Acorns Ambassadors play a key role in raising awareness of our work within the business community and help us raise the funds we need to continue providing lifeline care and support for local life limited and life threatened children and their families.

Each of Acorns Business Ambassadors joins us in a two-year partnership, adding their own voice and experience to help us raise awareness, campaign and fundraise, with each committing to raising £5,000 each year. 

We are thrilled to have some of the region’s very best in business join us as Ambassadors. Their influence, passion and expertise will help us reach even more people within the business community and grow local support, making a massive difference to the children and families that need us now and in the future. 

Angel Gaskell

Who are you?

My name is Angel Gaskell and I am the Managing Director and co-founder of an independent content marketing agency, HDY. Situated in Digbeth, Birmingham’s buzzy creative quarter, HDY has just celebrated its third birthday and is made up of 35 awesome individuals.  

When I’m not working, you can find me with my motorbike-obsessed husband and son and my cheerleader daughter. I’m passionate about being a female business owner, I support a number of LGBTQ+ initiatives and domestic abuse causes.  

Fun fact 

As you may have guessed from my name, I was born and raised in a hippie commune where my parents instilled in me conscious living, peace and inner happiness. 

Chris Smith

Who are you?

Chris is the Managing Director of the Centre for the New Midlands, founding the organisation in January 2020.  Prior to establishing the regional think tank for the West Midlands, Chris worked for 15 years in the UK Higher Education sector, with extensive experience in stakeholder engagement; fundraising and student recruitment. 

He has a deep interest in regional and national politics, as well as the impact that philanthropy can have on driving positive change.

Chris has led international award-winning teams and takes great pride in building strong and effective teams throughout his career.

Chris has previously worked within the UK’s Home Office’s Immigration and Nationality Directorate. Chris is also a former Students’ Union President and has previously worked for the Saga Group plc. 

Chris has served as a member of the NSPCC Business Board in Coventry and Warwickshire. He is an avid Tottenham Hotspur supporter and a ‘Man of Kent’ by birth but an ‘adopted’ Coventrian having lived in the city since 2003.  

LinkedIn 

Chris Woods

Who are you?

I am Chris Woods, the founder of a Global Cyber Security Business based in Birmingham, Ohio and Manila, whose work involves protecting clients data and reputations. I live in the West Midlands, originally I grew up in Smethwick but spent a number of years living in Italy and Middle East until I finally found my way home back to Birmingham in 2016. I am a massive Aston Villa fan but love all sports in general and am currently trying to convince my 2 daughters to support Aston Villa.  

Acorns has always had a special place in my heart; I can remember Aston Villa / Randy Learner sponsoring the 2008/09 season and now being in a position to help this charity means a great deal to me.  

Fun fact 

I grew up in a Pub in Alum Rock and played pool every day for 10 years – I’m still the youngest pool champion ever [age 8] to win the national Pontins Pool championship.  

LinkedIn

Emma Neale

Who are you?

Emma Neale is Associate Professor and Employability lead for Birmingham City University Business School. Emma lives in Sutton Coldfield with her husband and 17-year-old twin girls. Emma has worked in Education for 16 years but prior to teaching, worked in industry as a European Direct marketing Manager at Siemens and owned her own marketing consultancy business. Emma has been recognised for her achievements in education winning many awards and more recently being awarded, ‘I AM BCU’ Community Hero award in 2021.

“Having children myself, Acorns has always been close to my heart. I have always admired how Acorns provides a vital lifeline for families within our local community. The amazing team and volunteers go above and beyond, and the range of services Acorns offer is phenomenal. It really is inspiring to see the amazing work and support Acorns provides. I am honoured to be a Business Ambassador and I look forward to supporting Acorns and further enhancing the fantastic work they do.” 

Fun fact 

I have been on TV four times, appearing in 1990’s daytime TV shows, ‘ Style Challenge’ and ‘Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook’, ‘A Date with Fate’ and an educational programme about non-smoking called ‘Love your Lungs’ – unfortunately my TV career was short lived but really fun! 

LinkedIn

Gary Fulford

Who are you?

I am Gary Fulford and I am the Group Chief Executive of whg, one of the largest (and more importantly, the best!) housing providers in the West Midlands.  I have over 35 years’ experience of working in the housing sector in the Midlands and the South West.  whg is a registered charity and we pride ourselves on going the extra mile for our customers and communities. I am proud of whg’s charity fundraising efforts, having successfully raised tens of thousands of pounds for good causes through various fundraising events in recent years.  

