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Senior management team

Meet our senior management team
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Dawn Austwick - Chief executive

As chief executive of Big Lottery Fund, Dawn has led the development of the organisation’s new strategic framework for the period between 2015 and 2021. This aims to build on the organisation’s strengths in empowering local people and communities to drive social change.

More about Dawn Austwick


Before stepping into the post, Dawn led the UK-based grant-maker Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for eight years. She is committed to positioning Big Lottery Fund as a catalyst for, and champion of, grassroots activity, not just in terms of funding but also importantly in sharing learning, data and networks.

Dawn’s earlier career was in the arts as deputy director of the British Museum and project director at Tate Modern. She is also a trustee of Historic Royal Palaces, which looks after the Tower of London and Kensington Palace. She is a companion of the Chartered Institute of Management, has an MBA from the London Business School and an honorary doctorate from London Metropolitan University.

Read more about our Strategic Framework 2015-2021

Dianne Hughes - HR director

Dianne joined Big Lottery Fund as HR director in 2009 and has overseen the shift and growth in the HR function from a back-office processes machine to an integral part of the organisation.

More about Dianne Hughes

"Our people in the lead vision does not just apply to the people and groups we want to fund, but also importantly for the people that work here. It means that we as an organisation must become more trusting of our colleagues to use their skills for the benefit of Big Lottery Fund and the delivery of its strategy. Confidence not control."

Having worked in a number of HR roles in the private sector, Dianne is leading the delivery of Big Lottery Fund’s new people strategy in line with our 2015-2021 strategic framework.

Dianne says she is excited to work in an organisation that has true purpose, creating great opportunities for the people that work here.   

Milly Camley - Director of communications and external affairs

An experienced strategy and communications consultant in the public and social sector, Milly joined the Big Lottery Fund at the beginning of 2016 to make sure our communications to all or audiences, from our applicants to stakeholders, is aligned with our grant-making strategy and principles.

More about Milly Camley

"At the heart of a great idea, from the smallest lunch clubs, to the biggest community festivals, there are people with energy, commitment and buzz - it’s amazing to be part of an organisation that helps to power those people and ideas"

Milly has held a range of director level roles, over a number of years, at the London Borough of Newham, home to the 2012 Olympic Games, including as executive director of customer relations and external affairs. Most recently, she was a director at educational charity Future First.

Danny Homan - Chief of staff

Previously director of communication and development at Historic Royal Palaces, Danny joined Big Lottery Fund in the autumn of 2014 to help create the organisation’s new strategic framework and bring our people in the lead strategy to life with colleagues across the organisation.

More about Danny Homan

"The opportunity to work with colleagues in an organisation that makes such a difference to people’s lives in the UK is hugely motivating and a real privilege."

At Historic Royal Palaces, Danny worked in a number of marketing, PR and fundraising roles. He heads up a new department called Development and Engagement, which includes policy, knowledge and learning, UK portfolio, corporate processes, communications and external relations and HR.

Danny has worked in marketing, fundraising, and development roles for organisations, including the British Film Institute, South Bank Centre and Ascot Racecourse. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a fellow of The Royal Society of Arts.

Lyn Cole - England grant-making director

Lyn has worked for the Big Lottery Fund and its predecessor bodies since September 1998 in a number of different roles, including recently leading the development of a new grant-making strategy for the Fund.

More about Lyn Cole

"The stories of the people behind the projects we fund inspire me every day. It's a real privilege to help to make a real difference, however small, to their lives and to their communities, especially during these tough times."

Lyn currently leads a directorate that looks after £450 million worth of funding commitments per year and is at the frontline of Big Lottery Fund’s vision of putting people in the lead to solve local social challenges.       

Before joining the Big Lottery Fund, Lyn managed a community project promoting social cohesion in the Silwood ward of Lewisham in the east of London. This experience was critical in shaping Lyn’s views on grant-making and her ambition to create funding strategy that works for applicants.

Joe Ferns - UK knowledge and portfolio director

Joe's team is responsible for evaluating Big Lottery Fund’s portfolio of grant programmes. This work is the bedrock of Big Lottery Fund, influencing and informing funding decisions and policy.

More about Joe Ferns

"The impact of Big Lottery funding on individuals, communities and society is enormous and sharing the knowledge and learning which is generated by local and national work is a challenge which I am looking forward to,” said Joe, who joined Big Lottery Fund from the Samaritans in 2015, where he held a number of strategic roles."

"The approach of working alongside communities and stakeholders offers a compelling new way of approaching funding and I am very excited to join a great team at an important time for Big Lottery."

