CRAIG HIGNETT – HONORARY PRESIDENT
We’re pleased to finally announce HUST’s new Honorary President, a man who needs no introduction to Pools fans (or indeed the wider football family)… Craig Hignett!
We’re grateful to Craig for accepting our invitation and we will no doubt benefit from his footballing experience and knowledge, as a player, manager and director of football.
It’s clear speaking with Craig that he has a huge affection for Pools and was recently back in the town with Jeff Stelling to talk with fans.
“I was honoured to be asked by the Supporters’ Trust at Pools to be their honorary president. I hope I can use my experience, time in football and contacts to lend support where I can. It’s great that Pools fans are so passionate about the future of their club and I’ve seen the good work they do with community organisations.
“The trust is ultimately there to represent fans, so the more members there are the stronger the voice. I would urge all Pools fans to join up. The Trust have done well to build a fund that in the right circumstances will ultimately really benefit the club.
“I look forward to meeting again with HUST’s board and fans in the future but in the meantime get behind the team.“
Julia Newton – Chairperson
I have been a supporter of the Football Club for close to 40 years and a season ticket holder for a significant number of years. Along with my husband I attend hospitality events at the club, making lifelong friends while supporting Pools. I also joined as a member of the Trust when it was set up and I fully support the ambition to work in partnerships, to develop a successful football club that benefits the town and the community.
I have a background in finance and am currently working in Human Resources, where I have gained extensive project management experience. Skills include working with people, good organisation, integrity and reliability.
My role as Chair is to oversee and implement the overall strategic aims of HUST, as well as acting as the main liaison between HUST, the Football Club and other Supporters groups. I am keen to promote HUST to those HUFC supporters who may not recognise what the key benefits of a Supporters’ Trust are.
Alastair Shepherd – Vice-Chairperson / Communications Officer
I first watched Pools back in 1984 and I got to enjoy the glory days of 90/91 – that kind of raw emotion and joy never leaves you despite 30 years of ups and downs since. I’m currently a season ticket holder and over the years have stood or sat in most areas of the ground, often with my daughter.
We’re incredibly lucky and thankful that Raj stepped in when he did but there are still challenges ahead and I really believe that putting fans at the centre of decisions will stand us in good stead for years to come, to the benefit of both owners and supporters. Our club is blessed with loyal, passionate fans, whichever side of the ground they prefer and I’m here to help HUST with communication, which we want to be very much a two way thing. I am a director of a UK Top 100 architectural practice by day; with offices around the country clear communication has been key to thriving especially through the last few years.
I have overall responsibility for HUST social media and the website, also supporting with member communications and developing new ideas in which to engage members, HUFC supporters and the wider community. As vice-chair I am also here to support our chairperson and help to drive forward initiatives that promote Pools in the wider community.
Michael Weir – Diversity and People Officer
I have been attending matches since 1990 and, despite the pain it can cause, I want to continue to do this, hopefully with my son when he is old (but not wise) enough to attend with me.
In my profession, my focus and passion is on building relationships and developing people; with this it is sometimes important to offer constructive criticism and advice. I will continue to help develop our relationship with the club in this vein, including supporting with any people focused strategies and give any support that the Club might need. This focus has given me the opportunity to support the Football Club with development of some people strategies including policies and procedures .
In addition, my role also incorporates community work, in particular around Diversity and Inclusion. I’m proud of my role in reaching out to those who might not think Pools is for them and look to build on this further and have helped build links with Autism, LGBT+, Mental Health and Homeless organisations, amongst others. I also lead on HUST’s Community Tickets initiative.
Tom Atkinson – Secretary
I was born in Stockton and was brought up on a farm outside Hartlepool with one sister and two brothers, all of whom are farmers. I trained as a Chartered Accountant, qualifying in 1981, and admitted as a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in 1982. I trained at Wm Fortune & Son in Hartlepool and worked my way up from the bottom becoming a partner in 1986. My first job after qualifying in 1982/83 was to be seconded to a firm of timber importers in Hull as Financial Accountant. My Russian O level was useful because the old Soviet Union was a major supplier of timber and I could at least deal with the invoices etc which were all in Russian. On the plus side, if any of the Russians came over there was an unending supply of vodka, sometimes for breakfast!