I grew up in the West Midlands and enjoy playing and watching football.  Although I support Wolverhampton Wanderers, I do have a soft spot for Walsall Football Club.  During the pandemic I purchased a motor home so that I can fulfil my love of travelling throughout the UK and abroad with my family.  

Fun fact 

I moved to a new house during the pandemic and realised that I was the proud owner of over 70 ties.  Given that I haven’t worn a tie for work in the last 10 years, I figured that it was time for a clear out!  (Next I might tackle the sock drawer!) 

LinkedIn

Giles Rowley

Who are you?

Giles Rowley is the Brand Director for Rybrook Specialist Cars and has worked in the Motor Trade for over 30 years.    

Giles said: “I believe in making a positive difference so could not be more proud to be associated with such a deserving and worthy cause as Acorns Children’s Hospice.”  

Fun fact 

I am a big James Blunt fan 

Jamil Shabir

Who are you?

Jamil Shabir is the CEO of Bootcamp Media – a digital marketing agency based in the heart of Birmingham City Centre.

Brought up in Balsall Heath, Jamil’s journey to become one of Birmingham’s most respected businesspeople is nothing short of inspiring.

Jamil created Bootcamp Media with two goals. Firstly, he wanted to build a digital marketing agency capable of serving the diverse range of businesses that can be found in Birmingham by offering web design, marketing consultancy and content marketing services.

Secondly, he wanted to create a business that mixed his entrepreneurial spirit with his desire to give something back to the community.

That’s what makes Jamil and his company’s ethos so refreshing and, in a world where profit is often put before purpose, unique. 

Jamil describes himself as a “single-minded individual”, and that drive to achieve everything he sets out both commercially and personally is evident from the moment you meet him. His love for charities including Acorns, for instance, is infectious and has spawned a number of annual events in and around Birmingham that bring together the area’s business elite for some amazing causes. 

Working regularly with Acorns Children’s, Jamil has a strong desire to mix his commercial endeavours with causes that are close to his heart.

Bootcamp Media’s range of services are all centred around a similarly single-minded desire to offer fresh-thinking, creative digital marketing to businesses across the UK.

Established in 2012, Bootcamp Media has grown from Jamil’s initial small agency to a bustling in-house team of marketing experts. Their dedication to helping companies market themselves in the best way possible has earned them several awards and plenty of recognition in Birmingham. 

Put simply, if you want to mix business with a community-focused company, Jamil and the team at Bootcamp Media will be the perfect fit. 

Fun fact

I’m a huge Sci Fi Fan I love anything to do with Star Trek  Star Wars and especially anything to do with Time Travel so think Back to the Future, Bill & Ted and Hot tub Time machine and everything in between. Oh and I love Theme Parks. Basically I’m just a big kid. 

LinkedIn

John Loveday

Who are you?

I am John Loveday and I am the Founder of Toppa and Study Academy, two online education businesses based in Birmingham. I grew up in Smith’s Wood Castle Bromwich as a young boy before joining the armed forces aged 16. On leaving the military I worked in various roles prior to setting up my first business. I am a Mentor for other Entrepreneurs and work with various military charities and organisations to support veterans in need. My passion is helping others and I look forward to supporting Acorns Children’s Hospice in any way that I can.  

Fun fact 

Before launching my businesses, I worked as a street magician, Bodyguard, Professional Boxer and also a Private Investigator.  

LinkedIn

Johnathan Dudley

Who are you?

Chartered Accountant Johnathan Dudley is Managing Partner of Crowe’s Midlands and South West region and National Head of Manufacturing Business. On becoming a Business Ambassador, he said: “We spend too much time in life bemoaning what isn’t good in society or our lives when really we are so lucky. What Acorns does is give some positivity and smiles to people so much less fortunate than we are.”  

Fun fact 

Johnathan loves Led Zeppelin and has ‘Whole Lotta Love’ as his ringtone  

LinkedIn

Kirsty Davies-Chinnock

Who are you?

