Our People

The Society is managed by the Executive Committee, a group of volunteers elected to serve by the membership. Elections take place at the Annual General Meeting in April each year.

There are four officers (President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer) and up to 21 ‘ordinary’ members of the Executive Committee.

The four officers are elected for a period of one year but can be re-elected each year.

Ordinary members of the Committee are usually elected for a period of two years after which they must step down but can stand for re-election.

The Society’s Constitution allows for up to three committee members to be co-opted each year but co-opted members must stand for election at the first Annual General Meeting following their co-option.

All members of the Executive Committee, whether elected or co-opted, are trustees of the charity.

The Executive Committee members are:


PresidentKevin Trickett MBE, BA (Hons), MBA, MA (Phil).

Kevin is a native of Wakefield and has lived in and around the city all his life. After a 40-year career in the Civil Service, culminating as a senior project and programme manager, Kevin now devotes much of his time to charity work, writing, public speaking, and travel. Kevin writes and speaks about some of his favourite subjects including architecture, heritage, philosophy, travel and Art Deco.

His blog can be found on his website https://itbroadensthemind.com/.

Kevin is well versed in the activities of the civic movement, having been a trustee of Wakefield Civic Society since 1990. He was elected as the Society’s President in March 2002 and continues to hold that position today. Shortly after taking up the presidency of Wakefield Civic Society, he became a trustee of the Yorkshire and Humber Association of Civic Societies (YHACS) and was elected as its Chair in January 2011, a role which he also continues to fulfil.

In the 2019 New Year’s Honours List, Kevin was awarded the MBE for services to the community in Wakefield.

Vice President – Pete Taylor BA (Hon), Mech Eng T. (CGLI)

Pete left Thornes House School and started an apprenticeship with Spencer and Halstead in Ossett, qualifying as a mechanical engineer.  He then worked at E Green and Sons as a draughtsman and then contract manager and at Craven Fawcett as a Contract Manager.  There he was selected for training to project manage and implement their IT systems. Pete changed from mechanical engineering to IT and began a 30-year career in IT operational management.

He was IT manager at Craven Fawcett and then Bretton Hall College before moving to ITW ROCOL as Operations IT Manager for 18 years until retirement. Pete now manages the Second Chance Headway Centre in Wakefield (Therapy and Rehabilitation for Adults with Brain Injuries), and is a Trustee of Wakefield Civic Society, and member of Southgate Surgery PPG.

Pete’s hobbies are Archaeology (the subject of his BA degree), and Historical Research.

Pete joined the Society’s Executive Committee in April 2015 and was elected Vice President in April 2019.

Secretary: Ben Cowell FdSc, BA (Hons), PgDip

Ben has been a resident of Wakefield since 2008, having moved to Leeds in 2005 from his childhood home of Newcastle upon Tyne to study at the University of Leeds. Ben is the Legal Services Manager for Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, joining the NHS in 2014 and working within the legal departments of numerous Trusts. Prior to this, Ben was a police constable with West Yorkshire Police for six years, serving in Leeds on both response and neighbourhood policing teams along with time spent as a special constable and a PCSO with the British Transport Police and Northumbria Police respectively.

In his spare time, Ben enjoys swimming, walking and spending time with his young family. Hobbies include acting, local history and the regeneration of Wakefield and the wider metropolitan district. Ben is undertaking a masters degree in law with the aim of becoming a solicitor.

Ben joined the Executive Committee in January 2021 and was elected to the role of Secretary at the Society’s Annual General Meeting in April 2022.

Treasurer: Alison Sykes B.Ed. (Hons), Dip.Ed.Man.

Although not a native of Yorkshire, Alison has lived in the county most of her life including a few years at Bretton Hall as a student and subsequently in an apartment in St. John’s Square, before moving to a family home in Outwood. Most of her career was spent in Barnsley and for many years she was a senior manager in a comprehensive school and latterly heavily involved in the pre -16 vocational programme across the Barnsley borough.  

Her interests are classical music, opera, theatre, European and long distance travel and fell walking, including trekking in far away places. She has a great affinity with Italy and spends time there every year. Since retiring and acquiring grandchildren much of her time is devoted to the latter. She is also a singing member and trustee of the Chesterfield Philharmonic Choir.

Alison is looking forward to the development of current projects to enhance the city centre, attract inward investment and increase visitor numbers to Wakefield’s internationally recognised destinations.

