Our people

The success of the Shannon Trust Reading Plan relies on the quality of the relationship between Mentors and Learners. Behind the scenes there is a team of people who need to work together to make this experience of learning positive and life enriching.


Our Learners are prisoners who have yet to become confident readers. They are motivated by the opportunity to have a fellow prisoner teaching them to read.


Good Mentors are crucial to the quality of the learning experience and pivotal to the success of the reading plan. Any prisoner who is a confident reader is able to apply to become a reading plan Mentor.


Our Reading Plan Leads are the dedicated and dynamic prison based staff who ensure that the necessary systems are in place to enable mentoring to take place on a day to day basis. Reading Plan Leads can be prison officers, or from other departments such as education, the library, advice and guidance, the chaplaincy - what our Reading Plan Leads share in common is a passion to make a difference and the ability to engage colleagues support.


Shannon Trust would not exist without its amazing volunteers  all of whom  are essential to the delivery of Shannon Trust Reading Plan in each prison.  There are a range of volunteer opportunities within Shannon Trust and we are keen to attract people with a variety of life experience. One thing our volunteers share is that they are proactive, energetic people who are passionate about reaching as many learners as possible through our peer mentored reading plan.


The Shannon Trust staff team bring together a range of diverse skills from the charitable, public and commercial sectors. The staff team was reorganised in 2012 to reflect the changing needs of the reading plan and to best support delivery.

  • Angela Cairns


    Angela joined the trust from her role as CEO at Community Network, a charity established to combat the effects social isolation and loneliness has on health and well-being. Prior to this, Angela worked in leadership roles with voluntary sector organisations focusing on supporting vulnerable adults, families and children, and offenders.

  • Lorna Felix

    Head of Operations

    As Head of Operations Lorna’s work is informed by skills and experience gained from being a practitioner, trainer and senior manager within the Probation Service. She has also worked as an independent consultant within the Criminal Justice sector devising practice guidance and delivering training to a multi agency audience.

  • Susie O'Hagan

    Head of Development

    Susie has experience of developing and managing a UK wide programme of courses for The Prince’s Trust. She is a qualified counsellor, family mediator and teacher.

  • Carol Fraser


    Carol provides administrative support for the Trust. Carol has previous experience of working with The Princes Trust.

  • James Argent

    Regional Manager, Midlands & East

    James has previously worked as a teacher and spent the last 12 years in the charity sector, most recently managing an enterprise scheme with The Prince’s Trust. Working with Prince’s Trust he has experience of supporting ex-offenders in the community and delivering business training in the prison system.

  • Milly Connelly

    Regional Manager, North & Northern Ireland

    Milly has experience of working with a number of charities in project management and participation roles before working for Shannon Trust. She worked as Team Leader of the National Reading Network in the North supporting YOIs for two years before becoming Regional Manager for the North.

  • Jon White

    Regional Manager, South & Wales

    Jon joined Shannon Trust in 2010 as project leader for Young Offender Institutes in the South. A trained teacher, Jon has worked with young people and adults in a variety of contexts including work-based learning, for the mental health charity Mind, and as children at risk adviser for a Nepali NGO.

  • Alison Lee


    Alison joined Shannon Trust in January 2014. She previously worked as a Fundraiser for an environmental and wildlife focussed charity based in Yorkshire.

  • Sue Kent

    Projects and Information Systems Manager

    Sue joined Shannon Trust from DHL where she had responsibilities for project management, business support and the UK Billing team.


Our Board of Trustees has a wealth of relevant experience to help guide and direct Shannon Trust.

  • Sue O'Hara Chair of Trustees

    Sue has over 35 years experience in learning and skills in the public sector. During that time she has held a number of senior positions in a variety of Government Departments and Agencies. These include strategy, policy development and implementation in Basic Skills, Lifelong Learning , Widening Participation, Voluntary and Community Sector Engagement and the Offenders’ Learning and Skills Service in Custody and in the Community (OLASS 1-3) including the commissioning, development and deployment of the Virtual Campus.

  • Barry Porter

    Following a 26 year career in social work and community care management in local authorities in London, Barry worked for 13 years for Blind Veterans UK, the ex-services charity. Latterly, he occupied the role of Director of Operational Welfare Services with responsibility for a network of services throughout the UK.

  • Clare Argar

    Clare is currently Head of Community Campaigns and Programmes at the National Literacy Trust and has previously held a number of editorial roles within the publishing sector. She is a fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce.

  • Edward Astle

    Edward is a non-executive on the boards of 2 major companies, and is the Chair of the Board at Manchester University, after a career in business, and a spell as Pro Rector Enterprise at Imperial College London.

  • Emily Thomas

    Emily is a serving prison governor, currently based at HMP YOI ISIS in South East London. Emily is also a trustee with Prisoners’ Education Trust.

  • Holly Bowden

    Holly is currently company secretary at Architectural Association having previously held in-house legal roles in the public and charity sectors including the Stroke Association, Nesta, Cancer Research UK and Comic Relief.

  • Jean-Michel Garcia-Alvarez Trustee Treasurer

    Jean-Michel is currently Head of Internal Audit at challenger bank OakNorth Bank having previously held internal audit positions with international banking groups and the Nationwide Building Society. He is a trustee of the Long Yang Club badminton club and was previously involved with the Hackney Independent Custody Visitor panel.

  • John Bensted

    John is a former Chief Probation Officer and now works as an Independent Consultant in Community Justice. He had a long career in the Criminal Justice System, working for over 40 years in Probation and social work in London , Bristol and Gloucestershire .He has experience of working in many different settings including prison, courts, public protection, drug treatment and youth justice.

  • Kaushik Bhattacharya

    Kaushik is currently Head of Marketing Strategy and Operations, EMEA at Google. He has formerly held roles at Capital One in the USA and holds an MBA from London Business School. He lives in London.

  • Robert Newman

    In a professional career that spans over 35 years he has worked primarily in services for young people with special needs. Starting off in teaching, he moved into adolescent mental health and took senior management roles in a number of settings including a therapeutic community. He joined the Youth Justice Board in 1999 to set up a reform programme in youth custody and went on to lead policy development work for the YJB in education, mental health and resettlement. He has been a co-opted expert for the Council of Europe since 2007 and currently works independently on criminal justice development programmes internationally.

  • William Payne

    William recently retired from the Ministry of Justice where he worked in operational management (as a prison governor) and in policy development. He lives in Wales. As well as being a Trustee of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine and a member of one of the UK's Research Ethics Committees, he likes traveling and reading. He plays the flute (badly), volunteers with the Alzheimer's Society and undertakes some mentoring work.