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Constitution and board

Providing world class corporate governance

As a statutory trust established by an Act of Parliament in 1882, Blyth Harbour Commission is responsible for conservancy and safe navigation on the River Blyth and operates for the benefit of all stakeholders who include commercial and leisure port users, our employees, the local community and the regional and national economy.

A board of eight Commissioners, including the Chief Executive, oversees the strategy of the Port and it’s subsidiary Transped, meeting with the executive management on at least a bi-monthly basis. Commissioners are led by a Chair and are appointed based on their significant experience and skills, each serving a three year term with an option for re-election.

Geoff Hodgson

Chair

Geoff Hodgson spent his early career in sales and marketing roles for multinational companies including Proctor and Gamble, Diageo and Coca Cola. He returned to the North East in 1994 to work for Newcastle Breweries, ultimately becoming Chief Executive of the Federation Brewery. He is currently working as an investor, advisor and mentor with a variety of local companies and has held a number of non-executive Board positions regionally.

Geoff is currently involved with the Nigel Wright Group, Clearly Drinks, Trustack and UMI amongst other business interests. He is also deputy chair of the Tyne & Wear Community Foundation and Durham School.

Geoff was appointed a Commissioner in 2012, became Deputy Chair in 2014 and Chair in 2016.

Stephen mills

Deputy Chair

Stephen Mills practised as a shipping lawyer for 38 years, and is now a full time mediator of shipping, insurance and energy disputes. Until 2013 he was also part of the senior management team of one of the world’s largest marine mutual insurance companies, where he remains a consultant.

He was a founder partner of law firm Rayfield Mills, the Maritime Solicitors Mediation Service and most recently SeaMediation, his current mediation practice. He is the author of two books; on Bills of Lading (now in its third edition) and Letters of Indemnity.

Stephen was appointed a Commissioner in 2013 and Deputy Chair in 2016. He is also Chair of the Trustees of the Port’s Pension Scheme.

Martin Lawlor

Chief Executive

Martin Lawlor was appointed Chief Executive of Blyth Harbour Commission in 2006 having previously held the roles of Deputy Chief Executive and Commercial & Operations Director. In overseeing the Group, Martin also acts as Chair of BHC’s subsidiary company, Transped.

Prior to joining the Commission in 1994, Martin held various commercial management roles at the ports of Tees & Hartlepool (now PD Ports). A former Deputy Chair of the North East Chamber of Commerce (Northumberland Committee), he has held positions on a number of regional economic and strategic boards. Martin is the Chair of the British Port’s Association, a council member of Maritime UK, a non-executive Board Member of Port Skills and Safety and serves on the executive group of Subsea NE.

Martin was appointed Chief Executive and a Commissioner in 2006.

Andrew Cunningham

Commissioner

Andrew Cunningham trained as a chartered accountant in London and then worked in Nairobi and Bristol before being made a partner in the Newcastle office of a predecessor firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers. In 1996 he was made finance director of Grainger PLC which became the UK’s largest listed residential investor, and then CEO in 2009 before retiring in 2015.

Andrew now acts as non-executive director or adviser to a number of North East businesses and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Andrew was appointed a Commissioner in 2016.

Gillian Hall

Commissioner

Gillian Hall is a highly respected contributor to private and public sector organisations in the region through various non-executive roles, her corporate finance consultancy business and mentoring for growth.

Gillian was the first female Senior Partner at Watson Burton LLP, a national law firm with offices in Newcastle, Leeds and London, and before that, led the firm’s corporate team for many years. Her current roles include sitting as a board member of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, where she is Chair of the Innovation Board and Deputy Chair of the Investment Board. She also chairs a very ambitious, growth-orientated digital marketing business with offices across the North.

Gillian was appointed a Commissioner in 2014 and is also a Trustee on the Port’s Pension Scheme.

Catherine Young

Commissioner

Catherine Young qualified as a chartered accountant with KPMG before going on to spend time both in practice and industry, including with PwC and Reg Vardy PLC. Catherine holds several advisory, nonexecutive and executive director roles, including as a Senior Independent Director at the North East Ambulance Service where she is currently Vice Chair and Chair of Audit Committee. Past non-executive roles include Chair of Audit Committee at national charity Breast Cancer Care and as a Governor at the University of Sunderland.

Catherine brings her experience in governance, board reporting and accountancy to her role as a Commissioner.

Catherine was appointed a Commissioner in 2015 and is also Chair of the Audit Committee and a Trustee of the Port’s Pension Scheme.

Paul Hardisty

Commissioner

Paul has over 35 years’ experience in the Energy industry having worked for a number of global companies including GE, Halliburton, Aker Solutions and mostly recently Royal IHC. During his career he has spent a significant amount of time living and working overseas including Australia, Norway, USA, Brazil and The Netherlands.

Paul returned to the North East in 2014 as Managing Director of IHC Engineering Business and subsequently became Executive Director in Royal IHC B.V leading the capital equipment businesses in the UK and The Netherlands prior to leaving them in 2020.

Paul was appointed as a Commissioner in 2021.

Richard Turner

Commissioner

Richard Turner is Chief Executive of Bel Valves & BEL Engineering, whilst holding a number of non-executive and advisory positions in the energy sector including the Offshore Wind Growth Partnership (OWGP). Previously Richard was President and CEO of JDR Cables and member of the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC).

Prior to JDR, Richard worked for Technip Umbilical Systems, where he was Vice President of Global Manufacturing. Earlier in his career Richard worked in the construction equipment industry with Komatsu and Terex. He has a Mechanical Engineering degree and an MBA from Durham.

Richard was appointed as a Commissioner in 2021.

Management team

Martin Lawlor

Chief Executive

Martin Lawlor was appointed Chief Executive of Blyth Harbour Commission in 2006 having previously held the roles of Deputy Chief Executive and Commercial & Operations Director. In overseeing the Group, Martin also acts as Chair of BHC’s subsidiary company, Transped.

Prior to joining the Commission in 1994, Martin held various commercial management roles at the ports of Tees & Hartlepool (now PD Ports). A former Deputy Chair of the North East Chamber of Commerce (Northumberland Committee), he has held positions on a number of regional economic and strategic boards. Martin is the Chair of the British Port’s Association, a council member of Maritime UK, a non-executive Board Member of Port Skills and Safety and serves on the executive group of Subsea NE.

Martin was appointed Chief Executive and a Commissioner in 2006.

Alan Todd

Port Director

Alan joined the Port in 2004 and as Port Director is responsible for overseeing the Operations and Engineering departments, as well as assisting the Commercial team on new customer opportunities. Having qualified as a Chartered Civil Engineer, Alan previously worked for Volker Stevin as a contracts manager and Corus as a specialist advisor in the construction of quay structures around the world.

Edwin Dick

Harbour Master

Edwin joined the Ports Marine Department in 2009 as a Pilot/Assistant Harbour Master. He served in the role of Deputy Harbour Master for six years before being appointed Harbour Master in 2019. Edwin is an active member of the UK Harbour Masters Association. He is also a member of the joint British Ports Association & UK Major Ports Group Marine & Pilotage Steering Committee and the Security and Resilience Group.

Oran Robson

Finance Director

Oran joined the Port in 2016 and as Commission Secretary and Finance Director is responsible for both Finance and IT operations. Oran qualified as a chartered accountant with Ernst & Young before holding management positions at Rolls-Royce PLC and The Character Group PLC, more recently fulfilling a similar senior role at Canford Group PLC for over 16 years. Oran is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants.