Our People


Chief Officer

Brenda TurnballBrenda Turnbull
Brenda has worked in property development in both the public and private sectors and in urban and rural regeneration for many years. With a keen interest in community planning she has steered the Trust towards the development of a more community focused delivery of the programme to reopen the Lagan Navigation.

Project Sponsor

Maire Gaffney

  • The ‘Just Add Water’ project which will see the delivery of a Community Heritage Audit of the 27 mile Lagan Navigation and development of a digital platform to collect, digitise and make available the history of the Navigation over the past 300 years.
  • The Trust Funding and Investment Strategy development with specialist consultants
  • The launch of The Waterways College (TWC), a Community Investment Company which was grown from the charitable objectives of the Trust to involve and inform local communities of the value and benefits of re-opening this waterway. TWC will develop, for project based learning and programmes for volunteering, educational and community outreach on waterways – anywhere. TWC has already gained interest and support from Wales, Scotland and the South of Ireland to roll out its unique way of upskilling unemployed people of all ages and education providers from nursery to University. Of course TWC needs many partners to do this and we are well on the way with over 20 organisations showing interest locally to Norther Ireland alone.


The Board

The Board membership represents a wide range of interests, from local residents and Lagan Navigation users to those with a business in the Trust Operational Area. The six Public Directors hold the portfolios on the Board for Natural Heritage, Community and User Groups, Engineering and Cost Management, Farming and Landholding and Tourism and Business.

The Chair

Erskine Holmes OBE
A graduate of Queen’s University, Erskine started out as a history teacher. Now a ‘fulltime’ volunteer’, Erskine officially retired at 60 after more than 25 years as Chief Executive of the Federation of Housing Associations. Erskine has helped to set up the NI Assembly All Party Co-operative Group which has met to discuss Energy Co-operatives and Co-operative Housing. They now have the active support of at least one MLA from each party. Erskine has a special interest in Co-operative Housing and set up the NI Co-ownership Society which has helped 30,000 first time buyers into home ownership. He was also a founding director of the not for profit Ulster Community Investment Trust which has made over £30m in loans to community enterprises.

The Vice Chair

Brian Cassells OBE
Brian Cassells has been a member of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland for 25 years and is a past President. The retired Headmaster co-coordinated the Northern Ireland Branches of IWAI for the last 15 years and served as Chairman of the Lough Erne branch for a similar period. As an avid local historian and waterway enthusiast, Brian has researched and written widely on the inland navigations of Northern Ireland and on other aspects of local history.

Observers on the Board:

• NIEA Built Heritage
• NIEA Natural Heritage
• Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland
• Inland Waterways Ireland
• Craigavon Council
• Lisburn City Council
• Castlereagh Council
• Belfast City Council

Public Directors

  • Mike Clarke
  • James Turner
  • Joe Nelson – Natural Heritage
  • Dominic Lavery – Engineering and Cost management
  • Wilson Steen – Farming and Landholding
  • Vacant – Tourism and Business
  • Professor Alan Woodside – Built Heritage
  • Wesley Henderson – Community and User Groups