About Us - Board Members

Board Members

    • Paul Dinsmore
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    Paul Dinsmore has over 20 years’ experience of working and volunteering in the voluntary sector.  He is currently Regional Manager with Volunteer Now responsible for the operational management of the organisation across the North-east.  Paul has been involved in voluntary work for a number of years - previously with Coleraine PHAB club and Speechmatters - and currently with Antrim Youth Information and Counselling Centre.  He was involved in the setting up of South Antrim Rural Network (now South Antrim Community Network) and spent almost ten years with the organisation, many of which as Chair of the Network.  It was through this involvement with SARN that enabled him to increase his understanding of rural issues and led to his involvement with Rural Community Network, joining the Board in December 2003. He was Chair of RCN from October 2009 - 2012 and again from November 2016 to March 2019.

    • Raymond Craig
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    Raymond Craig has been involved in rural community development for over 10 years and has been on the Rural Community Network Board for 6 of those years.  He has also contributed to collaborative working particularly in early years, primary and post primary education and has a deep understanding into the vital role of schools within rural communities.  As an advocate of the community planning process, he feels it is important to develop positive partnerships in order to create a future that enhances the quality of life for all within rural communities.  In his role as Adult Community Education Officer with North West Regional College he has been proactive in assisting rural community groups to become learning venues delivering a range of subjects including ICT.  This ensures that students are offered door step learning opportunities regardless of where they live.  He also has a keen interest in Third World Politics, debating and social inclusion issues.

    • Fergus Cooper
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    Fergus Cooper represents Co Down as the community representative on the Board

    Fergus Cooper OBE is a management consultant with Linen Green Marketing and lives in rural south Down. The former Head of Country of Save the Children, he chaired the Child Poverty Alliance in Northern Ireland from 2010-2013. He has worked in the public, private and third sectors, with over 20 years experience as a senior manager. He particularly enjoys working with young people, having begun his career with Children’s Community Holidays before joining the BELB youth service.

    In 1994 Fergus represented NIACRO at a peace conference in Gernika, that motivated his interest in peace and reconciliation work. In 1996 he established Cooper-Keaney Communications, a marketing communications consultancy that included a number of funders of the peace process as key accounts. Fergus has delivered specialist peace communications training in Croatia and Austria and participated in a number of conferences in Basque Spain.

    From 2012-16 he was a member of the Joint Forum between government and the community-voluntary sector. He is a member of CO3’s interim Chief Executives’ panel providing specialist advice and support to the boards of registered charities.

    In his spare time he coaches hurling and has managed Leitrim, Queen’s University and the Down minors.

    • Arnold Hatch
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    Arnold is currently VICE President of NI Local Government association and past Mayor and deputy Mayor of Craigavon Borough Council representing the DEA of Portadown and elected in May 2014 to the new ABC council. He was nominated by TADA Rural Support Network to RCN. He is currently the alternate member on the NAT committee (COR) in Brussels and Board member on several voluntary bodies including East Border Region, Portadown 2000 and Lough Neagh Partnership.  Arnold is currently a member of the EU Consultative Panel and Vice chair of ABC Council’s Planning Committee.

    • Patsy O'Hanlon
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    Patsy has been active in community development since 1991 when he worked towards the foundation of Middletown & District Dev Assoc and was involved with RoSA from 1992 until 2006, where he was a Board member.   He has served on RCN Board for many years and was also on the South Armagh Tourism Initiative and a member of the Cross Border IT project and the cross border Development of Infrastructure People’s Programme involving 4 halls in the North and 4 in the South. He represents Middletown on the Community Forum of NIHE and also the Ulster Canal.  Patsy enjoys sports and supports his local sports club and all activities in the Middletown and district locally. He is presently Secretary of Middletown & District Dev Assoc and has always shown a great commitment to community development throughout Armagh and Monaghan. Patsy’s greatest asset is his willingness to gather and disseminate information to ensure the spread of ideas and encourage local and regional networking.

