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Our Trustees


Philip Deeks (Chair)

The Welbeloved Club is not just Jo’s marvellous idea.  She puts in a tremendous effort every week, along with her mother, Gill, to make the Club a reality and great experience for all the volunteers and members.  I was humbled to be asked to be the Chair, and I could only say yes.


After school in Hertfordshire, university in Exeter and a year teaching in France, I trained as an accountant in London, including a spell in the tax department, before working for a German bank then an Australian bank, doing business in various countries in Europe as well as Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and America.


Leaving all of that behind me just over 10 years ago, I set up my own business helping people to raise funding for their renewable energy businesses in the UK, then decided to set up one myself that is still keeping me busy in 2021.

Hopefully I am deploying some of the skills I’ve learned over the years. As well as my knowledge of accounting, tax, law, fund raising and financial propriety, I have become very familiar with the workings of organisations large and small and working with people in good and bad times.


I have served on a lot of committees and boards, and take my duties seriously whether as a director or trustee … or Chair!  I can say without hesitation that all of the trustees fulfil their roles as trustees with great responsibility and diligence. Each brings different and important attributes to the Club, and wants to do their best for the Club’s volunteers and its members.


Gill Gill

Jo Sydes, the founder of the club, is my daughter. When she came to me with her idea of a Sunday lunch club for older people living alone I thought what a wonderful idea. Jo wanted to name the club after my darling Grandma Doris Welbeloved, as she was very well known for making cakes and other morsels for the older residents in her block of flats (she was in her 80s at the time!), but had spent her final years feeling somewhat isolated as a result of a stroke that made her unable to speak or walk.


She asked if I would help with the catering as I have experience cooking for large numbers in a day centre setting. Of course I said yes, and the seed was planted.


Some years on the club has grown into a fully fledged charity with an ever-growing client base. The feedback I receive from our guests is quite overwhelming at times. They simply love the concept, the food, the atmosphere but more importantly the company.


I was honoured to be asked to be a trustee and hope my experience of running my own businesses over the years will bring some financial and operational insight to the board.


Kat Pulford

When I heard about The Welbeloved Club in Sawbridgeworth I thought what a wonderful idea! As my Mum was widowed a number of years ago, I’m very aware of how lonely it can be especially on a Sundays for the elderly within our local community.

As I work with Jo, I thought I’d pop along and help volunteer at one of the Sunday lunches. I was so impressed with all the wonderful dedicated volunteers and seeing the members having such a lovely time together and enjoying the wonderful hot lunches. Sadly due to family sporting schedules I’m not able to volunteer as often as I’d like, so I was  thrilled to be asked by Jo to become a trustee.

My 26 year career in a fast competitive retail environment from buying, marketing, brand management and people management in the UK and overseas brings a wealth of experience. In my current role as a Community Fundraising Manager, I understand how important it is to have clear policies, guidelines, H&S, event management, financial growth and most if all an understanding of our local community. I’m also a volunteer for the RDA (riding for the disabled) so I really understand the importance of volunteers.  

I hope to use my experience to help grow the club over the coming years.


I have been involved with The Welbeloved Club since the start as my father was one of the first to attend. I started to help at the lunches as I was dropping him off and picking him up so it made sense to stay, but it soon became a pleasure to see all the same faces each month and something that I looked forward to. 


When Jo approached me to be a trustee, I didn’t hesitate – the experience that I bring to The Welbeloved Club is through being a Manager and a Trustee of a Charity Pre-School for 20 years.  I am able to transfer lots of the information that I have learnt over the years through the Pre-School into The Welbeloved Club such as Charity requirements, risk assessments, GDPR, fund raising, grant applications etc., and alongside all the other Trustees that have understanding of these areas and more, we are able to pool our knowledge and experiences to support Jo to continue to grow The Welbeloved Club, which is such an important lifeline for so many people in our community. 

I also serve as the administration coordinator as a volunteer for the club, so I get to meet all of our members and volunteers as they join us!


I went to school in Surrey, then did a Modern languages degree at St Johns College Oxford, 1964-7 (German and French).

I have more than 30 years’ experience in international educational publishing: as a lexicographer at Harrap (German-English dictionary), editor at the Open University; commissioning editor/publisher/publishing manager for Longman (Africa and the Caribbean and Arab World Divisions, including working for Longman Nigeria in Lagos and Longman Group Far East in Hong Kong) and Cassell (school and higher education, hospitality management textbooks), and as a textbook consultant in Nepal, Uzbekistan. Maldives and Kosovo.

I have 18 years’ international education consultancy and project proposal writing experience (1996-2014) working for Cambridge Education, and as a freelance consultant, in Nepal, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Maldives, Vietnam,  Kosovo and Georgia, including as Team Leader/Deputy Team Leader on projects in Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Kosovo and the Maldives.

I was a Town councillor from May 2015 to July 2022 and was the ‘Champion’ for schools and young people and for footpaths and open spaces. I’m now actively involved in hosting, supporting and fundraising for our Ukrainian guests, current Chairman of the Town Twinning Association, Co-Chair of the Local History Society,  an active Sustainable Sawbridgeworth and Bishop’s Stortford Climate Change Group member, a member of the Sports Association executive committee and former Cricket Club player and current Vice President, currently also a BS Rugby Club Vice President and Fourth Official for home matches.

Formerly a BS Rotary Club President and member, school governor at both Mandeville and Reedings (as well as the BS High School, twice, and Thorley Hill), former Chair of the BS Educational Trust (until 2020). 

I heard about the Welbeloved Club a while ago and had a connection through a lady I befriended during Covid. It does such a fantastic job that I wanted to help in any way I could.

David Royle

Jean Palfreman

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