Cheryl Montgomery - Chair

For the past 30 years Cheryl has been close to the voluntary sector as an employer, supporter, trustee and public sector service commissioner; some of this experience is highlighted here. Before her retirement from the Homes & Communities Agency in 2010, she was responsible for helping organisations and agencies prepare to meet the demands of a growing Milton Keynes. She has over 20 years’ experience of policy development and implementation, working from legislation through to real projects which involve public, private and voluntary sectors, including project appraisal and European funding bids. Cheryl is a member of the ecumenical Church of Christ the Cornerstone in Central Milton Keynes. She is now a textile artist and an active member of the Embroiderers’ Guild of the UK.

Preston Ayres - Treasurer

Preston is a director/trustee and Treasurer of Milton Keynes YMCA and has held these positions for over 30 years. For the past four years he has also held similar positions at Northamptonshire YMCA (which is controlled by MK).

By profession he is a chartered accountant and retired from his role as partner at Grant Thornton a few years ago. Currently he chairs the finance committee, oversees the main financial matters at the YMCA and has been actively involved in the proposals to re-develop our Milton Keynes site to further improve the various services that we provide to young people.

Preston is involved in other charities, particularly Milton Keynes Grand Union Rotary club (past president) and Extra Mile Challenges (involved in organising a team cycle challenge in different areas of the Continent each year which has raised £1.4m for charity over the past 14 years).

Preston’s other interests mostly involve motor sport (an active rally co-driver), travelling and family.

Jean Gowin

Jean Gowin

As CityFibre City Manager, Jean supports both the commercial and £40M residential full-fibre infrastructure rollout across Milton Keynes. Passionate about all things MK, she leads commercial relationships, developing opportunities and expanding community engagement across every sector of the city. Her pivotal commercial and community role, educates and promotes the many benefits of full-fibre connectivity alongside ensuring CityFibre creates and supports long lasting local community partnerships and relationships. Prior to her current role, Jean ran her own business, heading up a multi award-winning independent marketing services company, creating and implementing PR and marketing strategies to a wide range of national and international companies and associations – including work within the maritime sector on human rights and piracy and work supporting offender learning in prisons. Jean is also a Private Sector Board Member of SEMLEP, Director of MK Business Leaders Partnership and Governor of MK Academy.

Dr Vasco Fernandes MBBS, DCH, MRCGP, FFPHM

Vasco joined the Milton Keynes (MK) YMCA in 2016. He retired from his Consultant Physician post in the MK NHS in 2011. He has extensive experience in Public Health, Substance Misuse and General Practice. He was chair of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) Regional Public Health Committee (and Member of the National Committee) from 1989 to 2010. He served on the National Public Health Laboratory Service Board from 1995 to 2000, having been appointed by the Minister of Health as the BMA representative. From 1993 to 2010, he was the Honorary President of the MK Equality Council. Until recently he was a Member/Chair of the MK Community Foundation’s Grant Panel. He is the Patron of the MK Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Group, and is an appointed  Independent Person (helping to maintain standards of conduct) for the Milton Keynes, Luton, and Central Beds Councils, and the Beds, Bucks and MK Fire Authorities.

Julia Valentine

A trustee since 2001, Julia has been Chair of the Personnel and Training Committee and continues to serve on this committee. Recently retired, Julia was a career guidance professional and senior manager with 20 years’ experience in executive management roles, and project management, working with partners at all levels, including regional and central government agencies. Having managed Connexions and National Careers Service contracts, Julia is keen to ensure YMCA residents are supported to maximise their opportunities and to make realistic and well-informed decisions about their futures. In her spare time, she enjoys scuba-diving and is qualified as an Advanced level diver.

Rev John Robertson

John is the Director of Ecumenical Mission for Milton Keynes Mission Partnership, an umbrella body for the churches in the area to enable them to engage with the city and its various communities.

Having started out as an engineer working in the power industry, he has been in Christian leadership for over 25 years as a vicar, an area dean and a university chaplain before coming to Milton Keynes in 2012. He was made a Canon of ChristChurch Cathedral, Oxford in 2011.

Alongside his church ministry, John has always been active in the charity sector, education and local government, including a period as chair of a Local Strategic Partnership.

Tim Stone

Prior to joining the YMCA Board and its Finance Committee Tim had been Treasurer at MK Citizens Advice Bureau for ten years. He retired in 2015 as Director of Student Services at the University of Bedfordshire where he had worked in similar senior roles for twenty five years. Earlier in his career Tim had worked in academic and public libraries in Dorset and Lancashire.

Dr Anthony Holden

Tony has served the YMCA since 2008.  First as a member of the Northamptonshire Board and then both Northamptonshire and Milton Keynes Boards following NYMCA becoming a subsidiary of MKYMCA.

Tony is a member of the MKYMCA Finance Committee and became Chairman of NYMCA in March 2016.  He is by profession a Physicist and has an extensive background in youth work with 32 years as leader in the Scout Association including serving as District Commissioner in South Northamptonshire.  He was involved in the creation of the NYMCA Hub Youth Café in Brackley now in its seventh year of operation.

Julia Upton

Appointed to the MK YMCA Board in 2014, Julia is a Board Director of Business Leaders, a judge for MK Business Achievement Awards, Trustee of The Cenotaph Trust and a member of MK Gallery’s Steering Group. She is also actively involved with Citizens MK to encourage more organisations to be Accredited Living Wage employers.

Previously Julia was Chief Executive of the MK Community Foundation, where her strategic role included developing philanthropy and donor services, community engagement, grant making, leadership and developing the property portfolio. Under her management, MK Community Foundation was recognised as providing the highest of standards in the network of Community Foundations and a beacon for philanthropy.

Julia was a Trustee and Vice Chair of UK Community Foundations (UKCF) and continued to work closely with them to develop Community Foundations in the UK. She chaired UKCF’s Quality Accreditation Committee, which developed the ‘Quality Mark’ for all Community Foundations, and was a lead member of the UKCF’s Steering Group, which created Vital Signs research, produced annually to identify the successes and issues in our community.

Originally from the West Country, Julia previously worked in education in Somerset then London prior to moving to Milton Keynes. In 2016 she was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her services to the community of Milton Keynes.