Ruth Snary - Chair
I was born in Birmingham and then studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London. I then worked in the theatre for some years before moving to Bristol with my husband and had two children, both of whom are grown up with families of their own. I studied for an Open University degree when the children were small and subsequently became a lecturer in Performing Arts at the UWE, a post I held for 20 years. For the last 20 years I have been a magistrate in Bristol.
My years dealing with students and young people have taught me what an invaluable resource they are for our city but some need extra help and encouragement. As a magistrate I have appreciated that some people may face considerable struggles but, with the aid of wonderful projects like SOFA, help can be given so that their lives and those near them can be transformed.
Born & educated in Edinburgh, I taught in secondary and tertiary education in Scotland before moving to Hong Kong where I taught in a secondary school. Before returning to UK, I retrained to teach people with Dyslexia and then taught in an adult male prison. While working there I became involved, as a volunteer, on a reading scheme with Shannon Trust. I have had various roles with Shannon Trust over 17 years, and am now area coordinator for 6 prisons in the southwest.
I am privileged to be able to help make a difference to people who may be struggling at times in their lives. The reuse and recycling of household goods is something I thoroughly approve of and support.
Retired Marketing Director
I am interested in philanthropic work and have been a Soroptimist for over 39 years. I served as a National Association President of Soroptimist International of Nigeria, where the Club runs a Nursery and Primary School in a deprived area of Lagos, Nigeria, I was born in Nigeria and raised in the UK. I finished my school years in Guildford, Surrey, before obtaining a degree in business management from the New State University, Malta, and an MBA in Nigeria.
Working in the marketing sector for over 25 years with UPS, I decided to take early retirement and established a printing services company specialising in the private sector. In 2018, I decided to fully retire and relocate to Bristol, spending quality time with my family, especially my grandchildren. I am now a member of the Bristol Soroptimist Club.
I volunteer with AGEUK Bristol, where we help with giving advice and support to the elderly on many issues in the Bristol area. I am very impressed with the SOFA Project. I believe the services they provide in the community are much needed and appreciated. This is a charity I am happy to be a part of as it continues to be a positive solution in the community.
Chris Neild Vice chair
Bristol born businessman
Recently retired from 20 years as a business consultant to biomedical companies, most of them small and in the early phase of development, I previously worked in various countries for an international chemicals/pharmaceutical company and before that in a small family business in textiles in Manchester, where I was born and brought up. I have a degree in German and Philosophy.
SOFA fulfils an important function in supporting the many groups who find life a challenge in one way or another, whether they be purchasers of its products or workers in its operation. I am delighted to be involved and as much as I am able to draw on my business experience to help the organisation thrive and expand its good work.
Deputy Branch Manager, John Lewis
I am the deputy branch manager at John Lewis in Bristol, having worked there for almost 30 years. During this time, I have held a wide range of roles, including general leadership roles, warehouse management, HR, new shop opening and time in head office. I’m passionate about the high street and the role it plays in our lives and particularly how it evolves in the coming years.
I’ve lived in Bristol all my life in various parts of the city and am the mum of two children who I love to spend time with, but whom are now very independent!
I hope my knowledge and leadership in the retail sector can bring valuable insight to the Sofa Project. I look forward to assisting this important work so that it may thrive in the coming years supporting the community for the better.
Marketing and Communications Consultant
I started my career in advertising in London, before taking broader senior marketing roles at Prudential and later LloydsTSB in Bristol. I then joined the senior management team at UWE Bristol alongside other roles such as Governor for a local FE College and representing the sector on national bodies. I now provide consultancy.
I have lived in Bristol for some 25 years. I was drawn to the SOFA Project because it offered a role model for today’s economy – achieving multiple outcomes from each donation in terms of meaningful employment for those in need, rehabilitation of prisoners, help for those on low incomes and preventing landfill.
Retired charity director
Now retired I worked for 25 years for the Workers’ Educational Association eventually as Director of Education & Strategy for England and later Director of Membership, Volunteering & Marketing. My adult and community education experience had a particular focus on disadvantaged adults in communities across the West Midlands.
Prior to that I was a Community Development officer and originally a Town Planner with Telford New Town Development Corporation. I live in Clevedon where I’m active in Sustainable Clevedon – a Transition Town group.
I'm a qualified accountant and have recently retired from a career working in the Life and Pensions industry for Lloyds Banking Group, HBoS and Clerical Medical all in Bristol. The majority of my career has been in business partnering and risk roles supporting the directors and senior management to deliver strategy, business performance and manage risk.
After growing up in Yorkshire and Lancashire I went to Liverpool University obtaining a degree in Biochemistry. After university I moved to Bristol and have been here for nearly 40 years. I'm married with two grown up children who are still in the Bristol area.
I've been impressed by the positive impact with which the SOFA Project delivers its purpose through rehabilitation, reuse & support for low income families. I hope to be able to add financial & business support for the continued success of the organisation.