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.
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.
Jack Gregson - Trustee
I decided to become a trustee at Star in October 2022 because I saw the amazing work which Star has already been doing to support children and young people and I wanted to help out in any way I can. I have previously worked in charities, so I understand the challenges they face whilst also witnessing the immense positive impact they can have on the world; one area I am particularly passionate about is youth voice and empowerment, which I hope to implement as much as possible on the board. Furthermore, coming from a psychology background I see my role on the board as helping Star be as psychologically-informed and trauma-informed in their practice as possible, as well as helping out wherever I’m needed!