Our Board

Diane Morton

Diane Morton

Chair & Charity Director

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Alison Hall

Alison Hall

Director & Company Secretary

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Suzanne Tait

Suzanne Tait

Finance Director & Treasurer

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Doug Morton

Doug Morton

Risk Director

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Charlotte Nichols

Charlotte Nichols

PR & Marketing Director

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Sophie Pickup

Sophie Pickup

Trustee Director

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Leigh Thompson

Leigh Thompson

Trustee Director

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Richard Blackett

Richard Blackett

Member

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David Hall

David Hall

Member

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Diane Morton

After 28 years in consulting and water utility businesses, I retired early in 2010 from my role as Group HR Director at Northumbrian Water Group to spend more time with my family.

My greatest focus at work was in the areas of  people strategy, leadership and management, occupational health and employee engagement; my MA dissertation considered organisational values. I also served as a Member of the Employment Tribunal Service in the North East and Cumbria hearing employment cases as part of a judicial team of 3.

My husband Doug and I volunteered for many years as part of Northumbrian Water’s “Just an Hour” volunteering scheme with our first collie “Bob”.  We saw first hand the benefits that visiting dog teams bring to people who are no longer able to have their own dogs. We spent 2 hours on a Sunday most weeks making new friends, hearing fascinating stories and watching Bob enjoy lots of cuddles and treats.

I love dogs and have been lucky enough to have always had a dog in my family.  We live in Northumberland with Rufus our black labrador, a rehomed guide dog and Phoebe our tri-colour collie.

I know how much I would personally miss the company of a dog and so I am really delighted to lead the development of Wag & Company bringing visiting dog teams to older people across the North East.

Alison Hall

I am a solicitor working for Hay & Kilner in Newcastle. My work involves advising clients on their Wills, Powers of Attorney and estate planning. I am therefore often visiting elderly clients either at home or in a Care facility. I sometimes visit clients who clearly do not have many people calling in to see them. I therefore see first hand how lonely some of our elderly men and women can be.

I grew up in North Yorkshire and throughout secondary school I worked in a residential home. It was a privately owned home which only housed 13 residents. These residents were very well cared for by the lovely lady Margaret who owned the home and her family and staff. The residents were often taken on outings and had lots of stimulation through visitors and activities. Looking back I can see what a huge difference this made to not only their mental but also physical well being.

I visited with my Bernese Mountain Dog called Willow. Willow was an absolute delight, very easy going and placid and loved meeting people. I was often stopped in the street by people who wanted to stroke Willow (she had a very special,friendly face!).

I have known Diane and Doug for a number of years and when Diane mentioned the idea of creating Wag & Company, I was keen to get involved. I know how much joy Willow brings to people who meet her and I see the need through my work for friendships to be forged with elderly people. What a perfect idea to use our lovely pets to bridge the gap! I wanted to help with the set up of Wag & Company but was also very keen to take Willow out to meet people.

I also have 2 cats – however whilst they are my lovely furry companions I know they would want ‘ paying’ to visit people! Cats don’t do anything for nothing! Willow on the other hand will do anything for a fuss and some attention (and a biscuit if you happen to have one!)

Suzanne Tait

I am a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and I am the Finance Director at Blackett Walker and BW Medical Accountants.

My career in finance began in 1995 when I joined a Durham accountancy practice as a trainee auditor and since then I’ve worked in a number of local firms advising owner managed business on their accounting systems and controls. I qualified in 2004 leaving Baker Tilly Chartered Accountants to join what is now Blackett Walker as their Financial Controller.

Wag & Company is the brainchild of Diane Morton and is a fantastic charity, there is nothing else like it in the area and I am delighted To be part of the team.

In my free time I enjoy running marathons and taking part in triathlon and am always keen to support charitable activities having previously been a trustee and treasurer for a charity supporting grass roots athletics in Sedgefield.

Doug Morton

My career began in 1976 as an engineering apprentice in the public sector.  After qualifying I  worked in maintenance management and studied environmental engineering at the University of Strathclyde.  After graduation I worked on major construction projects as a project and design manager moving in 1986 to the private sector;  after 25 years in  design and consulting businesses, I retired early in 2011 when we sold our engineering and environmental consulting business, Entec UK Limited, head office in Gosforth, where I was the Commercial Director.

As Commercial Director in a professional services business I was responsible for developing the internal systems for risk management.  We also offered corporate and project risk services to our customers and I was responsible for staff training in this area.  So risk together with business strategy and management, procurement, contract management and report writing were all key areas of focus for me.   I’m excited to be involved in supporting the development of Wag and Company wherever I can.

Diane and I have been lucky enough to share our dogs with some great people.  We volunteered for many years with “Bob” in a residential home in Northumberland, we also spent a great deal of time more latterly with my father-in-law who suffered from vascular dementia;  when John didn’t know who we were,  he knew our labrador “Harry” by name and instinctively understood what to do when a silky head landed in his lap.

