Current Board of Directors

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Chair of the Board of Directors, John Palmer is a retired nurse, having worked for over 40 years in the NHS – 31 of which were based in the Highlands.  

John initially trained as a general nurse and went on to focus on mental health, coming to Inverness as a manager at Craig Dunain hospital.  

As well as being involved with Birchwood Highland, John volunteers as a guard on the Strathspey Steam Railway and is part of the group looking after the community woodlands in Reelig Glen. 

John is a native of Hampshire, but has now lived longer in Scotland than in England.

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Originally from Jersey, Sarah grew up in Glasgow before attending university in Dundee, studying for a BSc in microbiology.  Following nine years working in medical and water quality microbiology, Sarah spent a further nine years in various roles with United Utilities in financial planning, quality management, asset management and risk management.

Living in the Highlands since 2006, Sarah is Regional Development Manager North for Lead Scotland, a national charity that empowers disabled people and carers and those who experience exclusion to improve their lives through learning. 

Joining the Board of Birchwood Highland in May 2016, Sarah brings multi-sector experience in governance, social enterprise and business development to her role with the Board along with a passion for supporting lifelong learning for everyone.

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George Livingstone

George is a qualified Social Worker and Manager with 35 years’ experience at a range of levels in the Health and Social Care Sector.

George has been involved in the Charity Sector for over 35 years, with both the British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (BASPCAN) as well as with Action on Child Exploitation (ACHE).  

George is a golfer and is involved in folk and Scottish music, playing guitar, banjo, bouzouki and bodhran.   He has over many years played in semi-professional bands is part of a very successful semi-professional band who play in a wide variety of venues from small pubs and clubs up to a 1000 seat theatre, even going on tour annually.



Bio coming soon.

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Eilidh Edgar

A Lochaber native, Eilidh Edgar joined the Board of Birchwood Highland in December 2017.

Eilidh is Operations Manager for Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) Inverness and Central Highland; a Scottish Government initiative designed to build strong working partnerships between education and industry, reinforcing the links between learning and the world of work. 

Previous to her role at DYW, Eilidh worked for RBS for over 15 years, employed latterly as Business Manager and also serving as Branch Manager in Inverness for over 6 years.

Eilidh’s understanding of the local business community, teamed with her experienced financial background, as well as a passion for mental health care in the Highlands, brings a wealth of knowledge to the Board of Directors.

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Leslie Foale

Leslie Foale has been in association with Birchwood Highland since 2012.  Leslie’s contributions to Birchwood Highland are in a variety of ways with a focus on Birchwood Highland’s financial health.  This is due to her 30 years of practical business experience in the international financial industry. In addition, since taking permanent residence in Scotland, Leslie has expanded into the retail industry with her own sole proprietorship. Insight and experience gained from this development assists Birchwood Highland as they seek future strategic development in strengthening their services and overall business. 

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A native and resident of Inverness, with strong Caithness connections, Kim Thain joined the Board of Birchwood Highland in May 2013.

Kim is Marketing Manager for Caledonian Sleeper, an overnight rail service between Scotland and London.  Previously, Kim worked for Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), most recently as Media Relations Officer for six years, but also as Development Manager - International Business and various roles within the HIE procurement team.

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Steven has been a Director at Birchwood Highland since 2013.  Steven has worked in the public and private sector in a variety of roles, including Lloyds Banking Group, Highland Council and presently the University of the Highlands and Islands. 

Steven’s interest in mental health and recovery came about from close friends at university experiencing poor mental health, and increasing coverage in the media and workplace about mental health.  Away from the Board, Steven enjoys running, cycling, swimming and hillwalking, and also volunteers with his local Community Trust.



Bio coming soon.

About our Board

Birchwood Highland’s Board of Directors are members of the public who have particular skills and experience that they can bring to the company in a voluntary capacity.  They play a very important role in the company in terms of making key strategic decisions and monitoring the company’s progress from an external perspective.  They also have a very important standing with staff throughout the company.  Directors posts do not receive remuneration.

The Board meets bi-monthly and an Annual General Meeting is held in the autumn.  The AGM is attended by Directors and Members of the company.

Role of the Board

The role of a Director (or charity trustee) brings with it key legal and ethical responsibilities.  Under the leadership of the Chair, individual Directors will seek to ensure probity, provide good governance and work in partnership with Birchwood Highland managers to achieve the company’s aims, whilst abiding by and complying with charity law and regulations.  Some of the key aims of the Board are to:

  • Provide firm, strategic direction to the company;

  • Set overall policy and standards;

  • Define goals, set targets and evaluate performance against these targets;

  • Excercise overall supervision and control over the company’s activities;

  • Ensure that all business is conducted in line with the interests of both current and future service users.

For more information about the role of a Director/Trustee and to apply for a position on the Board of Directors please take a look at the downloads below. If you'd like to apply, please click below.