Alison joined the Executive Committee in February 2017 and was elected as Hon. Treasurer in April 2019.

Committee Members

Terry Blackwood MCIM BA (Hons)

Although growing up in the south of England Terry has mainly lived in Yorkshire since starting at Leeds Polytechnic in 1984. He has lived in Wakefield for 17 years and has come to love the city.

Terry has mainly worked in marketing in the construction and cycle industries and currently works for Sustrans, the active travel charity, in their partnerships team.

Terry is an active member of Wakefield Triathlon Club although most of his time is spent coaching rather than training or competing. He is also the owner of a very over indulged Greyhound and regularly walks him in the country parks around the city.

This Terry’s second period of office on the Executive Committee. Having first served from March 2009 to September 2012, when new work commitments obliged him to stand down, Terry re-joined the Committee in March 2021.

Ben Davison

Originally from a small North Yorkshire village called Ulleskelf, Ben completed a degree in Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Sheffield, before moving to Castleford. Having completed a law conversion course in York, Ben qualified as a Solicitor and moved to Wakefield in 2008. 

He has worked for two regional law firms in Wakefield, Bradford and Leeds. Dealing with a variety of areas of primarily legal aid funded law but specialising in immigration and human rights appeal cases, Ben has represented clients from half the countries in the world, plus a couple from unrecognised states and some with no nationality at all. One of Ben’s first cases was reported in Wakefield Express and more recently he was quoted in the Sunday Mirror in an article on returning child asylum seekers to Afghanistan. 

Outside of work, Ben can usually be found out and about around Yorkshire with his partner, their terrier and a camera, or watching Leeds United and Yorkshire County Cricket Club while supping a pint of IPA. 

Ben joined the Committee in March 2023, having taken an increasing interest in the city through membership of the Civic Society and hoping to contribute positively to future development.”

Vicky Flintoff BA (Hons)

Vicky has lived in Wakefield all her life, being a member of many groups and, having friends in all parts of the district, she has spent quite a lot of time in these areas and thinks they are underrated locally. Her interest in heritage started from travelling around the country with her parents and visiting countless historic properties. This interest was carried into her BA degree in interior architecture in which her masters featured an adaptive re-use of WW2 Sea Forts. Since graduation she has worked as an interior designer at a local architects and looks forward to delving more into heritage. When given the opportunity to join the committee in October 2020, her answer was an easy yes!

Her hobbies include local choir sandal singers, musical theatre and walking.  

Dr Rachel Forster

Photo of Dr Rachel Forster

We are delighted to welcome Dr Rachel Forster as our newest committee member.

Rachel was born and brought up in Wakefield. She is an artist, facilitator and researcher specialising in working within the Criminal Justice sector.

After achieving her degree in Theatre Design, she spent 13 years as a tutor at HMP Wakefield. During this time she completed an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award which resulted in her thesis ‘Questions of Value: Taking Museum Collections into a High Security Prison’. Since 2021 Rachel has been project managing the arts provision at the CFO Activity Hubs across Yorkshire. 

Rachel is interested in anything and everything arty and creative. She enjoys attending life drawing sessions and is a regular attendee of Wakefield Artwalk.

Rachel was co-opted onto the Executive Committee on 27th June 2023.

Joe Gardiner

Born in Wakefield, Joe studied Architectural Technology at Liverpool John Moore’s University and gained a diploma in Urban design from Leeds Beckett University where areas of Wakefield were used as a major part of various projects. He has always held his hometown close to his heart . 

Joe spent many years volunteering in the local Scout district before moving to Manchester for 5 years. Now working back in Wakefield as a management surveyor for Cardfactory, he is looking forward to helping the Society help the city.

Joe joined the committee on 25th July 2023.

Barry Goodchild

Barry Goodchild, Professor (Emeritus) in Housing and Urban Planning, MRTPI

Barry has lived in Wakefield since 1972. Over a long academic career at Sheffield Hallam University, he taught planning and urban studies at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, supervised or mentored the successful completion of three doctorates, participated in or led research projects for a variety of housing and planning agencies in the UK and France and secured the publication of five books, including one in French and 47 articles in social science journals, with more underway. He has now retired from full-time work but remains active in the development of research papers and research projects with colleagues at Sheffield Hallam and other universities.

