Meet the team

Founder and project coordinator 

Gayle Connor-McCreith

Gayle is one of the charity’s founders. Born and bred in Walton, Gayle has been driven by a passion to bring back the “good old fashioned community spirit”.

 Also a mum of two, much of her energy is directed towards providing activities for children to give them good memories.

Chair of the Trustees

Les Hughes

Les is co-founder of the charity with Gayle. Since retiring in 2016, he has devoted much of his free time to help get the charity established as well as support its various activities.

 Like Gayle, Les shares a passion for bringing the community together and providing activities for young people.

 He has also taken up a position of churchwarden at St Nathanael’s Church, where the charity is based.

Logistics

Dave Ramsey

Dave has been an integral member of the team since the charity launched in 2016 (initially as a non-profit organisation), helping in a voluntary capacity for four years before taking up a part-time role.

 He is always working hard behind the scenes to make sure everything is in place for every activity and event.

Volunteers  

We are blessed to have such a great team of volunteers who give so generously of their time to serve their community by helping us with our many activities.

 They are the heartbeat of our charity and we simply would not be able to do any of the things we do without them.

 At present we have 15 volunteers. Each month we feature one of them in our newsletter.  

 Pictured are four of our amazing regular helpers and individuals. Below you can learn about our other volunteers as they have appeared in our newsletter. 
 (If you would like to volunteer with the Opening Doors Project please email contactus@openingdoorsproject.org.uk, message us through the Contact page,  or phone 07557 335188.)

• Julie Verdin and Dave Hughes.
• Karen Afford (left) and Lynne Healey.

Volunteer

Hannah Burns

HANNAH first got involved with the Opening Doors Project during one of the lockdowns when she took her daughter to a play scheme at Stalmine Road gardens.

Now, the married mum of two, who has lived in the Rice Lane area all of her life, has become one of the charity’s sessional workers and helps run the craft and lunch club every Tuesday.

Pre-Covid, Mrs Burns had her own handmade craft business and she plans to start a similar venture soon.

Welcoming

“My first volunteering event was at the Halloween party back in October 2021,” Hannah said, “Since then I haven’t looked back. I have helped with various events including the Christmas Fayre, the Christmas float, and the bingos.

“I have also started teaching arts and crafts as a sessional worker at the play schemes and more recently at an adults’ group.

“I love volunteering with the Opening Doors team who have been so welcoming. It’s been so beneficial for me and it has given me a lot more confidence and social interaction for which I am very grateful. It has given me a chance to try something new while also being able to give back to the local community.”

The creatively minded children and adults groups’ worker encourages others to get involved.

“I would recommend anyone local to come along to some of the charity’s events,” she said, “There are some brilliant things lined up for the coming months.”

Volunteer

Julie Verdin

ONE of the Opening Doors Project’s core team, Julie Verdin has been involved with the organisation as a volunteer since it started in 2016.

A full-time mum to three autistic children with differing special needs, she has found that working with the charity has given her a release from the stresses of home life.

“I was one of the first mums to attend the very first disco at the tennis centre,” Julie said, “I started helping out straight away and I just never stopped! It just gives me a break from life at home. I have so much going on with my children.”

The activities Ms Verdin has helped with are too numerous to mention but they include discos, youth clubs, afternoon teas, day trips, and delivering food parcels to needy families during the lockdowns.

Giving up her free time to support the various community activties, the hard working mum has found that volunteering has helped her mental health.

“I was really down and depressed before,” she said, “I have had so many struggles with my own health, and I still do, but volunteering has helped with my depression massively. I now have a sense of purpose.

Flourish

“Volunteering gives people who have problems at home to be a part of the community. We have all got stories to share and we can help each other out. That’s what it’s all about – helping everybody to flourish.”

Saying that she has also made some good friends, in particular with Gayle, the charity’s founder, Julie encourages others to get involved with the Opening Doors Project. “Even just come for a cuppa and see what we are about,” she said, “It’s given me a whole new life and a friend I will have for life. We are like two peas in a pod!”