The Team

The AHS is run by student volunteers, and consists of two groupings: the Executive, who are elected during the AGM, and in who in turn appoint Officers. Below are the current holders of each position – we also have the previous position-holders.

Executive

President

Chris Malburn

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Chris co-founded University of Liverpool Humanists, after attending the 2012 AHS AGM on a whim. He spent the next two years as President, during which time the society organised numerous events, won two AHS awards, and kept cordial relationships with the Guild of Students and faith societies on campus.He’s been involved in the AHS for two years, taking on an RDO position for the North West in late 2012, volunteered at the 2014 Convention and was a host organiser for the 2014 AGM in Liverpool.

He attended a CE school, and would have described himself as a Christian until several years after he left, when finding the Skeptics movement encouraged him to take a second look at the teachings of the Bible and he discovered that he was thoroughly unconvinced. After a while as a conflicted Agnostic, he’s now very happy to call himself an Atheist and a Humanist. In his spare time, he’s been known to play bass (badly), volunteer at a local Fab Lab, and neglect a growing pile of books in favour of wasting time on the internet.

Secretary

Martin Smith

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Martin wanted to be involved in the AHS for two main reasons: First, that, perhaps for the first time ever, we are in a golden age for the living with improved healthcare, better food, greater knowledge and longer life expectancy, and strong civil rights movements. Second, that those who are irreligious, in whatever form, now have the knowledge that they, we, are just stardust which, for him, is far more beautiful than the idea of any burning bush. This perspective gives itself naturally to a secular humanism based on empathy, reason and a common solidarity and he is, for this reason, a proud member of the British Humanist Association.

Martin studies Ancient History and History at the University of Nottingham where he also operates as the Publicity Officer for the University of Nottingham Agnostic, Secular and Humanist Society and he feels that through a proper understanding of history, the only conclusion about the origins of the human race that leaves him with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. Martin believes firmly in the values of free speech and free expression and is an avid believer that people should be allowed to be themselves as after all, everyone else is already taken.

Treasurer

Daniel Newman

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Daniel has been on the committee of the University of Liverpool Humanist society since its reboot two years ago and is now currently the President, he also help organise the 2014 AHS AGM in Liverpool. Having graduated from the University of Liverpool with a degree in Physiology , Daniel is currently enrolled on a PhD programme in Molecular and Cellular Physiology at the University of Liverpool. It is unsurprising therefore that Daniel highlights scientific Scepticism as the foundation of his Humanist world view.

Officers

Campaigns Officer

Caitlin Greenwood

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Having attended Catholic school for seven years, Caitlin is consequently about as firmly convinced of the non-existence of God as it is possible to be, without becoming hyperbolic. Attending the University of Bristol and having joined the atheist, agnostic and secular society, she helped run the society for two years, during which time she invited speakers, organised events and attended AHS conventions. Recently graduating from the University of Oxford, she now hopes to further her interest in Romans by hanging around in museums and boring tourists. Her plans for the AHS include increasing diversity, opposing gender segregation and defeating censorship on campus. Her hobbies include writing about herself in the third person and imitating the style of Caesar's Gallic Wars.

Communications

Luke Dabin

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Luke is a Biochemistry graduate, a student of Neurobiology, an agnostic atheist, a sceptic, an amateur science communicator and incredibly easily entertained. In his spare time he picks apart faulty scientific reasoning on creationist Facebook groups, listens to loud music and writes shoddy speculative fiction about geese and the Sassanid empire.

The number of believers who understand and identify with humanist values and the need for secularism is increasing. That said, further outreach and activism remain necessary. Luke enjoys doing both of those things. In what is bound to be a tumultuous year crammed with exciting events, he is looking forward to making sure every member of the AHS knows exactly whatever's going down in whichever hood, as well as helping to promote further cohesion and collaboration among the secular student community - occasionally while wearing a bizarre wig.

Head of Membership

Adam Carnall

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As well as his responsibilities with the AHS, Adam is the current president of Durham Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society. As a fourth year Astrophysics student, Adam has been an atheist for several years, having been forced to confront the big questions of the Universe every day whilst studying for his degree! He believes secular politics and a sceptical, freethinking worldview are absolutely vital to our progress as a species and that with them we can achieve amazing things which transcend the problems we face today as a society.

He hopes to study for a PhD on completion of his degree, and so will hopefully be involved in the AHS for a few years to come. In his rapidly diminishing spare time, Adam enjoys distance running, rowing and reading science fiction, as well as occasionally dabbling in folk dancing when pressed by his somewhat obsessed housemates.

Education

Helena Siggins

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Helena has been involved with the University of Liverpool Humanist Society since approximately thirty seconds after she heard it was a thing back in 2012. She has returned to being committee member for the society there, after living abroad for a year as part of her work towards a BA in Hispanic Studies.  She considers herself an atheist, humanist and secularist. Helena is from Dorset but frequently tries and fails to make out she’s from Bristol.

Web Officer

Sam Whitehall

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Since starting university in Southampton, Sam has started saying he comes from "near Manchester", as only fans of Joy Division or football have heard of Macclesfield – and he only hangs out with the former. His earliest memory of questioning religion was challenging a reverend's literal interpretation of The Feeding of the 5000 in primary school, by calculating the per capita volume of bread. He is currently President of the University of Southampton Atheist Society.

