John Laing

About OYT South

Management and Trustees

Mark Todd

Mark Todd is OYT South's Chief Executive. Previously a solicitor, he has been working full-time in sail training since 1997, including nine years as Staff Skipper with OYT South. He moved into a shorebased role overseeing the development of the charity in November 2009, though he still skippers several voyages a year on board Prolific. In January 2011 he was announced as the inaugural winner of the MCA Award for Command Commitment to Sail Training.

Sally Croly

Caroline White is OYT South's Business Manager. Caroline first sailed with OYC as a young crew member in 1983. A journalist by trade, she is also a qualified fundraiser and a member of the Institute of Fundraising. She sails as a first mate, and was a Trustee of Ocean Youth Trust South for ten years before accepting the full-time post of Business Manager.

Sally Croly

Sally Croly is OYT South's Office Manager. She has travelled widely and spent four years in Hong Kong, where she worked for the police. She has been with OYT South since 2003, moving up steadily from part-time admin assistant to a full-time role running the office.


The current Board of Trustees of OYT South is:

Brian Eyres

Brian Eyres

Brian is a former Ocean Youth Club staff skipper, who first got involved with John Laing immediately after the vessel's naming ceremony. He went on to sail as second mate and volunteer on most weekends through five winter refits. In 1993 he started working full time for the Ocean Youth Club, sailing through the season and refitting in winter. The highlight of this period was sailing as first mate / skipper in John Laing and James Cook, her sister ship, when the two boats sailed round the world between December 1995 and March 1997.

As a qualified book-keeper, Brian does a lot of work on OYT South's administration and budgeting.

In 2015, Brian was awarded a Lifetime Commitment Award from the Royal Yachting Association for his work with OYT South.



Yvonne Taylor

Yvonne runs her own business, KTY Yachts, offering RYA and other courses to yachtsmen and yachtswomen. Among other things, she has a particular expertise in first aid and other medical courses, and in safety at sea. She formerly sailed in John Laing as a relief skipper.


Steve Lacey



Steve Lacey

Steve is qualified as both a teacher and a youth worker specialising in outdoor education. He has extensive yacht racing experience, frequently as a race navigator. He retired as a Senior Youth Worker with Dorset County Council in June 2015. He became involved with OYT South by bringing a group of young people to sail in 2002, and quickly qualified as a second mate. He is OYT South's Safeguarding Officer.

Fiona Pankhurst


Fiona Pankhurst

Fiona was previously Head of Corporate Marketing & PR at Raymarine, and before that UK Operations Manager with Beneteau. She also has extensive experience of the charity world through involvement with the National Trust, Imperial Cancer Research Fund and Marie Curie Cancer Care. She owns a small 1970's vintage sailing cruiser with her husband and, as an ex-World Champion dinghy crew, still gets pathetically competitive when passed by faster vessels (which happens a lot). She says: "I have seen the positive difference that learning to sail, becoming part of a team, and exposure to a completely different environment can make to young people and hope to play a useful part by bringing my business skills, contacts and knowledge to bear for the benefit of OYT South and the young people themselves.”

Fred Cole


Fred Cole

Fred was Sales Manager Yacht North Europe for International Paint until 2016. Trained as a Chemist, having worked for Unilever and Morgan Crucible plc in fields as diverse as cosmetics, emulsion chemistry and industrial lubricants.  He has experience in marketing, sales, project management, PR, sponsorships, business strategy, employee relations and general management. Outside of the workplace, he has been involved in local politics, voluntary organizations and supporting local schools. Fred has some experience of both cruising and racing sailing.

Fred was Chairman of the Board of OYT South from January 2009 to January 2013.

Ben Martin


Ben Martin

Having done many years of sailing 30-footers around the south and east coast with family, he moved on to OYT South firstly as crew, qualifying as watchleader in 2006, stepping up to second mate in 2007 and first mate in 2009. He was nominated by OYT South in 2008 for an ASTO exchange award, which he won, to spend time on board a sail training vessel in Canada.

He joined the Board of Trustees in October 2008 and was our Youth Trustee 2008-12. Ben now works in renewable fuels for Phillips66 and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers.


Richard Griffiths

Richard is a barrister who was appointed District Judge in 2017.  He became a Trustee in 2009 to oversee the Trust's legal and regulatory affairs.  He was Chair of the Board of Trustees of OYT South from January 2013 to May 2017 and oversaw the project to buy and refit Prolific.  Richard is a keen sailor, having started sailing in mirror dinghies as a child and progressing to offshore racing boats in later years.

Mike Bowles


Colonel (Ret'd) Mike Bowles

Mike served in the Royal Navy for two years and then the British Army for 34 years where he specialised in Port and Maritime Operations. He retired with the rank of Colonel following which he has worked as a consultant in management and security in the marine field. More recently he has worked for Sail Training International in both a voluntary capacity helping with the Tall Ships Races organisation and currently in a paid capacity as part time Race Director.

He is very interested in charitable work and is a Trustee of two other charities - the South Atlantic Medal Association and Falklands Conservation. An experienced dinghy and offshore sailor, he is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, and a Companion of the Nautical Institute. Mike was elected to the Board in 2009.

Eamonn Feeney

Eamonn Feeney

Eamonn is a Chartered Accountant and retired in 2015 as Managing Director of the MDL marina chain.

He joined the Trustees in January 2013 to provide additional help with finance and general management issues. In May 2017 he became Chair of the Board of Trustees.



Jack Dignan

Jack was born unable to see out of his left eye and first sailed with OYT South in 2014 at the age of 17 with a group organised by MACS, the charity for children born without eyes or with underdeveloped eyes. He was invited back for volunteer training and rose rapidly through the ranks from bosun to third mate and then second mate in 2015. He also represented OYT South at a number of events and spoke eloquently about the impact that sail training can have on young people. In November 2015, he was elected to the Board of Trustees, maintaining our longstanding commitment to ensuring that at least one Trustee is in the age range 18-25.


Lesley Robinson

Lesley Robinson

Lesley took up a new role as Chief Executive with British Marine in July 2018, having previously been Managing Director of MDL Marinas. “I have a commercial, international and business development background, in a variety of sectors including leisure, media, IT and FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods). I am passionate about the charities I actually support and am currently treasurer for a foundation for women enhancing women’s empowerment in the third world. I also run, enjoy my family life and do the odd bit of sailing when I can.”


Edward Bishop

Edward Bishop QC

Ed was co-opted to the Board in July 2017 and stood for election by the members in November 2017.

He says: “I am a barrister specialising in medical negligence, human rights, personal injury and police law. I have been practising for 30 years and became a QC in 2011. I also play the fiddle in the country folk band Police Dog Hogan. I don’t know which was more frightening: appearing in the Supreme Court or in front of a 10,000 festival crowd in Cornbury. But I know which I enjoyed more!”







“I made some really good friends and we all sailed together as a true team.” Ben, 18