A CORBRIDGE man who began dedicating his time to his local youth club as a youngster has risen through the ranks to become chief executive of a regional charity.

Sean Soulsby (36) has been appointed CEO of the Children’s Foundation, a North-East children’s charity.

As a child, he attended Corbridge Youth Club and he decided to give something back as a volunteer when he was a teenager. At 18, he got his first job as a youth worker for Northumberland Youth Service at Hexham’s Queen Elizabeth High School, where he had previously been a student, which he did throughout completing his degree in environmental science and agricultural ecology.

After graduating from university and getting a job at Divet Hill Quarry, near Great Bavington, as a plant technician, he continued running two youth sessions in Corbridge and one in Acomb. “I found myself looking forward to that more than being at the quarry. I asked myself ‘is this what I want to do for the rest of my life?’,” he said. “At 23, I left the quarry because I wanted to be a full-time youth worker.”

His first full-time job in the profession was as a youth participation worker as part of a Department of Health pilot project, hosted by Gateway into the Community.

After three years, Sean joined charity Children North East as a project co-ordinator for Youth Link – a peer support service – and after six years he became lead practitioner for the charity’s young people’s service. Sean had retained a core role within Corbridge Youth Initiative, and has now been chairman for eight years which he described as a “privilege”.

He said the Children’s Foundation provided services including clown doctors – play therapists to help ease anxiety for children in hospital – therapeutic horticulture project and mental health workshops.

“Our strapline is ‘making serious stuff fun’,” said Sean.

“It’s difficult to be a child in today’s society but if we can make something that would otherwise be stressful into something fun and enjoyable, why wouldn’t we?”