    • John Waddell - Chair
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    John has been involved in local rural community development for the last 15 years. He is a founding member of the Poyntzpass Community Regeneration Company Limited and currently holds the position of Secretary. He has been active in a number of projects which have led to the physical regeneration of the village. John is Chair of the Armagh Villages Forum, a partnership of 13 villages in Armagh, which has been successful in delivering village improvement projects through the Rural Development Programme. He has a keen interest in the social and economic regeneration of rural areas through the development of social enterprise at a local and regional level; and in building positive community relations. After almost 40 years in the public service he has recently taken semi-retirement in Rural Affairs Division of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. John is married with two adult children and three grandchildren and his main recreational pursuit is angling.       
    John became Chair of RCN in March 2019. 

    • Gary English

    Gary English represents Co Antrim and was nominated from Ballynure & Dist Community Association

    • Nick Moore
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    Nick Moore is the Chair of County Down Rural Community Network having been a board member of the organisation since 2008.  Nick has several years’ experience working with rural community groups and has previously served as an RCN board member since 2011.  He has worked in the science research and education sectors for over 25 years, and is also active in the early years and childcare sector as he and his wife Jill are directors of Chirpy Chicks Playgroup Ltd, a not-for-profit preschool playgroup based in the Ards Peninsula.

    • Rosemary Forde
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    Rosemary is the Co Fermanagh community sector representative on the RCN Board

    • Frances Spence - Hon Secretary
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    Frances Spence lives in Ardess, Co Fermanagh and is actively involved in her local Ardess Community Association and is a member of St Mary's Ardess Church of Ireland Select Vestry.   In 2002 Frances, along with other local community representatives, started up a charity, Orphan's Hope. The main aim of this Charity is to provide workers and teachers for local orphanages in China and pay for children to be fostered out of the orphanages by local Chinese people.   They also support the Dawn Project which creates a family where children can be fostered while they are in transition to find adoptive families and who have a medical need that requires care beyond what an orphanage can provide for them.   Frances is Assistant Guide Leader with North Fermanagh Rangers, Assistant Guide Leader with 1st Magheraculmoney Brownies and she is on the Fermanagh Executive Committee of the Girl Guide Association as the International Advisor and represents Fermanagh at Ulster level.    In her spare time she enjoys going to concerts and walking.   Frances is married and has two grown up children and two grandsons and has been the Administrator for Fermanagh Rural Community Network since 1998.

    • Eimear Montague

    Eimear is the Co Tyrone community sector representative on the RCN Board

    • Aidan Bunting

    Aidan Bunting represents the community sector and was nominated from Omagh Forum

    • Chris McCarney - Treasurer

    Chris McCarney represents the NI voluntary sector on RCN Board

    • Noelle Donnell - Vice Chair

    Noelle Donnell was co-opted onto the RCN Board in January 2017. 
    Noelle has over 20 years’ experience as a volunteer and as a worker within the rural sector in Northern Ireland, mainly across the North West.

    This has included working as a project co-ordinator on various community development and Good Relations projects.  She has been a committee member of a number of organisations, including local farmers’ groups, village groups and as part of umbrella groups like The Villages Together. She is a Director of Hummingbird (NI) CIC, a rural based Good Relations and Community Development company, with specific experience in flags, emblems, identity and symbolism. She is currently a social partner on Derry & Strabane LAG. She served on District Policing Partnerships as an independent member from inception in 2003 until 2008, serving as Vice-Chair for two years.
    She has a Masters Degree in Sustainable Rural Development with Queen’s and graduated with a commendation in 2011.  Her dissertation focused on Gender Inequality on the Family Farm, looking specifically at women, their gendered roles and identity on an intergenerational basis.

    • Cllr Pete Byrne

    Pete is the statutory representative on the Board nominated through Newry, Mourne and Down District Council