Woodsmith Foundation Logo

About us

The Woodsmith Foundation is an independent charity launched to leave a positive and lasting legacy from the Woodsmith Mine to the boroughs of Scarborough, Redcar & Cleveland and the North York Moors National Park.

We take an approach that is flexible, learning with communities about what works best for them, adapting to the strengths in our villages and towns, and creating a culture that enables potential.

Our charitable objectives

Advance education, including supporting projects and training that benefit people by enhancing their skills

Promote the general health of the community

Advance environmental protection and improvement including the enhancing of the local landscape

Provide and improve facilities in the interests of social welfare and leisure time with the aim to improve residents' well-being

Help gain skills to those in need, because of financial hardship by being out-of-work, particularly the long-term unemployed

The Foundation was set up to offer wider community benefits in addition to the huge positive economic impact that the Woodsmith mine provides.

To find out more about the Woodsmith Project
visit the Anglo American website

Meet the team

Leah Swain

Chief Executive

Leah has a background in skills and enterprise development and believes strongly in the power of people making local changes to improve the lives of their family, friends and neighbours.

Leading the Foundation is a once in a lifetime opportunity to harness a wide range of resources to make a huge difference, working closely with individuals, groups and communities. She loves the variety of working across rural, urban, country and coastal locations and meeting the amazing people who are making good things happen.

When not at work Leah can be found gardening, cooking with her children, or training her dogs.

Gemma Sciré

Grants & Progammes Manager

Gemma is passionate about addressing the complex issues that face disadvantaged communities, enabling positive change for people to thrive.

Born and raised in Whitby, Gemma knows that the Woodsmith Foundation has a unique opportunity to work with local communities to bring about change that improves peoples' lives and is delighted to be able to bring back skills, knowledge and experience to help make that happen.

Outside of work, Gemma is studying for a MSc in Systems Thinking, alongside spending time in the sea, with her dogs, on a bike and with family.

Helen Kennedy

Community Connector

Helen’s passion is people. She is an engagement specialist, driven by active listening and her person-centered ethos.

Helen has many tools to hand to support and facilitate ideas and is excited by the opportunity to work across her hometown of Redcar.

Helen loves a good forest walk with her young family and dog Marley to relax and unwind.

Rebecca Wagner

Grants and Programmes Officer

Rebecca brings a wealth of administration experience and the passion for supporting our local communities. She has lived in and around the Redcar and Cleveland area for over 10 years.

Her role is to guide organisations through the Woodsmith Foundation’s grant making process, from enquiry to application, right through to monitoring.

Outside of work Rebecca enjoys travelling the country with her young family at motorsport events.


Ian Swales - Chair

Ian Swales - Chair

Jon Samuels

Jon Samuels

Dr. Elizabeth Walmsley

Dr. Elizabeth Walmsley

Will Woods

Will Woods

Neil Irving

Neil Irving

Jackie Flynn

Jackie Flynn

Sir Martin Narey

Sir Martin Narey


The Woodsmith Foundation is an independent charity and its strategic direction and funding decisions are overseen by a board of seven trustees. The trustees are responsible for the day-to-day running of the Foundation, together with the evaluation and approval of funding for local projects, and are guided by the Foundation’s Articles of Association.

The trustees are appointed by three “members” of the Foundation. The members act as guardians for The Foundation and are similar to shareholders in a company, except they are not permitted to take any funds out of The Foundation. The members are the only people who may appoint trustees or make changes to the Foundation’s Articles of Association. The current members are:

  • Anglo American Crop Nutrients

  • Mr Jim Dillon, former Chief Executive of Scarborough Borough Council

  • Mr Ian Swales, former MP for Redcar

The intention of the board and management of the original owners of the Woodsmith Mine (York Potash Ltd) was always to create a grant-giving body that would provide a lasting legacy for the community and, importantly, that would not be able to be unraveled by future management teams. The structure of the Foundation, its governance and its subsequent decision to register as a charity has therefore been deliberately designed to achieve this. The structure has allowed the company that owns the mine to contractually bind itself to share 0.5 per cent of revenue from Woodsmith Mine with The Foundation. The contract, which lasts for 100 years, was signed in 2013.