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Our Board

Kimberley Guthrie
Chief Officer
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Kimberley has over 25 years experience in senior management roles across the retail and business sector in a variety of small, medium and large organisations. Company director and founder of her own business of 17 years, she  delivers a consultancy service bringing a wealth of experience in marketing and consumer strategy, retailing expertise and business transformation to SME’s across the UK. A true advocate of independent business, she ran a highly successful online and store based childrenswear boutique for 17 years, underpinned by a consumer centric digital strategy.  Kimberley’s role with Scotland’s Towns Partnership is to drive transformative change for our towns through collaboration and partnership with all stakeholders across all sectors.

A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing,  she has a solid foundation in all aspects of multi-channel marketing, brand management and entrepreneurship.  She is also an active and experienced mentor developing leaders bringing out the best in people and enabling confidence and continuous improvement in both business and personal growth.

An ardent supporter of the third and charitable sector, Kimberley held a 2 year appointment as chair of the fundraising board at Maggie’s FV which involved a successful tenure in increasing brand awareness, supporting and influencing the fundraising team in exceeding annual income.  

Professor Leigh Sparks
Chair

Professor Leigh Sparks is Deputy Principal (Education and Students) and Professor of Retail Studies at the University of Stirling. He was a geography undergraduate at the University of Cambridge and completed his Ph.D. (on retail employment) at the University of Wales. Leigh is Board Chair of Scotland’s Towns Partnership (2013-date), was a member of the External Advisory Group on the Scottish Government’s National Town Centre Review (2012-2013) and on the Expert Advisory Group advising the Scottish Government on the lessons to be learned from the Horsemeat Scandal (2013).

During 2020, Leigh was a member of the Scottish Government’s Social Renewal Advisory Board, the report from which (If Not Now When?) was published in January 2021, and Chaired the review of the Town Centre Action Plan for the Scottish Government, the report from which (A New Future for Scotland’s Towns) was published in February 2021. He was a member of the Scottish Government’s Ministerial Retail Strategy Group, which wrote the Retail Strategy for Scotland, published in March 2022.

Leigh is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and runs a blog on retail matters.

Mhairi Donaghy
Vice Chair
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Mhairi Donaghy is Associate Director at Scottish Futures Trust, working in the Place, Housing and Economic Investment team.  She has considerable experience of towns and town centre research, having supported a wide range of projects over the past thirty years including place audits, strategy and action plan development, project appraisals and funding applications.

Mhairi has a very strong interest in towns as a service user and shopper, as a visitor, and as an economic research practitioner.  She worked with her local Business Association over many years, latterly helping the group to secure a successful ballot and establish the ‘My Shawlands’ Business Improvement District (BID).  

Towns are essential in bring together the facilities and services that people want to use in accessible places that people can get to – this helps to promote variety and encourage innovation.  Successful towns have a distinctive offer, are vibrant places, and encourage people to visit through activities, events and marketing efforts, helping to sustain business performance and local jobs, and strengthen community ties.  Where they have a clear purpose and can harness opportunities, all towns have the potential to build a successful future.

Tom Sneddon
Treasurer

Tom is currently treasurer to Scotland’s Towns Partnership. 

“As an architect in private practice and as a Director of the Development Trusts Association Scotland [DTAS] I represent both the active practitioner and the can-do community-led ethos of DTAS on the board of STP.

I’m interested in towns because like almost 70% of our population, I live in one. Towns also provide 2/3 of our jobs and businesses and should be the powerhouse of our economy. Our towns are the barometer of the nation’s economic health and social wellbeing.

Getting our towns and town centres right is important not only for that particular place but also for a socially inclusive and vibrant national economy. Therefore, towns matter – they matter a lot.

Towns form an important and integral part of Scotland’s landscape. Big towns, small towns, beautiful towns, unremarkable towns, seaside towns – the list goes on. They provide a broad diversity in terms of size, scale, location, landscape setting and character including layout and building fabric. Towns are the lifeblood and sole economic drivers to many rural areas and are essential components to the hinterland of our 7 cities.

There is a great deal of pride in Scotland’s towns, which offer a way of life at a scale, which is often rich in identity and social interaction with a deep local sense of place. The opportunity exists to harness this local pride, knowledge and enthusiasm to improve the overall social, economic and physical environments within these places”.

Pete Cheema
Board Member

Pete was then appointed as Chief Executive of the Scottish Grocers Federation in 2015, and since then has revolutionised it into a modern, relevant and highly influential trade body which has the ear of Scottish Government on retail matters as well as having influence at UK Government level (working with ACS).  The organisation has also become a beacon for diversity across gender and ethnicity; Pete was also recently appointed to Police Scotland’s Independent Ethics Advisory Panel.

Pete is currently a Board member of the Scottish Retail Consortium and Scotland’s Town Partnership, as well as being a former lay adviser to Police Scotland from 2000 to 2018.  He also sits on a number of Scottish Government committees and Glasgow’s Licensing Forum.