Wag & Company is simply about enabling these important relationships and with support from our partners, we’re in a good position to be able to make a real difference in our community.

Charlotte Nichols

I have been running my PR & Marketing business, Harvey & Hugo Limited since 2009.  Named after my two border terriers, we generate desire for our clients’ brands by using the latest digital trends including social media, content marketing as well as traditional PR strategies.

The role of PR & Marketing Director for Wag & Company allows me to combine my professional skills and love of dogs to help a cause close to my heart.  My Gran suffered from dementia and passed away very recently in a nursing home.  She had always lived with dogs and I could see the joy it gave her when I was able to take the terriers to see her.

It breaks my heart to think of lonely older people out there missing the love and company of dogs and I’m delighted to be on board to help raise awareness of this wonderful charity.

Sophie Pickup

I’ve worked for Northumbrian Water Group since 2002, and my current role is Learning & Development Manager.  I’m a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and have a Politics degree from Newcastle University.

If you live in the North East you’ll be a customer, whatever your age, background and circumstances.  As well as having the privilege of influencing our employees’ experience of work, improving their skills, knowledge and potentially their prospects, I’m responsible for raising everyone’s awareness that we should value everyone as an individual. I really love the fact that Wag and Company is about valuing people and improving lives.

There are several reasons why I wanted to get involved with Wag and Company, the key ones are:

  1. it is such a great concept and opportunity to make a real difference
  2. I worked with both Diane and Doug Morton for many years I know that with their leadership, energy and passion, we will achieve what we set out to achieve
  3. I’ve always loved having dogs around. We currently have an exuberant young labrador, Indie who brings such affection and activity into our lives, I can imagine what a hole there must be if you no longer have the company of a dog when you’ve had it for many years; so how could I miss the opportunity to do something about it?

Leigh Thompson

With over 22 years’ experience with Sage, a leading FTSE 100 company, and 13 years’ in corporate philanthropy roles I’ve successfully developed and executed several long-term strategies and change programmes.  During my role as Interim Global Director for Sage Foundation, I was responsible for setting up and implementing a charitable foundation that spans 24 countries, ensuring robust infrastructure and governance while managing a wide range of local, national and global stakeholders.  I was also responsible for identifying key strategic partners and driving high levels of employee, customer and community engagement.

Having learnt so much during my career at Sage I decided it was time to see what I could offer the outside world.  I’m currently in the process of setting up my own consultancy business with the aim of supporting socially minded business leaders to embed social purpose into the heart of their organisation.

Being part of the Board for Wag & Company is something I’m extremely passionate about.  I was lucky enough to be brought up with dogs as pets, but even better than that, I got to see the absolute joy and pleasure having a dog brought to my grandad – even after he was diagnosed with Dementia.  Such a cruel illness that has a huge impact on the entire family;   ‘man’s best friend’ can bring a ray of sunshine at an otherwise dark time.  And that’s what I love about Wag & Company – they do this for many elderly people who, for whatever reason, find themselves isolated and lonely.

Richard Blackett

I have worked in the financial planning industry since I left University with a BSc (Hons) in Agricultural Food and Marketing in the late 1980’s. I am a Director of Blackett Walker, which is one of the leading financial planning businesses in the North East and BW Medical Accountants which provides financial advice to medical professionals.

I live in rural Northumberland with a family farming background which I continue to enjoy. I’ve been brought up with all manner of animals including dogs from Collies to Lakelands and Dobermans and more latterly a Dandie Dinmont called Pepper.

As man’s best friend, bringing dogs into contact with the elderly and isolated will provide great comfort to many in our region so I’m really pleased to be involved with helping Wag & Company to thrive and to be well supported by the wider community.

David Hall

Head of Leisure, Strategy and Transformation at Northumbrian Water Group (NWG), I have an Honours Degree in Civil Engineering, a Masters Degree in Leadership & Management and I am a Member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

I have wide range of experience in public affairs, marketing, communications, stakeholder engagement, commercial start-ups, business development and a proven track record in achieving substantial improvements in P&L.

I have enjoyed a pretty diverse career with NWG, alongside my day job I am currently Chair and Non Executive Director of Northumberland Tourism, Non Executive Director of Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust, Chair of Governors at the Blyth Academy and Horton Grange Primary School, National Leader of Governance with the Department for Education and Chair of the One Awards.

I am deeply passionate about the North East of England and contributing to changing the prospects of communities, families and individuals, through improving education, tourism and reducing loneliness in the elderly.

We’ve had dogs in the family for many years and I know what a positive impact they’ve had on me. I’ve got involved with Wag and Company to help it achieve real success, so that as many people as possible can experience the comfort and pleasure a dog, and its owner, can bring into their lives.