The main theme in his work, both in a university setting and as a member of the Wakefield Civic Society has been to inform policy and practice and to push policy in an environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive direction.

Barry joined the Executive Committee in February 2019.

Ela Hazebrouck

Ela moved to Wakefield in July 2021 and was struck by the number of beautiful buildings the city has to offer. She was pleasantly surprised and, after seeing the potential the city has, it was a natural step for her to become a member of the Society in 2022.

Born in Stuttgart, Ela grew up in Tübingen and studied in Bamberg where she completed a Master’s Degree in Art History, American Literature and English at the Otto-Friedrich University.

Ela then moved to Essen with her husband and children, where she later took over a shop offering greeting cards, stationery, gifts and gift-wrapping services.

After running this shop for over 15 years, it was time for something new. On getting the chance to work on a freelance basis in the greeting card & gift wrap industry in England, it was a relatively easy decision for her. Her love for England and the desire to live here was always a dream. And sometimes dreams come true….

Ela, who joined the Executive Committee on 25th July 2023, says she is eager to help to preserve the beauty of old buildings for future generations. She wants to focus on heritage, bringing back something of the architectural detail that used to be so prevalent in our towns and cities, but recognising the need to combine old and new with the introduction of some with modern features, to create places that promote the well-being of their inhabitants. She is also a big fan of old street lights!

Gill Hutchinson

Gill is a long-standing member of the Society, joining the Executive Committee in February 2018.

Now retired , Gill worked as a Court Usher at Wakefield Magistrates Court for twenty three years.

Born and brought up in Wakefield, Gill says that she loves her city and is proud of its rich heritage. She is interested in the city’s development and fully supports the Society in its vision for the future.

Mike O’Donnell

Mike re-joined the Executive Committee in 2004 after a break and served as the Society’s Secretary from March 2008 to April 2021.

He previously lived in London where he was a member of a local amenity/conservation society concerned with both communal and planning issues.

In Wakefield he has assisted with the development of the Society on a range of local issues over the years and has been particularly interested in the growth of contacts within the Yorkshire region and at national level via Civic Voice.

Mike sees the participation of committee members as being important to the maintenance of a breadth of activities which, as well as planning and responding to consultations, now cover areas such as monitoring the conservation areas locally, identifying buildings or areas at risk, the annual Heritage Open Days event in September and, finally, providing opportunities for social activities for the wider membership.

John Ramsden BSc MRICS

John joined the Executive Committee in February 2015. He has lived in Wakefield most of his adult life after student years in London and the Midlands, which made him appreciate the strengths of Wakefield and Yorkshire for both work and leisure. 

He is a General Practice Chartered Surveyor, with 40 years of experience of managing major land and property holdings in the public sector. Having worked his way around much of West and South Yorkshire, his last 20 years before retirement was in a senior asset management role at Leeds City Council. During that time he was heavily involved in rationalising and modernising the very substantial operational estate and bringing forward major sites for residential and commercial development through the planning process. As a member of the Society’s Planning sub-committee, this background assists in reviewing planning applications and development projects in the city to provide the Council with commentary of either support or in the role of critical friend when necessary.  

Along with theatre, film and reading, travel is a major pastime, particularly long distance trekking in the UK, Europe and further afield. By comparison this reinforces my firm view that Wakefield has much to be proud of. By combining with like minded and experienced people in the Civic Society we provide a knowledgable means of promoting the best and supporting improvement projects in the city.    

John Seacome BA, Dip. T.p., MSc, DipTheol., MRTPI (ret’d)

John has lived all his adult life in Wakefield, as a town planner, working for West Riding County  Council, Leeds City Council, the Planning Inspectorate, subsequently for the Planning Team of  a large Law Firm, and lastly for Leeds Metropolitan University as a Senior Lecturer. Being retired since 2010, he can now reflect on the city of Wakefield and its challenges. He is a keen gardener, and a Licensed Lay Minister at his local church, and looked after his grandchildren until very recently. He also writes prose and poetry with a local group and is compiling a family history.

John joined the Executive Committee in April 2020.

Kevin Swift

Kevin Swift

Kevin has been a Wakefield City councillor for 16 years, spread over two periods. He has a professional background as a Town Planner in Lancashire, the Midlands and Yorkshire, for the most part in the former coalfield areas, and has been an active trade unionist since his late teens. 

Kevin joined the Executive Committee in April 2013.