Our WEA Ambassador role is aimed at anyone who can talk informally, passionately and realistically about the challenges and rewards of studying as an adult. The role involves contributing to the communication of WEA priorities, fundraising and supporting student and membership recruitment. If you know of anyone that you think would want to fulfil this type of volunteer role, then please complete the nomination form here and send to the volunteering mailbox at volunteering@wea.org.uk 

A role profile is also included here with further detail of what is expected of the role and how we will support the ambassadors going forward. Meet our ambassadors below.

East Midlands

Dr Cheryl Turner

I am a Senior Research Fellow at the Learning and Work Institute (L&WI, formerly NIACE), adult education consultant, and Chair of Governors at Fircroft Adult Education College.  I have 40 years’ experience in adult learning, including working as a WEA Tutor Organiser in mid Derbyshire and central Nottingham, teaching in community, FE and HE settings, organising rural and inner-city programmes and being Head of Learning in Families and Communities at L&WI until 2014. I have researched, written, published and presented on adult learning in the UK and internationally. 

Lisa Robinson

In the past few years, I have worked on a number of projects aimed at widening participation in WEA provision. I’m currently the Director of Bright Ideas Nottingham, a partner organisation delivering WEA projects in diverse communities. These include ‘Tackling Race Inequalities’, ‘Take Part Provision’ (active learning for active citizenship) and ‘Women Leading for Change’. As an ambassador, I aim to build the profile of the WEA through continued partnership working, community blogs and social media.

Karen Chouhan

I am a Lead Equalities Officer for the National Education Union, and was previously a Senior  Area Education Manager for the Workers Educational Association in the East Midlands. 

I have lived in Leicester since 1975 and worked at the WEA and in FE as an English and ESOL teacher, and in HE for De Montfort University for 12 years as the programme lead for the MA in Community Education and Youth Work. 

I have also worked as a CEO for a national race equality charity and won several awards for anti- racist work and tackling Islamophobia. In 2005,I was named by Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust as a  ‘Visionary for a Just and Peaceful World’. They funded my work on ‘Equanomics’ (Equality via Economic Justice) for 5 years. 


Marjorie Mayo

From my first involvement with the WEA, as a tutor in Ruskin College in Oxford, I’ve subsequently collaborated with the WEA on learning for active citizenship programmes and on related research and publications. I am part of the ‘Take Part’ network on learning for active citizenship, the International Association for Community Development and have Trade Union education contacts.

Tim Melville-Ross

I am a firm believer in lifelong learning, finding that I still have the capacity to learn in my 8th decade! The appalling shortages of opportunities for lifelong learning and of good learning and development opportunities for disadvantaged people are a national disgrace and demand a fundamental change in policy and significant investment. The WEA is successfully addressing these issues, but far more activity than is currently possible is necessary. 

Thanks to a good quality education I have been fortunate enough in my career to be CEO of Nationwide, Director General of the Institute of Directors, and Chair of various organisations including Investors in People, the Higher Education Funding Council and a London NHS hospital trust. Now it’s time for me to do my best to help the WEA as both a volunteer and an ambassador.

Shakira Martin

Biography coming soon

Peter Shukie

Biography coming soon

North East

Shona Alexander

Biography coming soon

Sarah Hellawell

Biography coming soon

North West

Jane Cordell

In 2002, Sean, my brother, set up two annual prizes in my Mum’s name – Olive Cordell. I have been stunned and humbled by the commitment, drive and quality of the winners, usually against huge odds. I was a teacher for 10 years and still do work as a trainer. As a deaf person, I observe the terrible impact of the high levels of inequality that we have in the UK. Reducing this inequality is my top priority.

Geoffrey Appleton

I was the Area Director for HM Courts Service in Cheshire and Merseyside. After retiring I worked as a non-executive director in the NHS serving as Vice Chair of Liverpool Heart and Chest NHS Foundation Trust. 

I used to Chair the Safeguarding Adults Board in Cheshire West and Chester and I am the Governor and Deputy Chair at Cowley International College and a Foundation Trustee of Liverpool Cathedral.


Bashabi Fraser

As a poet, editor, writer and translator, I have long been aware of the power of education and literacy. I worked as a coordinator for WEA Scotland as part of the ‘Peoples of Edinburgh’ project, that engaged the diverse communities of Edinburgh and lead to a major exhibition.

Joyce Connon

Biography coming soon

Barbara Casey

Biography coming soon

Emma Whitelock

I’ve had over 25 years of experience working in the voluntary sector within organisations striving for equality of access and outcomes in learning, citizenship, volunteering and employment, working with disabled people, carers and families. Currently the CEO at Lead Scotland (lead.org.uk) since October 2015, the Vice Chair of Learning Link Scotland and an Associate Assessor for Education Scotland.  Lead Scotland provides learning, befriending and helpline services, which act as catalysts, enabling disabled young people, adults and carers people to make positive changes in their lives.

Shirley Howitt

Biography coming soon

Wendy Burton

Biography coming soon


Amy King

After winning the 2014 Young Adult Learner award, I met WEA Chief Executive, Ruth Spellman, and spoke to her about my passion to help others engage with education.

I’m involved with an educational charity aimed at encouraging women to get into science and I think this is a fantastic opportunity to introduce people to the WEA. Through adult learners I’ve been in contact with MPs and organisations; I aim to use these contacts to promote the WEA.

