companies. In 2008, Hans combined his love for adventure travel and his expertise in commercial management when he became Managing Director of Sawadee Reizen in The Netherlands. In 2010, Hans moved to Toronto Canada and became president of Quark Expeditions, the leader in polar travel, operating cruises in one of the most unpredictable and potentially dangerous environments in the world. In 2015 Hans took over responsibility for all adventure brands within TUI Travel, a business that was sold to KKR in 2017. In 2018 Hans became CEO and President of boutique luxury cruise start-up Victory Cruise Lines, while he is also a proud trustee of the Safer Tourism Foundation in the UK.

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Janet Russell

OBE, CFCIEH

Janet Russell

Janet had a long career in local government , the last 10 years of which was as Director of Environment, Transport and Property at a large Metropolitan Authority where her responsibilities included overseeing corporate safety and emergency planning. She was a Member of the Better Regulation Task Force for 10years where reports she worked on included a review of Licensing , the compensation culture and hotels. On leaving local government she became President of her professional body the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. She currently is a non Executive Director of a CIC that works on carbon reduction and works for BEIS as an associate on Better Regulation.

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Gordon Lishman CBE

Gordon Lishman CBE

Gordon Lishman CBE was Director-General of Age Concern, leading the Age Concern group of charities and working with government on a wide range of campaigns which had a substantial effect on the lives of older people in the UK. As a founder officer of AGE – the European Platform for Older People and as the International Vice-President of the International Federation on Ageing, he advised governments around the world on policies and practice for older people. Gordon is an active member of the UK Liberal Democrats, serving on the Party’s Federal Board and a local councillor in Burnley. He was responsible for developing the Council of Asian Liberals & Democrats and the Africa Liberal Network and served as Chair of the Human Rights Committee of the Liberal International.

Gordon is Chair of the Gas Safe Charity which works with government and industry to improve gas safety and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in the UK.

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Sharon Wood

Sharon Wood

October 2006 and my life was about to change forever. I kissed my children goodbye as they left with their father for a holiday in Corfu. That was the last time I saw Christi and Bobby alive, a day that will haunt me until we are once again together.

They died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a gas boiler that had not been correctly installed, serviced or maintained. My children died needlessly, due to systemic failings within the travel industry.

Their tragic story is well documented, as is the ‘David v Goliath’ decade long legal battle that ensued. I fought for justice for my children with a passion and determination like only a grieving mother could. Robbed of my children and the following ten years of my life, perseverance came at a personal price, but it has also done so much to raise the profile of the dangers of carbon monoxide and encouraged holiday makers to think more carefully about their safety when travelling abroad.

The Safer Tourism Foundation was born of some very open and frank conversations between myself and the current CEO of Thomas Cook, Peter Fankhauser. We couldn’t change what had happened but together we could be influential in making tourism safer for the future, a lasting legacy for Christi and Bobby.

So I am very proud to be a trustee of the charity and pledge my commitment to ensuring that it will help in educating travellers about the dangers they may face, promoting safer tourism and ensuring that the travel industry is transparent, honest and respectful.

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