Meet the team

Chief Executive

David Watson

“Formerly an employee of Harrogate Borough Council with over 23 years of experience in the Sport and Physical Activity industry and a qualified Youth Worker, David became Executive Director of North Yorkshire Sport on July 1st 2006.

Prior to that he had worked with North Yorkshire Sport on a secondment from Harrogate Borough Council where he had gained valuable experience of both Facility Management, working and managing both wet and dry sites, and Sports Development. He also worked for eleven years as a part time Physical Education teacher at a local primary school giving him an insight in to the particular needs of education.

David became Chief Executive of North Yorkshire Sport Ltd on April 1st 2014 when the organisation launched as a company limited by guarantee with charitable status.

David’s role is to provide strategic leadership, to manage the financial, human and physical resources assigned to the Partnership and to ensure the sustainability and efficiency of the company.

David represents the Yorkshire and Humber County Sport Partnerships as a member and Trustee of the National CSP Board, is a member of the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise North Yorkshire Chief Executives group, as well as being a member of a number of strategic groups within the county representing sport and physical activity.

As a volunteer he is a member of the Amateur Swimming Association, representing the Yorkshire ASA on North East Region Management Board of which he is the Chairman and he is also a Governor and Trustee of Harrogate High School.

David is a keen sportsman in his spare time, focusing mostly on the gym, recreational cycling and challenge races such as the Yorkshire Warrior.”


Head of Development

George Cull


George joined the North Yorkshire Sport team as Delivery Manager in May 2009. Previously he had spent just over two years working with Lancashire County Sports Partnership in the capacity of Partnership Development Officer working on the establishment of Lancashire Community Sports Networks, developing club accreditation and NGB Liaison. Prior to that role he had worked for Hyndburn Borough Council and Leisure in Hyndburn Trust as a Sports Development Officer. This post followed Georges graduation from York St Johns in 2002 with a degree in Leisure and Tourism Management, which he had completed after doing a BTEC in Sports Science at Yorkshire Coast College.

Georges role at North Yorkshire Sport involves overseeing the work of the team and leading on the North Yorkshire School Games, NGB and Local Authority Liaison, as well as overseeing the work on the Primary School Premium, and the Equality Standard for Sport.

Outside of work George is a keen footballer and plays for a Saturday league team. He also likes to cycle as well as running and the occasional triathlon.

Mob: 07770 352923
Tel: 01423 813032


Head of Development

Damien Smith

Damien Smith

Damien re-joined the North Yorkshire Sport team as Head of Development in April 2012 from his previous role as the Partnership Development Manager for the Harrogate School Sports Partnership which he held for 3 years. Prior to that Damien held the position of Delivery Manager for North Yorkshire Sport from 2007-2009 and has previously worked as the Senior Sports Development Officer for Harrogate Borough Council and Regional Development Officer for British Triathlon for a number of years. Damien graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University in 2001 with an Honours Degree in Physical Education.

Damien’s role at North Yorkshire Sport includes overseeing the work of the development team, leading on the Sportivate programme and a strategic lead for the Satellite Clubs programme. Damien also drives the Safeguarding work of the CSP and is the lead Safeguarding Officer at North Yorkshire Sport. Damien’s lead NGB sports are Football & Boxing across the County.
He performs a number of voluntary roles outside of his work including a position as a Safeguarding & Protecting Children Tutor for Sports Coach UK and a role as a Nominated Clubmark Officer for the English Cricket Board. Damien is a qualified Athletics, Football and Triathlon coach. He is a keen cyclist, novice runner, attends the gym regularly and is an avid skier.

Mob: 07766 760271
Tel: 01423 813031


Development Manager - Disability

Simon Pierce


Simon graduated from Swansea Institute of Higher Education with a BA degree in Sport and Recreation Management. After initially working for the Leeds Mental Health Trust as a Health Support Worker and a Fitness Instructor in the cities psychiatric hospitals, he was employed by the Federation of Disability Sports Organisations (FDSO) to develop a Healthy Living Project. That role changed to focus on Disability Sport Development within North Yorkshire.

Simon was employed by North Yorkshire Sport to continue the disability developed work within the county. His work remit entails facilitating county, regional and national disability sport development initiatives with delivery partners within the county, with the key work areas including:-

•Increase the number of coaches, volunteers and participation opportunities for disabled athletes.

•Look at performance pathways for disabled athletes.

•Lead on disability specific legacy programmes within the county.

Simon will take a lead on facilitating the work undertaken by the North Yorkshire Physical Activity Forum and developing the North Yorkshire Sport Equality policy.

Mob: 07414 911218
Tel: 01423 813035



Sport Development Manager

Lucy Smith


Having graduated from the University of Hull in 2004 with a BA (Hons.) degree in Sports Science and Management, Lucy began her career in sport working for Leeds City Council on community sports development followed by the role of Community Leisure Officer for City of York Council, predominantly working alongside the voluntary sports club sector assisting with club and volunteer development. Lucy joined the North Yorkshire Sport team in January 2008 as Volunteer Development Officer.