Nadine Dereza

I first came across the WEA when I chaired the WEA Parliamentary Event launching the inaugural WEA awards in 2012. I am an award-winning journalist and present business, news and entertainment programmes on TV and radio. I currently present CNBC’s Internet of Things: Powering the Digital Economy - a technology programme investigating how digital innovation is reshaping industries. I also facilitate and host conferences, panel discussions and live events for a diverse range of clients across many sectors in the UK and abroad.

As founder and Media Director of PS Programmes, my team and I deliver presentations skills coaching, media training and crisis media management programmes to some of the best-known brands. I am a Judge for the Business Books Awards and co-author of Insider Secrets of Public Speaking.

I proudly promote the WEA through my networks and the media.

South West

Dr Hadrian Cook

I teach and write on environmental science, environmental policy and landscape history. I was educated in the universities of Sheffield, London and East Anglia and have taught in schools. I served on the full-time academic staff of the University of London, at Wye College and Imperial College and until recently was on the staff of Kingston University, London. I have worked for the Harnham Water Meadows Trust in Salisbury, Harper Adams University and also worked as an independent environmental consultant. I have taught landscape history, local history, geology and environmental social science and collaborated with English literature, art history and archaeological tutors in teaching adult classes.

Edna Warwick

Biography coming soon

Tracy Jeffery

Biography coming soon

Natalie Chadwick

I have worked in the Trade Union movement with UNISON since 2007, previously I worked in the NHS as a non clinical Theatre Coordinator in Orthopaedics. I have always had a passion for learning and after working as an Organiser in the union I have recently been able to gain my dream job as the Regional Learning and Development Organiser for UNISON in the South West Region.

I support branches to set up learning activities and run taster sessions. Recruit and develop Union learning reps who are volunteers spreading the word about learning in their workplaces. I oversee and support the Member learning programme UNISON has to offer for its members across the region. I really enjoy empowering our members through learning and cannot wait to share the amazing opportunities available to members and their families via the WEA programme. 

Nigel Taylor

On leaving school I worked in the Civil Service for a Government Minister and as a Clerk of Court in the High Court in London. I then moved into Sales and Marketing in the petroleum industry. I have since worked in a Sales Account Manager role, successfully combining my knowledge of finance and commercial affairs with an ability to communicate and form relationships with a diverse range of people within both Lloyds Banking Group.

I enjoy volunteering with the WEA and have recently qualified to become a tutor with them in the South West. I am currently writing a Pre-Retirement Planning course for roll-out in 2020.

West Midlands

Martin Yarnitt

I’ve been aware of the WEA over many years, having been involved in different capacities: both as a tutor organiser in Liverpool and also through my work with the Community Learning Champions. Most recently I’ve been involved with the Association through my involvement in Talk Shop with the WEA in 2014 and 2015.

Amanda French

I have taught in higher, further, adult education and the voluntary sector, in the West Midlands for over 30 years, including a stint in the WEA as Regional Co-ordinator for Skills for Life back in the 1990s. I amcurrently Head of Professional Development, Research and Enterprise and a Reader in Teaching and Learning at Birmingham City University’s School of Education and Social Work. My particular research interests include academic writing practices and development, social justice in education and creative critical pedagogies and methodologies.

Tom Rigby

Biography coming soon

Dr Ian Manborde

Biography coming soon

Linda Bingham

I am currently Lord Mayor of Coventry. Adult education has meant that I have been able to change my life dramatically, support my family and gain experiences that I would never have dreamt of. At 38 I took up adult education classes when our eldest child was studying GCSE and our youngest child was three. I also joined the Open University in order to gain a degree: he first year was with the aid of a bursary and subsequently with the aid of the Civil Service. Some of the courses were run by the WEA in Birmingham. I gained a Diploma in European Humanities and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in 1994. Whilst being a Councillor I have continued education with in-house training, a Bishop’s Certificate in Discipleship, (I am a Eucharistic Minister and Altar Server) and taken a Certificate in Local Governance and Law which I hope will enable me to obtain an M.A. in the future.

Penny Vincent

Biography coming soon

Yorkshire and Humber

Ann Walker

I was the WEA's Director for Education and Deputy General Secretary until my retirement in June 2015, having worked for the Association since 2002. I joined as the District Secretary for Yorkshire North and went on to become the Regional Director of the Yorkshire and Humber Region.

I'm an enthusiastic advocate for lifelong learning with a wide network of contacts across various sectors. I'm a current and active member of the Teaching Regulation Agency's Professional Conduct Panel and have served as a member of the Education and Training Foundation's Expert Panel on Professional Standards and Workforce Development, a non-executive member of a Learning and Skills Council, a governor of Northern College for Residential Adult Education and a member of the Court of Leeds University. 

Since retiring I divide my time between living in Leeds and in the Isle of Lewis, where I was born, so have a good grasp of issues affecting England and Scotland.

Martin Yarnitt

Biography coming soon

Paul Humphries

I'm a retired journalist who worked across the board, from weekly newspapers to TV documentaries, but it was working at the grassroots that gave me so much job satisfaction: helping people with their problems, encouraging them to turn to their local reporter to help them take on the powers-that-be. Prior to becoming a journalist I was involved with a number of art marketing projects where I specialised in encouraging working class people to visit their local theatre, art gallery and concert hall. The WEA is the ideal organisation to reach out to people at the grassroots and help them build a better life.