Our team

Meet the people behind Plunkett’s work

Plunkett is made up of a great team of people with the range of skills and expertise needed to support your community business at every stage. We’re always happy to help, so click on the profiles below for more information and contact details.

If you have a general enquiry, please contact:

Alison Macklin
Community Business Manager

Alison was appointed to the post of Community Business Manager in March 2020 joining Plunkett after spending the last fifteen years as Business Manager of an award winning Community Shop and Café in the Wye Valley. Alison has also been one of The Plunkett Foundations Business Advisors for several years and has helped support several shops formally and informally. Alison will be responsible for helping set up the new Training Hub and working with the Plunkett advisors to provide training and support for new and existing projects.

Andrew Dubock
Communications Manager

Andrew was appointed Communications Manager at Plunkett UK in January 2024. Over the last 25 years, he has worked in communications for three different international charities, most recently spending a decade with a global charity that supports networks in bringing about lasting change for children and families in their cities.

In his Communications Manager role, Andrew is excited to be improving Plunkett’s visibility through media and PR, increasing brand awareness, sharing good news stories of the impact that community-owned businesses are having, and reporting on the way we are positively influencing policy change for rural communities.

Andrew grew up in rural Warwickshire and now lives in a village in south Oxfordshire. He is passionate about seeing communities that create equitable opportunities for everyone, such as giving training and employment for people with disabilities. Outside of work, Andrew enjoys running, watching football and taking part in pub quizzes.

Chris Cowcher
Head of Policy & Communications

Chris joined Plunkett UK in 2018 having spent a decade working in the rural community development sector.

Chris was recruited to be responsible for the community business support service at Plunkett. During the Covid-19 pandemic however, Chris led on an increasing amount of research and advocacy, for the benefit of community businesses UK-wide. He was appointed as the new Head of Policy and Communication in 2021 to continue developing this area of work on behalf of Plunkett and our membership.

Having grown up in rural Warwickshire and Gloucestershire; with experience of working in village shops and being the licensee of a rural pub, Chris is passionate about supporting rural communities and promotes the role of rural businesses in creating equitable opportunities for all.

Claire Spendley
Head of Community Business

Claire joined Plunkett as the organisation’s Membership Manager in April 2020 and was promoted to the role of Head of Community Business in October 2021. She has had a varied career across a number of marketing, public relations, membership and management roles, after having graduated from the University of Surrey with a BA Hons in Combined Languages (French, Russian and Spanish). As former Head of Membership for the Chartered Institute of Housing, she has a wealth of experience in the development and delivery of membership programmes to meet members’ needs. Claire is passionate about ensuring Plunkett’s network of community businesses are empowered through their membership to solve problems, address local needs, and build businesses that continue to thrive. Claire is also Secretary of Broadway Village Gardens.

Dean Stewart
Finance and Operations Assistant

Dean joined the Plunkett team in September 2023, to assist the Head of Finance. Having spent 39 years in the UK Banking Industry, mostly working in the Private Banking Sector, Dean had reached a stage in his career where he wanted to join an organisation that helps to make a positive difference to local communities across the UK.

Over the past 2 decades he has worked closely with many successful entrepreneurs from different backgrounds and industries as well as with landowners and some of the organisations that serve rural communities. He understands the challenges in obtaining financing for rural businesses and projects and so is delighted to be involved with an organisation that is providing the practical advice and support required to establish and run innovative and inclusive community businesses that make a positive impact for local people.

Denise Winkworth
Membership & Training Officer

Denise joined Plunkett in May 2022 as Membership and Training Officer. She has worked in the Charity Sector for 10 years and previously worked for Adoption UK in their busy membership team.

She lives in a rural village in North Oxfordshire and truly appreciates the importance of community businesses working on behalf of their local residents and customers.  As part of her role Denise will be helping and supporting community business members across the UK.

Diane Cameron
Project Manager

Diane joined Plunkett in 2020 and manages Plunkett’s role as an official support partner for the UK Government’s Community Ownership Fund. Di is also Plunkett’s point of contact for community business in Wales, and has developed specialist knowledge of community owned pubs, having worked on Plunkett’s More Than A Pub programme.

Di started at Plunkett working on the Community Business Team delivering frontline support, and has a background in working with community groups, parish councils, schools and grant funding at a Local Authority. She loves the difference community groups can make to people’s lives in all sorts of ways! Di has a Degree in English Studies and loves reading and travel. Her most memorable trip was crossing Tibet and China by truck, and her favourite books are The Secret History by Donna Tartt and Mama Day by Gloria Naylor.

