Kate Willard OBE has today (11 March) been appointed the new chair of two boards overseeing the running of Teesside Airport, taking up the reins from outgoing chair David Soley.
Kate will chair the Board of Directors of Teesside International Airport Limited and also the Board of Directors of its holding company, Goosepool (2019) Limited, following the end of David’s term in the role.
As an independent consultant working on a number of diverse infrastructure and growth projects, she has played an ongoing role in the development of the airport since it was taken into public ownership. She sits on the board of trustees for the Airport Foundation charitable trust and also co-chairs the independent Teesworks Heritage Taskforce which examined how to best capture and celebrate the history of the former Redcar steelworks site.
Elsewhere Kate is the Government-appointed Thames Estuary Envoy, and the Chair of the Thames Estuary Growth Board which is driving ambitious plans to transform the region, which comprises North Kent, South Essex and East London.
David’s time as chair has seen him use his experience and knowledge to deliver transformational change in the face of enormous challenges, including the transfer of the airport into public ownership and ensuring its success in the face of the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The appointment was made by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and the Combined Authority Cabinet at today’s Cabinet meeting.
Kate Willard OBE said: “I’m really delighted to be appointed chair at an absolutely critical time in our airport’s story. With global pandemic restrictions all but gone and work to secure commercial projects on the site well under way, we’re now in a position to get our airport flying like never before – and I want to say a big thanks to David for helping to get us here.
“I’m especially excited because of the work being carried out at the airport, and right across the Tees Valley, on the potential for hydrogen as an alternative fuel source. That’s one of the items high on the agenda for the Thames Estuary too, so I’m looking forward to cementing the already strong relationship between the two areas to drive these schemes forward.
“I understand the great passion people have in for their local history, organisations and businesses and Teesside Airport is another outfit which inspires great loyalty. It’s brilliant to be playing a small part in driving this forward.”
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “On behalf of myself, the Combined Authority Cabinet and everyone at the airport, I’d like to congratulate Kate and welcome her even more closely into the fold. I’d also like to thank David Soley for the tireless dedication and hard work he brought to the role.
“Bringing an airport back into public ownership is no easy task and then to be hit with the pandemic just as we’re making headway was a huge blow but it’s a testament to David’s resilience and expertise that we are now in a very strong position.
“Kate is equally as passionate about seeing our airport succeed and she’s no stranger to our airport’s operations or Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool as a whole. Her experience and drive will make her a brilliant fit as we enter the next phase of transformation and redevelopment.”