Our Board of Trustees

Our trustees are the people who share ultimate responsibility for governing Aiming Higher and directing how it is managed and run.

What We DoGet Involved

Meet Our Trustees

John Child – Chair (2013 – present)

Managing Director Sandcastle Waterpark

John is the managing director of one of the top water parks in the world, John himself is the European representative on the board of the World Water Parks Association.

His expertise in establishing that success sees him regularly head hunted by park chiefs abroad, particularly in the Middle East. John has managed the Park for 16 years and is always looking at ways to extend the business. Nevertheless he is proud of his teenage years spent working at the Pleasure Beach (as his mother had) and later studying geology at university he feels it put him in good stead.

He has ensured that the Sandcastle Waterpark has won countless awards for customer service. Most notably for winning national acclaim three years running, for their access policies. Last year it won the Lancashire tourism customer service award as judges declared: “The customer is number one and staff forever exceed expectations.” Treating his staff well is very important to John.

Another of John’s passions is helping local charities and involving the staff team. Combining these wining qualities makes John an exceptional trustee for Aiming Higher.

Hilary Ainge – Treasurer (2011 – present)

Parent Volunteer

I have a college degree in art. I also gained 10 O’ levels many years ago. I have worked for the Church Commissioners, Croydon Health Authority and Private Companies, all in the Finance Departments using Account Management and Accounting Records using Quick Books Pro accountancy Software.

At this present time, (since 2008), I am treasurer of Blackpool Tiggers, a charity that provides out of hours leisure provision for children on the Autistic Spectrum and their families. I am also treasurer of Aiming Higher. I am practiced in grant procedures, ring fencing, accounting for grants spend, monitoring and reporting. I also ensure that all expenditure achieves best value. Critically, it is central to enhancing the lives of disabled children and their families who we are accountable to.

I am a parent of 5 children, the youngest of which is severely autistic. My third child also has moderate learning difficulties and I have two grandchildren who are disabled and live in Blackpool. I have been involved in the Aiming High Parent Forum since its inception and have gained invaluable insight into how families of disabled children can be helped and what their needs and requirements are. I am also one of the parents involved in the personalisation pilot, which will have an impact on short break provision by giving families more choice.

Anthea Dawson – Trustee (2011 – present)

BSc Development Studies

I am a parent of 4 children, including a 8 year old daughter with Dravet Syndrome. I am involved in the Parent Forum.

I am a School Governor of Thames School in which one of my duties is being The Special

Needs & inclusion Governor.

I have completed Governor training with Blackpool Council on Special Needs in schools, The Green Paper, Volunteering within a schooling/educational environment.

My educational qualifications include a Vocational qualification include Level 1 British sign Language, Basic sign Language & Baby Sign. Administration of Buccal Midazolam June 2012.

Alison Gilmore – Trustee (2016 – present)

General Manager – Imperial Hotel

Alison has been managing the prestigious Imperial Hotel in Blackpool for 10 years (with the exception of 18 months where she trained as a sparky-but that’s another story!). Hotels have been her life and she trained in hospitality in Blackpool before taking her first hotel management position in Cardiff. Her career has taken her all around the country until she ended up back in her beloved town. Her business acumen has been recognised on numerous occasions, being awarded “Hotel of the Year” in her previous company, and “General Manager of the year” in her current role.

The Imperial is the most famous of Blackpool’s hostelries and has itself won many awards over the last 10 years, currently holding the title of “Best Hotel” in the recent Culture and Lifestyle Awards. Alison herself has embraced the town in her 10 years and is recognised locally for her work in Tourism. She says “Blackpool is a truly magical tourism destination with some of the best hospitality staff in the world.

Norry Ascroft (2016 – present)

Entertainer ‘Lionel Vinyl’

Norry is a community champion for anti-bullying. His takes this strong message into schools where he delivers motivational speeches to draw attention to this issue.

Lionel Vinyl is the ultimate entertainer for any party or event. Guaranteed to get everyone involved he is totally unique and once seen never forgotten.

Lionel will teach your guests to disco dance and have them all involved in the entertainment. From corporate gigs, private parties, celebrity weddings, stage shows and bars and clubs, Lionel Vinyl is the special ingredient to make your event the best. Lionel Is The Man!!!!

Andrew Wareing (2017 – present)

Managing Director U Save Limited

Andrew has run a marketing business for some 20 years and his company handles clients such as Dominos, Starbucks, Costa, McDonalds as well as local businesses such as Lefton’s Furniture Group, BP Insurance, Blacktax and many more.

Although Andrew is a copywriter by profession and specialises in Direct Mail, his marketing agency undertakes all sorts of creative work from a bus wrap for Houndshill Shopping Centre assisting Blackpool Council fill the 680, 6 sheet poster sites they have around the town.

Andrew was formerly Commercial Director of the Lancashire Evening Post (now the Lancashire Post), Managing Director of Lancashire Publications and Central Lancashire Printers and on the Board of Wigan Borough Partnership as well as running and launching the digital division of Regional Independent Media.

Whilst in his role at the Lancashire Evening Post Andrew assisted in raising 1 million pounds to purchase the first MRI scanner in the region. It was this fundraising that introduced Andrew to charity work. Andrew was a trustee of the local Branch of Variety, the Children’s Charity.

Becoming a Trustee of Aiming Higher is a highlight for Andrew
‘When I first met the team I was so impressed with the enthusiasm and drive that I could not help wanting to be involved. Meeting a parent or child who has had their life improved by the help provided by the team is a fantastic and humbling experience. I only wish we had a BIGGER team! My goal is to assist Aiming Higher help more families and children and increase the work we do for those entering Adulthood who have a disability. There are many charities but what I like best about Aiming Higher is the ‘hands on’ feel that everyone involved is directly involved in helping a local family and that their work makes an immediate difference.’

Steve Rigby (2020– present)

Retired Chief Officer

Steve trained as a teacher but decided to move into sport and leisure management after University.

He worked in four different North West local authorities and was promoted to Chief Officer in Blackburn with Darwen, leading a team responsible for managing all the authority’s leisure centre, libraries and cultural facilities, until his retirement.

Steve has extensive experience working with the voluntary sector, private sector and in direct partnership with the NHS.

He has been a Director on not-for-profit boards and was the Chair of Governors at Myerscough College, completing his term of office in 2017.

Steve became the Interim Chair of the Healthwatch Lancashire Board in 2018. He is also on the Board of People First a registed charity delivering advocacy advice and Healthwatch contacts across the country.

Get Involved Today

Get involved today to support disabled children and their families in Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde by donating, fundraising or volunteering.