Gemma Sills
Engagement Manager

Gemma joined Plunkett as the organisation’s Engagement Manager in August 2020. Gemma has worked in the charity sector for 12 years, working initially with The Adolescent and Children’s Trust (TACT) in London, and most recently with Gloucestershire Deaf Association (GDA) as their External Relations Manager where she led on the charity’s fundraising and marketing. Gemma loves a challenge having taken on the National Three Peaks, London to Paris bike ride and countless running events, as well as hosting a virtual 24hr Lands End to John O’Groats bike ride. Having spent 21 years growing up in a rural setting, Gemma has an understanding of rural life and has always been interested in the countryside.

George Ogier
Project Support Officer

George joined Plunkett as a Project Support Officer in March 2023. Prior to this he worked in recruitment, but his career has also seen him work in social media management, and sports journalism. Alongside these roles, George spent time as a stay-at-home parent, during which he discovered a keen interest for volunteering, particularly for groups supporting his community. This included the local youth football club, the local museum, and running a weekly parent and toddler group.

Being involved with these ventures sparked an interest in moving towards work in the charity sector, more specifically, community ownership. George has spent much of his life living in rural areas and he truly believes in the idea of businesses run by and for the benefit of local communities. Plunkett has provided the perfect opportunity to pursue this ambition.

Hannah Barrett
Consultancy Project Manager

Hannah manages a number of projects and contracts at Plunkett, supporting a range of community businesses across the UK. She project managed Plunkett’s ‘More Than a Pub’ and ‘Making Local Woods Work’ programmes, as well as leading on Plunkett’s consultancy activity. She has coordinated and delivered support to both urban and rural projects, supporting enterprises from shops, pubs and cafes, to farms and leisure centres.

Harriet English
Head of Engagement

Harriet was appointed Head of Engagement at Plunkett UK in March 2017 to lead a newly created Engagement Team to build our corporate partnerships, community fundraising ambitions and wider stakeholder engagement activity. Harriet initially joined the charity in December 2008 and has been involved in most job roles during her time at Plunkett, including projects, campaigns and events, membership and communications. Harriet has a passion for helping create thriving, inclusive and resilient rural communities through the community business model. As Head of Engagement, Harriet is excited to build partnerships with like-minded organisations that share our mission to create to inclusive, impactful and innovative rural communities for everyone to enjoy.

James Alcock
Chief Executive

James has led Plunkett UK since 2017. As Chief Executive and Company Secretary, he overseas both operations and strategic development of the organisation, as well as ensure its regulatory compliance and good governance. James joined the charity in 2007 and was central to the creation of its UK-wide advisory service for rural community businesses, consisting an advice line, advisory support programmes, events and membership. He has since instigated the development of a Training Hub and more recently, an Information Hub which acts as a data, research and policy unit within the organisation.

James is passionate about rural issues and is an active member of a number of national partnerships and alliances that seek to influence public policy for the good of communities. Prior to working for Plunkett UK, James worked in the rural affordable housing sector, and prior to that, undertook a BA (Hons) and MSc by Research, both of which focused on rural community issues.

Kathryn Morrison
Head of Compliance and Internal Operations

Kathryn joined Plunkett in August 2022 as Head of Compliance and Internal Operations after working in the post on an interim basis since March 2021. She previously worked for Plunkett for 16 years as Head of Finance and HR. Kathryn is an advocate of volunteering and is a qualified volunteer vaccinator with St Johns Ambulance. People are her passion and she is a Chartered MCIPD.

Laura Olver
Membership & Training Manager

Laura joined Plunkett in November 2021 as Membership and Fundraising Officer. Prior to that, following graduation from Manchester University, Laura spent 18 years in the retail sector in product ranging and sourcing roles for B&Q, Wyevale Garden Centres and, latterly, Hamleys of London. In 2016, Laura became a Director for the community shop in her village of Appleton in Oxfordshire, which had been trading since 2000. She led a major shop and range revamp and benefitted from Plunkett expertise in helping to shape the successful turnaround of Appleton Shop. She has since shared her knowledge and passion for community businesses with other local groups.

Lewis Bowman
Head of Finance

Lewis joined Plunkett as Head of Finance in October 2021 after having spent the previous 5 years working as a practice accountant. While he was growing up Lewis’ grandparents managed a pub and later a Post Office branch, both located in small villages in South Wales. This experience has given him a real appreciation of how important businesses like these and the services they offer can be for a small community and therefore why community-ownership can be a great way to protect and support these vital assets.

Lucia Jesus
Community Business Officer

Lucia moved to the UK from Madeira in 1995. She worked on reception in a hotel in Watford for six years before moving with her family to Oxfordshire. Here she started work at a local golf club where she stayed for 17 years managing bookings for the gym, exercise classes and the spa. During her time there Lucia also stepped in to help in the bar, restaurant and crèche.

