Meet the Board
Suzanne Gahlings - Chair of Trustees
I have lived and worked in the Wakefield District for the past 33 years. I started out as a detached youth worker in Upton and Airedale and since then I have run lots of Youth Projects including The Green House in Kellingley Club, and The Van in Kinsley, Hemsworth and South Elmsall. I’ve taken numerous groups of young people on exchange programmes to our twin towns in Germany, France and Poland. I have set up sexual health and counselling services for young people and helped to establish the Youth Parliament and different ways of involving young people in how services were set up, run and monitored.
From the Youth Service I moved into Public Health where I was involved in reducing teenage pregnancy, and with my colleague Denise Wheatman developed Wakefield’s Risk and Resilience Framework.
I have been Chair at Star since July 2019 - this has been a challenge and fun in equal measures. A challenge because finding funding to support Star’s valuable work has been incredibly difficult, and fun because of the great team and the amazing children and young people who come to the service and soon too, become part of the team.
Zena Joanne Chapman – Trustee
My name is Zena Joanne Chapman, I decided to become a Trustee for Star Bereavement Support Service after experiencing first hand, the impact of childhood bereavement. Having worked in both children’s services and with multi national companies for over 35 years, I feel passionately, I have the breadth of knowledge and experience to take on this role. My aim is to ensure the service moves from strength to strength and is able to provide support when it’s needed.
Stuart Hawkes - Board Member
Stuart has been working creatively with communities since 1990, primarily with young people deemed to be at risk; including working alongside Action for Children for 17 years, developing and delivering ARTiculation, their national flagship participation programme. Stuart has held a range of roles including Director, National Association of Youth Theatres – during which time he sat on the Arts Council of England’s Social Inclusion Advisory Board and was a member of the Welcome Trust Foundations’ grant assessment panel.
More recently, Stuart has taken a job with Community Links (Northern) as their Community Engagement and Development Worker, working with adults who are managing long-term mental health issues. He is currently a member of the Mental Health Providers Forum, the Men's Mental Health Group and the Suicide Prevention Action Group in Kirklees. Originally from Hull, Stuart lives in Featherstone with his partner Karen, son Louis and Archie the dog.
Heather McKnight - Board Member
Having experienced multiple bereavements as a child first-hand, I understand the impact not dealing with grief appropriately can have on you, even as an adult. I decided to become a trustee at Star Bereavement in 2022 to help children and young people deal with their loss and learn how to move forward with their lives, understanding how to live with grief on a day-to-day basis.
Professionally I have worked with children, young people, and adults, to understand and connect them to what matters to them, their communities, and their culture, recognising there is not a one size fits all approach and that there are many factors that impact on the heath and care we want to receive.
As a trustee, I hope to be able to bring together my professional and personal experiences to create a safe space for children and young people in Wakefield to talk about, explore and deal with their own personal grief.