Meet the team

Sara Thakkar

Sara Thakkar
Chief Executive

Sara joined Colne as Chief Executive in February 2015. She has worked in housing for most of her career. Sara has previously held chief executive roles at Wandle and Rosebery Housing Associations.

She has been Chair at a range of organisations including TPAS, the Local Strategic Partnership in Surrey and the London Committee for National Housing Federation.

She is currently Chair of the Board of Eastern Procurement.

Follow me on twitter here.

Email Sara Thakkar
Paul Wallwork

Paul Wallwork
Interim Finance Director

Interim Finance Director Paul Wallwork plays a pivotal role in ensuring that Colne’s financial strength is maintained and improved. He is in charge of our Finance and IT teams. 

His commercial background as well as Housing Asscoaition experience very much plays to our approach of commercial head and social heart. 

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Helen Gregory

Helen Gregory
Operations Director

Helen has oversight of our Housing and Asset Services Teams, ensuring we deliver the best services we can to our customers.

She has worked in social housing for over 20 years and is experienced in all aspects of customer services, housing management, performance management, resident involvement, project management and managing change.

She is up to date with best practice and believes in involving Colne’s people and customers in service reviews. Previously she has led projects at Guildford Borough Council and Brentwood Borough Council.

Email Helen Gregory

Non Executive Team

  • Hattie Llewelyn-Davies

    Hattie Llewelyn-Davies


    Hattie Llewelyn-Davies is well known in the housing sector and was awarded an OBE for services to homeless people in 2004. A highly-experienced Chair and Non-Executive Director, she  joined Colne in September 2017.  

    Hattie started her career working with homeless people sleeping rough and firmly believes everyone has a right to have a home. She has been Chair of Viridian Housing Group and is Chair of Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust.

  • Malcom O’Brien

    Malcom O’Brien

    Vice Chair

    Malcolm is the Executive Director of People and Communications for Swan Housing. He brings 20 years experience in HR and ten years in the housing sector to the Board.

    Malcolm also has significant experience in leading business and cultural change by selling ideas, motivating and influencing senior colleagues, board members, staff and trade unions. Malcolm sits on the Appointments and Remuneration Committee.

  • Alan Collard

    Alan Collard

    Board member

    Alan joined the board in 2014. He comes from a banking and finance background, having worked most recently as Managing Director of JP Morgan Chase and Head of the Institutional Banking Group, Europe, Middle East and Asia.

    He is now a self-employed consultant, parish councillor and treasurer of a community benefit company. Alan is Chair of Colne's Audit Committee and is our Board Champion for finance and treasury management.

  • Alison Inman

    Alison Inman

    Board member

    Alison Inman is a prominent member of the affordable housing community. She is a Vice President of the CiH, the professional body for housing.

    She is also  Vice Chair of TPAS, the tenant engagement experts, and was previously Chair of Colchester Borough Homes. Alison is a magistrate a school governor and a prolific and inluential Tweeter. She sits on the Audit Committee and is our Board Champion for housing management.

  • Phil Purkiss

    Phil Purkiss

    Board member

    Phil joined the Board in 2016.

    An Associate Director for pod LLP, Phil brings a wealth of experience in developing and maintaining financial viability and other excel based models, financial modelling, undertaking options appraisals, new business and project management, co-ordinating bids, research and report writing to Colne's Board. management.

  • Kate Thurman

    Kate Thurman

    Board member

    Kate, who joined the Board in 2016, is a self-employed consultant and has over 30 years' experience in banking, finance and asset management. She has held senior positions in four financial services businesses, playing a key role in setting strategy and assessing and managing risk.

    Kate brings very well-developed analytical and finance skills to the Board and is passionate about promoting growth in affordable housing.

    Kate sits on the Audit Committee.

  • Julia Thomas

    Julia Thomas

    Board member

    Julia is a solicitor who has worked in private practice, the not for profit sector and local government.  She now works for Ofsted as an advisory lawyer, specialising in education law and public law. She has been a governor at a local secondary school for more than 20 years and is an active member of her local church. She joined the Board in 2016.