Since 2007 the Great Wood Trust has overseen the running and development of Great Wood Camp and is comprised as follows:
Great Wood Trustees
John Simmons (Chair)
John first turned up at Great Wood as an uninvited boyfriend of a teenage camper at the Easter youth Camp run by John Inchley. This was in 1968, and since then he married Jan and Great Wood has been an important part of both of their lives. Through running camps for teenagers and support for SU’s camping ministry worldwide John has come to realise the huge impact good young adult role-modelling has on the spiritual development of children and young people. The effective formula of Christians who take their faith in Jesus seriously being able to have fun and develop deep friendships is a part of the brilliance of Great Wood.
John was involved in the evolution of Great Wood from a minor part of SU in England to a thriving Charitable Trust in its own right, whilst retaining essential and valued links with SU’s ministry. He remains responsible for the overall direction and vision of the Trust, ably supported by a talented bunch of co-trustees – and of course, by two valued and enthusiastic members of staff.
Richard first went to Great Wood Camp when he was a teenager and enjoyed two summer camps. Many years later when he was working for a firm of accountants, his boss suggested he should go to the Easter Youth Focus Camp as they needed someone to play keyboard in the band. That boss was John Simmons! Richard became a trustee in 2020, and with his background in finance, hopes to be able to bring that skill set to bear.
He lives in Bournemouth with his wife Karen and two children, George and Lily. He works as finance director for a Dorset-based construction company.
For Richard, Great Wood Camp will always be a place where somehow God seems incredibly close, and therefore it has become very precious. His favourite spot is sitting outside the Mess Hut looking across to the cabins.
Dr Jon Chambers
Jon works as a Consultant Anaesthetist at Dorset County Hospital. He has lived in Dorset since 2007 along with his wife Amy and their 2 boys (Tom and Samuel). Jon has grown up with Great Wood as a core part of his spiritual journey. He came as a camper and led The Real Thing Scripture Union holiday on site with Amy for a number of years. Jon has been actively involved in school governance, medical education and clinical governance for several years. His favourite part of Great Wood Camp is the Chapel. Peaceful, calming (even when the site is busy) and full of happy memories.
Rev Mike Haslam
‘Faith, family, friends [including furry ones] and fell-running’ is Mike’s introduction on Twitter. As a Church of England priest he has served in parishes and as a chaplain in schools, colleges and a university. He is Chaplaincy Development Adviser for the Diocese of Bath and Wells, based in Somerset [a half marathon run over the hills from Great Wood].
Mike loves the opportunities that he gets as a chaplain to meet with the 95% of people who don’t regularly [monthly] visit a place of worship, and live and tell the story of God’s love. It was chaplaincy which drew him to Great Wood, where there is an amazing chaplain, and where he has seen lives changed by the chaplaincy ministry. His favourite part of Great Wood Camp is the surroundings.
When Sue was 11, she attended a girls’ summer camp at Great Wood with two friends. Neither of them ever came again, and Sue never stopped! After working her way up through the Scripture Union camps, she became a junior cook at Youth Focus and began a love affair with the Great Wood kitchen which has endured for many years!
Sue has been on camps, visited camps, led camps (Space – with her husband Andy for 19 years, and latterly Love Great Wood), and cooked for all sorts of camps and events at Great Wood. Her favourite place at camp is, of course, the kitchen! She particularly loves that we are still using saucepans that have been at camp since the days of John Inchley.
Rev Chris Owen
Born to Great Wood Camp leaders, Chris has been a camper, helper and holiday leader at Great Wood over the years. He is married to Gen, has two lively children, is a Church of England Vicar in High Wycombe and leads a youth holiday at Great Wood Camp for older teenagers called The Real Thing. His favourite thing about Great Wood is that the site is like the perfect theatre backdrop – ready for each of us to step in and play our part.
Following an initial invitation from a new school friend, Jim Rennison was a camper at Great Wood through the 1980s at camps under the leadership of John and Jan Simmons. He then joined the “Youth Focus” team and subsequently was a part of the “Space” team under Sue and Andy Keighley for nearly all of its 19 years. It is a foundational part of his faith journey, the place that he met his wife and several of his childrens God-parents. He and Mary have 2 girls – Millie and Jess.
He joined the trust at its formation in 2007 and has been on the board ever since. Previously a pharmacist, Jim stepped sideways several years ago. He is now self-employed and works in property management and maintenance. He is the site manager for his London church – All Saints, Peckham. He has a particular interest in the maintenance of the site, its buildings and facilities – he especially likes inspecting the pool … from the water! Jim loves to get out on the Quantocks by foot or bike – he likes going up them but he really likes coming down!
Jan first attended Great Wood as a camper in 1966 when John Inchley was running Youth Focus. Latterly she and her husband John ran the Youth Focus holiday. Then she was involved in running Wide Open for young people with a learning difficulty. Jan’s favourite part of camp is the entrance gate… the first glimpse of the site and the anticipation of all that will happen in the following days.
David first came to Great Wood in 1968 at the direct invitation of John Inchley who was running his confirmation retreat early that year. Since then he has been able to visit the site every year, at least once. His wife Pauline became involved in the Great Wood family in 1976 and they have been running the Easter Work Party since 1988.
David became a trustee in 2014, at which time he was asked to take on the responsibility for managing the ad hoc weekend bookings that are so much a part of Great Wood. With so much time spent at Great Wood over the years he has come to love the place, and what it stands for, hugely. Being able to ‘get away from it all’ into this wonderful part of God’s creation is always wonderful and a great joy.
- Patrick Weld (Chaplain)
- Andy Bennett (Site Manager)
- John Owen (Treasurer)
- Morey Andrews (Deanery Support)
- Jo Morley & Margaret Lilley (Scripture Union representatives)