Her Current role includes assisting to develop the workforce across the sub region, increasing the number of volunteers involved in community sport, working closely with volunteer centres, local authorities and a range of voluntary organisations. Lucy is the lead for the 2012 volunteering legacy programme called Sportmakers.

Mob: 07423 632578
Tel: 01423 813036


Coaching Development Manager

Robin Lavin

 Robin Lavin

After graduating from Northumbria University in 2006 with a degree in Sport and Exercise Science Robin started his career in the North East working as a fitness instructor, personal trainer and a community rugby coach for the Rugby Football Union. In 2010 Robin then moved down to York to work for City of York Council as their Young People’s Physical Activity Officer helping local clubs to develop their junior sections.

Robin has since moved over to North Yorkshire Sport to take over from Pete Taylor as the Coaching Development Manager where he manages the North Yorkshire Coaches Database and organises CPD courses in the area.

In his spare time Robin enjoys keeping fit by going to the gym, swimming, cycling and running.   

Mob: 07780 571570
Tel: 01423 813039



Sport Development Manager

Jane Ratcliffe

Jane Ratcliffe

Jane has worked for the ASA for 4 and a half years; initially working on the Free Swimming Initiative, her remit has since included increasing participation through programmes such as Swimfit and Active Workplaces, business development for facilities, coordinating workforce training and club development. Prior to this she worked for Tees Valley Sport as Partnership Development Officer and South Lakeland District Council as Assistant Sports Development Officer after graduating from Durham University in 2004 with a degree in Sport in the Community and then from University of Central Lancashire in 2006 with a Masters in Business Management.

Jane’s role at North Yorkshire Sport involves looking after Satellite Clubs. 

Having just bought a house, her evenings and weekends are busy with DIY, but she also likes to keep fit through running, swimming and outdoor activities. 

Mob: 07554 073298
Tel: 01423 813034



Sport Development Manager

Sarah Stephenson

Sarah Graduated from Wolverhampton University in 2001 with a combined degree in Sport and Outdoor Education. Following this she was employed by Middlesbrough Council as a sport Development Officer for 3 years before moving to Tees Valley Sport to work as the lead coordinator for the National charity StreetGames for a further 3 years.

In 2010 Sarah began a role with Northumbria University as their Student Development Manager where she worked for 4 years on their volunteering and internship programme before taking up the role of Sport Development Manager here at North Yorkshire Sport.

Sarah’s role at North Yorkshire Sport involves assisting to develop the volunteer workforce across the area, increase the number of volunteers involved in sport and working with a range of local voluntary organisations.

In her spare time Sarah enjoys being active and captains her local hockey club.  When she can she also likes to spend time mountain biking, climbing and camping.

Mob: 07407 559658
Tel: 01423 813037

Sport Development Manager

Gavin Phillis

Gavin's main role is to lead Gavin’s main role is to lead on the support that NYS provides to Primary Schools across the North Yorkshire in relation to PE, Sport and Healthy Lifestyles. This is a part time role that Gavin does alongside his School Games Organiser which he started in 2011.

After graduating from Leeds University in 2008 with a degree in Sport Development and Physical Education Gavin started his career in the Craven School Sport Partnership as a community sports coach. In 2010 Gavin’s role changed to coaching manager where he oversaw the Craven School Sport Partnership coaching programme.

Gavin is a former semi-professional footballer who now spends a lot of his spare time on the golf course or in the kitchen. Gavin also volunteers at his local swim club and often takes part in open water swimming events.

Development Manager - Insight

Laura Tiemens

After graduating from University with a BA Hons degree in Cultural Studies, Laura went on to complete an MBA in Urban Regeneration at the University of Liverpool in 2004.  Following this, Laura spent three years working for a global logistics company in the performance and planning function of the business before joining the North Yorkshire Sport team in 2008.

Laura’s role focuses on the use of insight to drive sports participation and development, the demonstration of impact and the measurement of performance across the organisation and its programmes.  Laura works with key sports data such as The Active People Survey and Market Segmentation tool, to allow greater understanding of sports participation in North Yorkshire.

In her spare time Laura enjoys running and cycling and is an avid Everton fan.

Mob: 07918 143064
Tel: 01423 813038


Finance Officer

Phil Newby

I live in Leeds but am originally from Saddleworth.  I’ve worked in the voluntary sector all my working life: initially as a volunteer coordinator, but for the last 15+ years in charity finance roles.  I also work part time at Involve Yorkshire & Humber & HARCVS and I hold a masters degree in Charity Accounting and Financial Management. In my spare time I’m a keen mountaineer.

Tel: 01423 813032


Admin Assistant

Kelly Swale 


Kelly joined the North Yorkshire Sport team in February 2012.  Prior to this she worked at the Harrogate International Centre and took on various roles such as Marketing Assistant, Box Office Assistant and Team Administrator.

Kelly’s part-time role involves co-ordinating the impact report, website updating and general office administration for the North Yorkshire Sport team.

Tel: 01423 813032