Joe has also worked in research at the Institute of Psychiatry.

Beth Lawton - Technology director

Beth Lawton joined the Big Lottery Fund in January 2016 to generate efficiencies and help to deliver the Fund’s digital agenda. She has a broad range of ICT and change experience in a wide range of public sector organisations, most recently Nottingham City Homes.

More about Beth Lawton

"I am excited to be joining the Big Lottery Fund – an organisation that has such an impact at a community level – at a time when it is so focussed on development and improvement. My work with technology should both generate efficiencies and help deliver our digital agenda."

Beth has also delivered technology-enabled change at the Royal Household, the National Museums and Galleries of Wales, and the Arts Council of Wales, where she was involved in the distribution of the first Arts Council Lottery funding.

She is a trustee of Together for Mental Wellbeing, a national mental health charity.

Gemma Bull - Portfolio development director, England

Gemma joined Big Lottery Fund in October 2015 and is leading on the design, development and improvement of our England portfolio so that all the projects we fund realise our principles of putting people in the lead to best serve their local communities and neighbourhoods.

More about Gemma Bull

"The Big Lottery Fund is serious about creating opportunities for people and communities to take the lead. I am hugely excited about playing a part in supporting the organisation to learn how best to do this so that we continue to offer the most relevant support and enable the greatest impact."

Formerly managing director of enterprise and innovation at Leonard Cheshire Disability, Gemma, who has a Masters in Human Rights from the University of Sussex, has a long and successful track record in helping to drive organisations forward, including Save the Children UK. She is the trustee of a learning disability charity The Squad and co-founder of a social enterprise called EasyPeasy, an app supporting early years’ development through games.

John Rose - Wales director

John is responsible for the development, delivery, administration and communication of the Big Lottery Fund’s grant programmes in Wales and is ultimately responsible for Big Lottery Fund’s work and reputation in the country.

More about John Rose

"The projects we fund really touch the lives of the people and communities they support. I’m looking forward to helping that continue to happen, and ensuring that the lottery pound is well spent"

Leading a team of about 55 people based in offices in Cardiff and Newtown, John works closely with the Wales chair in discussing future direction and ensuring the non-executive board members are kept informed. He spends much of his time meeting with stakeholders from the public and voluntary sector and making sure Big Lottery Fund is aligned at all levels of the organisation.

John, who studied Environmental Systems and Applied Hydrobiology at the University of Wales, joined Big Lottery Fund in 2003. He meets regularly with the organisation’s senior management team and is the lead for equalities and sustainability.

Neil Ritch - Acting director for Scotland

Neil has worked in Lottery Funding for over 15 years managing programmes across a range of activities including rural development, environmental improvement and support to the voluntary sector.

More about Neil Ritch


Born and brought up in Shetland he began his career in Community Work developing community projects in everything from play and youth work to community care and economic development.

He lives in a Stirlingshire with his family enjoys running and cycling (quite slowly), playing football (really quite badly) and being outdoors or in his shed as much as possible.

Joanne McDowell - Northern Ireland director

Joanne was appointed as Big Lottery Fund's director for Northern Ireland in September 2010.

More about Joanne McDowell

"Working for the Big Lottery Fund not only offers me the chance to meet a wide range of stakeholders, but also to listen to the volunteers and the beneficiaries involved in the projects we fund. This gives me a real and valuable opportunity to understand the difference that Lottery funding makes to communities in Northern Ireland and across the UK."

As Northern Ireland (NI) director, Joanne spends most of her time meeting and listening to stakeholders, beneficiaries, VCSE representatives, government officials and elected representatives who want to know about the Big Lottery Fund’s programmes and investments. She also works with the NI chair and NI committee to deliver on programmes and strategic direction.

Before joining the Fund, Joanne lectured in European Studies and Rural Development and she worked as a consultant for a major private sector body in Northern Ireland. Joanne has a Doctorate from the University of Ulster in planning policy and legislative change in Spain.

Ian Hughes - Finance director

Finance Director for BBC News and Current Affairs prior to joining Big Lottery Fund in April 2015, Ian brings a wealth of experience to the role. He heads up finance and corporate services, which includes audit and risk, legal, IT and facilities.

More about Ian Hughes


As well as heading up our audit and risk teams, Ian, who had a number of operational roles in his tenure at the BBC, is responsible for providing an effective and safe working environment for our staff, the smooth running of our technology services across all 13 of our UK sites and supporting the organisation to better understand the financial and commercial consequences of everything we do.

He also has oversight of our procurement processes and grant contractual arrangements.