In June 2018 Lucia joined Plunkett, becoming the first point of contact for many of those getting in touch with us for help with plans for new community businesses, and with those already trading. Lucia loves talking to groups from across the UK and providing the right support to help them with their journeys.

When not at work Lucia loves the outdoors and is often found doing long walks and other exercise. Lucia is well known for her bread making skills and also enjoys hosting her friends for dinner at her home.

Michael Wolverson
Trainee Communications and Marketing Officer

Michael was appointed as a Trainee Communications and Marketing Officer at Plunkett UK in June 2024. With a background in the hospitality trade, particularly as a pub manager, he enjoys spending time with the local community.

In his trainee communications role, Michael is excited to be learning more about Plunkett’s operations and the community ownership model. He is looking forward to learning on the go, by being involved in Plunkett’s social media presence, sharing some interesting stories and events!

Michael has a Master’s degree in Journalism and is passionate about writing positive stories. He is looking forward to use his journalistic skills to share good news stories of the impact that community-owned businesses are having.

Having grown up in rural Warwickshire, Michael has an understanding of rural life and has always been passionate about the countryside. Outside of work, you can find Michael either on a golf course or at the football!

Misty Bower
Community Business Adviser

Misty joined Plunkett in October 2023 as part of the Community Business Team. She brings a variety of experience from both the charity and community business sectors having spent the last 10 years growing a community-based charity and, more recently, launching an asset-locked social enterprise café serving the local community. In recognition of this work, she received the Surrey High Sheriff Community Award in April 2023. Prior to that, Misty was a teacher and also worked in small business marketing, and as community connector.  

A Fellow of the School of Social Entrepreneurs, she is devoted to helping communities help themselves and individuals reach their potential and enjoys mentoring community business pioneers and leaders. When not working she can be found being creative, playing with mixed media and making her own clothes or playing with her young grandson. 

Nick Comley
Community Business Adviser

Nick has been a Plunkett Community Business Adviser since October 2023 and was previously a Plunkett adviser when working for the Rural Community Council for Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

Nick studied Government at Birmingham City University and gained his honours degree in 1989.

Nick spent much of his career in commercial management before working in the Voluntary and Community Sector for over twenty years. He is Chartered Institute of Management Executive Diploma in Management qualified and a Social Return On Investment Network accredited practitioner.

Nick has been a passionate social enterprise and community business advocate and adviser since 2014 working with a wide range of organisations including charities, social enterprises and community owned businesses.

Nina Foskett
Engagement Officer

Nina joined Plunkett UK as an Engagement Officer in April 2023, her role supports the Engagement team with stakeholder development, fundraising and event organisation.

Prior to this Nina worked in various marketing and PR roles both within consultancies and in-house.  Whilst working as a parish administrator, Nina developed her interest in working for a charity and organising fundraising activities for the church community.

Nina’s interest in rural development and communities was cultivated during her Geography degree and living in the Oxfordshire countryside.

Paul Thompson
Data Manager / Salesforce Administrator

Paul joined Plunkett in March 2023 as our Data Manager and Salesforce Administrator. He works across the organisations to support everyone with the use of our data and the Salesforce Platform. Before joining Plunkett Paul spent 15 years as a teacher of Design and Technology. During his spare time Paul has managed a number of large events for the Scout association at both local and international levels as a volunteer. When not working or volunteering Paul can be found spending time outdoors with his 2 children or up a Mountain.

Sarah Benn
Memberships & Training Manager

Sarah joined Plunkett in May 2022 to deliver the membership strategy and Training Hub activity. She works part time in a job share with Laura. Sarah holds a degree in History of Art from University of Warwick and began her career working for a thriving community-run arts centre. The experience gave her a passion for working with communities in a variety of membership, events, communications and marketing roles, always bringing people together to share knowledge, experiences and ideas. Most recently, Sarah ran the membership scheme for a fine art museum and previous experience in event organising, peer networking, festival marketing and rural touring. Outside work, you’ll find Sarah with her young family, exploring the great outdoors and supporting local events – arts festivals and summer fêtes are particular favourites!

Susie Middleton
Project Manager

Susie joined Plunkett in October 2021 as a Project Manager. She leads on Plunkett’s projects in Scotland and enjoys collaborating with Scottish partners to ensure community businesses across the country have access to all the support available to help them with their work.

Prior to joining Plunkett, Susie worked for local government, supporting a large partnership project creating a strategic plan to deliver homes and infrastructure across Oxfordshire to 2050. Susie also spent 15 years at a tailor-made tour operator, working with partners across Latin America, managing a number of small projects and a team of country specialists.

Outside work, Susie loves spending time in the great outdoors with her husband and children, a parkrun on a Saturday morning, and playing in her local community street band.