The rest of my working life has been spent in Church Square at Wm Fortune & Son, a short walk from the football ground. As a practising accountant most of the time is spent helping people, families and businesses to solve whatever challenges they come up against and try to plan for the future.
I have served as a governor of Houghall Agricultural College and East Durham College at Peterlee and am also a former president of Durham County Young Farmers Clubs. Currently I am a director of Northern Cross.
The first match I saw at the Victoria Ground was a 0-0 draw against Lincoln City in December 1970. In truth, the only thing I remember about the match was that the day was bitingly cold. The highlight of watching Pools has to be the trip to Cardiff in 2005 which coincided with our wedding anniversary. My wife organised a weekend in Wales which included the match.
Paul Larter – Membership Officer
As a lifelong Pools fan, the idea of a Supporters’ Trust is something I’ve always been in favour of, and I joined as soon as it was established. Only a few years ago the club was in dire straits and survival was not certain. It was clear to me that fan involvement was critical to the club’s future. I am still very strongly of the opinion that a Supporters’ Trust is vital to our club’s future success.
HUST has shown that we are serious about investment but we also continue to demonstrate that we can support the local community. The two things are intertwined as we look to build the club back up again.
I currently work as a mechanical design engineer, with experience as a project manager. An important part of my work is to put thoughts and ideas forward to groups, something which I think can be of value to the board.
I support with the community aspect of HUST, presenting ideas of how to engage with the local community and help promote HUFC as a welcoming environment for all supporters. I have also led on national initiatives, taking part in the Fan-Led Review on Football Governance, consulting with the Football League and promoting movements such as Her Game Too.
My role includes the membership secretary responsibilities. I want to help communicate to fans the importance of having a Trust; these organisations are there to support the club, with fan engagement central to a sustainable future.
Ed Parkinson – Community Engagement Officer / Content Provider
I can’t remember my first Pools match – my grandad was club secretary (for getting on 50 years!) and started taking me to matches with him as soon as I was old enough not to irritate everybody!
Since then, I’ve always attended matches regularly, although over a decade working and living abroad made getting to the Vic more difficult than I would have liked in recent seasons, particularly at the height of Covid! Even so, I’ve continued to write positively about Pools for When Saturday Comes and also contribute features to the HUST website.
I joined HUST as soon as it was formed and now that I’m back in the North-East permanently I’ve got my season ticket and am keen to help the trust and support Pools in any way I can.
Jo Grylls – Community Engagement Officer
My love for Pools and a wish to see it become a sustainable and community orientated club led me to become involved with the Hartlepool United Supporters’ Trust. I believe in the aims and goals of the Trust, and I believe that all fans are an integral part of any football club, investing their time and money to follow their Team through thick and thin!
Communication and liaison is a big part of the role, building relationships with the Club, community and other agencies and playing a key role in the dialogue between Football Supporters Association, HUST and the Club.
My current role is to help promote HUFC as a community orientated Football Club, developing and supporting events that also help encourage as many people in the wider community as possible feel safe and comfortable attending Victoria Park.
Mark Reeve – Community Engagement Officer
My first Pools game was a cracker, the FA Cup victory over Crystal Palace in January 1993 which I went to with my dad. My love affair with the club began then, aged 7 and it’s something I want to share with my son, hopefully with the club in the football league still! I’ve been able to attend some of our best games in recent years and was in Cardiff for the day that almost was.
I’ve been a member of the trust for a year or two now and I believe that a strong relationship with the club can only be a good thing for both parties. My working background is in admin and customer services, and I believe I have strengths that can be put to use in helping to improve the bond between the trust and the club.
We as fans are all grateful that Raj Singh stepped in when he did, as the club might not have been here in its current form. I do believe that the club could be stronger with some sort of fan involvement, no matter how small and it’s my opinion that the supporters trust are best placed to offer that fan involvement.
The board also benefits from the experience of co-opted members. We have specialist accountancy and legal skills to draw on, as well as assistance with fundraising and financial oversight, particularly for our monthly, licensed lottery.
We’re incredible grateful for their support and expert advice.