Kirsty Davies-Chinnock is the MD of Professional Polishing Services Ltd which mechanically polishes stainless steel for a variety of industries including architectural projects such as Grand Central. Kirsty is originally from Birmingham but moved further out to the Staffordshire border where she lives with her husband and two Labradors. Kirsty is also the Director and Chair of the British Stainless-Steel Association, A Director for Art Business Loans which is a Community Development Finance Institution, a Non-Executive Director for TAG Network West Midlands and a Trustee for Birmingham Roller Derby.  

“After one of my colleagues recently lost his daughter after a long illness and I wanted to do more to help families in the West Midlands who have children who need additional support. Acorns provide so much to our local families that I am honored to become an Ambassador.”  

Fun fact 

In my early 20’s I used to play bass guitar in a rock band.  

LinkedIn

KJ Clarke

Who are you?

I’m Katie-Jo (KJ), I am the Sales Executive for Downtown in Business and look after Birmingham and surrounding areas. I’ve worked in retail management for most of my working life but have ventured into Hospitality, but the last few years have been in Sales and Events in the city – my favourite career by far!  

Fun fact 

Whenever someone asks me a fun fact about myself, I never know what to say?! I suppose being born 10 weeks early weighing just 2lbs is impressive though right?

LinkedIn 

Matt Jones

Who are you?

Matt Jones is the Founder and MD of Oxbridge, the online college. A Birmingham-based EdTech entrepreneur, NED, angel investor, and charity ambassador, Matt has bootstrapped several multi-million GBP revenue industry-leading organisations. His hobbies include travel, learning to fly and recording music. 

He said: “Acorns Children’s Hospice is the most incredible charity. You only need to spend a short amount of time in one of their hospices to realise this. What particularly strikes me is how cheerful everyone is; in tough circumstances, it’s a place of joy and smiles. I admire how Acorns generously supports both service users and their wider families at such difficult times.” 

Fun fact 

I was (unbelievably) a quiet child, so my parents sent me to drama school.  I’ve been on stage with Lionel Blair at the Hippodrome and then moved on to work in concert lighting at many major events. I have had two altercations with the same A-list celebrity, now my arch-nemesis; once when they were making their backup dancers cry and once when their limo was blocking my drive (long story). 

LinkedIn

Petro Nicolaides

Who are you?

Petro Nicolaides is the CEO of The f-t Group, a national commercial services business based in Solihull. He was born, bred, educated and works in the West Midlands. Petro describes Acorns as the ‘jewel in the crown of the West Midlands, representing everything great about our region’. Adding: “Acorns will always hold a very special place in my heart as it took care of my beautiful Godson Alexis. What they did (and continue to do) for him and our family is immeasurable, and something that we will always hold dear.”  

Fun fact 

My first business was at the age of 13, running a burger kiosk for the children of the Greek School.  

LinkedIn

Phil Oldershaw

Who are you?

Birmingham Entrepreneur, Personality and Hospitality Operator Phil Oldershaw has been a familiar face in the business community for over 30 years, specialising in events management, stage, screen and online presenting, PR and brand development. He said: “Acorns is a selfless charity that ensures this children’s hospice care never stops while also offering respite for families. I wanted to be a part of something so heartfelt.”  

Fun fact 

I Co-Founded Birmingham Pride in 1996, launching the first in 1997, which I worked with for 14 years! 

LinkedIn

Stewart Ward

Who are you?

Stewart Ward is the Business Development Director for Santander Corporate and Commercial Banking in the West Midlands. Stewart grew up in Worcestershire before moving to London at 21 to begin a career in Banking.  

He said: “The role that the charity undertakes is one that has always found a place in my heart. Acorns ability to support families at times of such need, coupled with the work they undertake is literally life changing for so many, I couldn’t think of not wanting to be part of such an amazing charitable organisation.”    

Fun fact 

I have had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with the late Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, King Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry – all of which were great experiences.  

LinkedIn

Yiannis Maos

Who are you?

Yiannis Maos is the Founder and CEO of Birmingham Tech CIC, a community initiative designed to inspire the next generation, help businesses ScaleUp, and create an environment where people can collaborate and celebrate success.  

Yiannis said: “Upon hearing about Acorns, I was immediately in awe of the incredible and amazing work they do to support families whose child have been diagnosed with a life limiting or life threatening condition.”  

Fun fact 

I’m a keen amateur chef and love cooking up new recipes.  

LinkedIn

By joining the Acorns Business Club, you will be helping us to provide a vital lifeline for families so that we can be there, when they need us most.

Find out more and sign up