Pete was awarded an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2018 for services to Business, Community Cohesion and Charity, and was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Stirling University for his services to the retail sector in 2019.

Caroline Warburton
Board Member

Caroline is Destination Development Director (Central & North East) at VisitScotland. She oversees a team who lead on VisitScotland’s role in supporting places (or destinations in tourism speak). This involves working closely with key regional stakeholders, such as local authorities and destination organisations, to ensure alignment of strategic priorities, identify opportunities, support the sector in the region and champion the region internally in VisitScotland.

Scotland’s towns are an essential part of Scottish tourism. They provide focal points for visitors, be it with visitor attractions, activities, places to stay or places to eat, or simply to see how we live. Vibrant towns make vibrant and successful tourism destinations. Visitors come to Scotland to experience our places, our culture and to meet our people. Towns are essential to that.

Scotland’s towns are an essential part of Scottish tourism. They provide focal points for visitors, be it with visitor attractions, activities, places to stay or places to eat, or simply to see how we live. Vibrant towns make vibrant and successful tourism destinations. Visitors come to Scotland to experience our places, our culture and to meet our people. Towns are essential to that.

Adrian Watson
Board Member

I am the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Aberdeen Inspired, the city centre business improvement district (BID) that represents the interest of some 700 levy paying businesses. I have been in post since July 2016.

The BID delivers on a wide range of initiatives and strategies including the globally acclaimed Nuart (Aberdeen) International Street Art Festival,  Aberdeen Restaurant Week and introduced the first city centre evening & night-time economy strategy of its kind outside of London. It also manages the Aberdeen Gift Card, as part of the ‘Scotland Loves Local’ strategy and was recently recognised as being the best-selling card of its kind across the UK & Ireland for 2023/24.  

I am a Fellow of the Institute of Place Management, Manchester Metropolitan University and also the National Chair for Scotland of the Association of Town & City Management (ATCM).

I hold a BSc (Hons), MSc and an MBA from Aberdeen Business School,  Robert Gordon University.  

Hilary Kidd
Board Member

Hilary Kidd is Smart Services Director at Young Scot, leading on the strategic development and implementation of Young Scot’s smart-service programmes including the Young Scot National Entitlement Card, digital assurance and the Proof of Age Standard Scheme (PASS), membership services and local authority partnerships.

Having grown up in towns across Scotland and now living in Motherwell, Hilary strongly believes that young people should have more opportunities to participate effectively in the future planning of their town centres. With a particular interest in tackling inequalities, Hilary wants to ensure that we are connecting young people to the heart of town centre regeneration policy.

A qualified Solicitor, Hilary has spent the majority of her career in the third sector and is a former Board member of the Scottish Youth Parliament and YouthLink Scotland.

Claire Carpenter
Board Member

I am a Coach Mentor, Consultant and ‘pioneer of Coworking’, experienced Third Sector leader, placemaker & award-winning social entrepreneur. 

After 20 years of place-based leadership, I now work remotely as a coach and consultant.

The bulk of my career has been building & holding  The Melting Pot  – Scotland’s Centre for Social Innovation. Located in Edinburgh, and scaled during Covid, it is one of Europes’ oldest coworking businesses & communities. 

To further scale our impact, we developed 2 other services that stimulate & support social innovation. Good Ideas – an incubation programme which helps people make change; and the Coworking Accelerator – tooling up placemakers to build the next generation of independent coworking businesses.

I grew up in a huge declining market town, with terrible transport infrastructure, urban planning and vision for identity. A sprawling & commuter town. There was not enough to stay there then. But the world is different now. I believe towns have an opportunity to become desirable and even a ‘destination’ again. We’ve a long way to go – but the future is coming – how, where and when we work is changing. Better towns can facilitate a better quality of life for many and for our collective future. Let’s crack on with it.

Alison Turnbull
Board Member

I am Director of Development and Partnership at Historic Environment Scotland. My role covers a wide range of areas including community engagement, strategic partnerships, research, policy, strategy implementation, international working, equalities and fundraising. 

I created a new Directorate with a fresh approach in HES. I led the process to develop Heritage for All, HES’s corporate plan using service design methods and engaging seldom heard voices. The style of working can be characterised as innovative, collaborative and facilitative. The Directorate works across HES and with external bodies to draw in best practice and ensure efficiency of delivery.

Fergus Murray
Board Member

Fergus is a chartered town planner and member of SLAED. Currently Head of Development and Economic Growth with Argyll and Bute Council he has a responsibility for a range of council services including planning, regulatory services, housing, economic growth and area regeneration.

Fergus has worked in Glasgow and Shetland prior to coming to Argyll and has throughout his career been involved in area regeneration projects including the regeneration of the Broomielaw and Merchant City areas, the regeneration of Lerwick Waterfront and Town Centre and latterly Argyll and Bute’s CHORD project that helped regenerate the town centres of five main towns.

Fergus has a particular interest in the viability of small rural towns and how they support the wider rural economy. He strongly believes in encouraging new business in our town centres and providing local people with the right skills to take best advantage of the places where they live.