Kelvin Hall

Kelvin is a civil servant in the ‘Brexit department’ currently working to help all government departments prepare to leave the EU with ‘no deal’. This involves coordinating a range of policy and delivery projects across everything from nuclear regulation to the colour of passports.

Before he became a humble servant of Her Majesty, Kelvin worked for a financial PR company with investment management clients, and previously a retail bank.

He competed in Debating Matters for Franklin College, Grimsby, and is a keen waterpolo player, swimmer and cyclist.

Ruari Clark

After studying History at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, Ruari went to work on a dairy farm in Devon for a year. He then worked on an arable farm in the harvest before working in construction in London for six months. He has recently begun working for a financial consultancy firm.

Jonathan Werran

Jonathan was appointed as chief executive for the place-based, neo-localist think-tank Localis in July 2018 after serving as head of news and events for the organisation. He has extensive experience in public policy, communications and journalism. After five years as a reporter, commentator and features editor for leading local government trade journal The Municipal Journal (The MJ), in 2015 he became the first strategic communications officer for the District Councils’ Network – a network of 201 councils across England.

Prior to The MJ, he edited an online government property and estates magazine ‘Public Property’ and he also has a strong understanding of the voluntary and civic sector from experience working for anti-poverty charity Elizabeth Finn Care and as a trustee for disability charity The Outsiders Trust and environmental design charity Charushila. Jonathan began his career in online publishing where he established The Source Public Service Management Journal and Wired-Gov – a pioneering online news service which repurposed UK government press releases.

Declan Rooney

Declan is an intern at the Academy of Ideas, assisting at events and debates. He is passionate about travelling and music and is a football enthusiast, following Tottenham FC and Celtic.

Maddie Springett

Maddie has an inner passion for debating. Maddie was a youth councillor and also a member of Youth Parliament, actively campaigning for mental health, anti-bullying and votes at 16. One of her fondest memories was having the opportunity to debate in the House of Commons. These experiences have all brought Maddie to what she is doing now, where she is a student engagement officer at MidKent College. Maddie feels that she has a really unique role, where she gets to work with a diverse range of young people, encouraging them to get involved in activities beyond the curriculum to develop them both personally and professionally, supporting them to succeed in life. Maddie is a Princess Diana Award holder, she received this for active campaigning and has a passion for young people, ensuring that they are given every opportunity possible to change their lives.

Nigel Ruddock

Nigel is an accountant and insolvency specialist spending over 30 years helping underperforming companies to restructure and return to profitability. Latterly he specialised in the automotive sector and was a regular visitor to Detroit during the financial crisis. He was also chairman of a major UK accounting firm employing ca. 4,000 people with a revenue of about £450m. From 2010 to 2015 he was a member of the International Leadership Board of Grant Thornton International where he was responsible for developing their global advisory business as well as helping develop the member firms in Asia Pacific and Middle East. He spent a lot of time in China. During 2015/6 he was chairman of an accounting firm in Singapore which was going through a period of change. Now retired, Nigel is a trustee of SERV, a charity dedicated to helping the NHS by delivering blood, samples and platelets, by motorcycle, out of hours.

Jo Phillips

journalist, commentator and former political advisor

Jo Phillips is an award winning journalist, a former political advisor and a regular political commentator on national and international TV and radio.

She has worked across the public and private sectors in communications, strategy and crisis management, is an independent member of the Windrush Day Grants Advisory Panel, co-author of Why Vote and Why Join a Trade Union and a contributor to events, seminars and publications particularly relevant to local democracy, community engagement and media.

Cllr Vince Maple

Vince is the leader of the opposition group on Medway Council having been first elected as councillor for Chatham Central ward at the age of 29 in 2007 – he was the youngest Labour group leader in the country when he became opposition group leader in 2012.

Before focusing on local government service, Vince was a senior officer for the GMB Trade Union and also served in both the Home Office and Department for Work and Pensions.

Vince also represents the English Local Government Association on the European Local Government Association.

Vince has been at the forefront of national campaigns which have bought about change including tackling payday lenders such as Wonga and most recently Fixed Odds Betting Terminals.

Away from politics, Vince recently became a dad for the first time in July and when time allows he can be found watching Arsenal or attempting to sing at karaoke nights!

Dr Lynn Revell

Lynn Revell is a reader in religion and education at Canterbury Christ Church University where she has worked on the PGCE for Religious Education and Citizenship, and now leads the Doctorate in Education. She has worked in secondary schools as a teacher of Religious Education and for the Commission for Racial Equality. Lynn is currently involved in research on looking at the significance of extremism in education and free speech in schools and FE. She has published work on the representation of Islam in RE, and the impact of the requirement to promote ‘fundamental British values’ in schools and colleges.

Dr Jim Butcher

Jim is the author or three books and numerous papers and articles on tourism and culture, most recently ‘Volunteer Tourism: The Lifestyle Politics of International Development’ (Routledge, 2015) with Pete Smith. He has written for THES, spiked and has appeared on TV and radio commenting on the tourism industry and its critics. Jim is a defender of mass tourism and a critic of the inflated claims made for eco-alternatives. He is a member of the American Association of Geographers and the Royal Geographical Society. In his spare time, Jim follows the mighty Derby County and occasionally blogs.