He studies Computer Science, and when not working, can be found reading (too much), drinking tea (too often) and running (not enough). As well as speaking "computer", Sam can also speak German, because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Social Media and Marketing

Cloe Ansari

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Cloe is the founder and ex-president of London South Bank University's Atheist society. After a shaky start, the society went on to win two awards at the 2014 AHS conference. She has a deep and profound love of both Christopher Hitchens and whisky – on a good day, mixing them. Cloe also has started to blog for Atheist Republic and believes it's essential to spread secular speech.

Recently gaining her English degree, she hopes to put more time into writing and supporting atheism. You may see her wearing parrot glasses and frightening Anjem Choudary, or making people very uncomfortable with pasta posters. She enjoys cycling and stroking stranger's dogs in the street.

Design Officer

Sylvia Broeckx

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Originally from Belgium, where she studied Art History at the Catholic University of Leuven, Sylvia came to the UK in 1999 to study Film at Sheffield Hallam University. After working for 11 years as a freelance filmmaker, which included being the director of the documentary Hug an Atheist, she went back to university in 2014 to do an MA in American History at the University of Sheffield. Her dissertation will focus on atheist activism in the USA after 1945. Sylvia is currently the president of the Secular and Atheist Society at the university. When she isn’t occupied with anything related to history, atheism or film, she’s likes to spend her time cooking and baking, binge watching TV series or travelling, and she’s a self-confessed Disneyholic.

Lead Researcher

Russell Byford-Harding

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Contrary to the seemingly entrenched view that being an atheist is a part-time job, Russell takes the opposite approach, making this a full-time thing.

Co-founding a Humanist society at his Sixth Form, he has been involved in secular activities for quite some time. Now a proud member of the University of Nottingham’s Secular society, he spends more time on being a thorn in the side of religion (amongst other things), as opposed to actually doing his degree – which is plain old history if anybody should ask.  (Martin would never approve of this description, mind you!)

Besides being an unabashed critic of all things authoritarian, censorious, regressive and bossy (a portfolio which all religions fit), Russell likes to spend his free time riding his motorcycle, or on a boat chillin like a villain.

When not out for a spin or a float, he may not be too hard to find; usually in a room ranting about something political or maybe even economic (if the conversation is tropical enough). He resides either in Nottingham, or his home of South-East Cambridgeshire - where there tends to be a lot of tractors, but little more exciting than that.

Regional Development Officers

Scotland

Ian Scott

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Ian is a postgraduate psychology student at the University of Edinburgh. He was President of the University of Edinburgh Humanist Society in his first year as an undergraduate, going on to be Treasurer and then Secretary in later years. Ian has been President of Glasgow Skeptics since 2009, and was elected Chair of the Humanist Society Scotland in May 2014. He has been the AHS's RDO for Scotland since 2011.

North East England

Terry Waites

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Mr Terence Waites (Terry) is a retired British Army Officer and Communications Engineer who recently studied at the University of Durham.  He received his BSc(Hons) in Mathematics and Computing from the Open University and an MSc in the Design of Information Systems from Cranfield University.  He has had experience all over the World producing secure Communications and Information Systems under extreme and dangerous conditions and within tight deadlines.  He is a Fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology and is an Incorporated Engineer and mentor for young engineers in the IET.

When eventually retiring from the Army he decided to teach Physics and Mathematics and undertook a Post-Grad Certificate in Education at the University of Durham where he first made contact with the AHS.

Volunteer work in support of Humanists and sceptical societies forced a choice to be made between teaching and volunteer work. Teaching took a back seat.  Mr Waites now assists with the North East Humanists organisation in Stockton-on-Tees and fills the role of North-East Development Officer for the ASH.  In addition he is the Veterans representative at the UK Armed Forces Humanists Association.

Mr Waites is enthusiastic about sport, keen on cycling and skiing, and enjoys following top class rugby and cricket. He currently resides in Thornaby-on-Tees with wife, Catherine and daughter Bethany.  He can be contacted at tpwaites@iee.org.

West Midlands

Lorna Mckeown

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Lorna is a mature student studying Sociology at Keele University.She has essentially been a humanist from as far back as she can remember and only recently discovered it was an actual movement. She is motivated by a need to help people, and improve the lives of others and she sees the AHS as a perfect way to do so. Lorna is crazy for science, especially physics and intends to study for a degree in mathematics and physics one day. She has a healthy obsession with Jim Al-Khalili, Michio Kaku, Dara O Briain, her physics lecturer, (the list goes on) and a perhaps not so healthy obsession with Brian Cox.

Wales

Tom Stitfall

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Tom is currently studying International Politics at Aberystwyth University. It was during his first year at Aberystwyth Tom met some brilliant like-minded individuals and helped start Aberystwyth Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society (AASH) and has been on the committee ever since.

Tom had a very Catholic upbringing, but his use of reason, empathy and compassion highlighted the abhorrent values of the Church of which he is no longer a follower. Tom is a committed secular humanist and republican who wants to get more involved with the AHS and  to demonstrate Wales really is the most secular nation in the UK.

South East England

Sean Oakley

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Sean was the founder and 3-year president of Reading's AHS society, as well as being President of the Buddhist Society for 3 years. In terms of the AHS, he is a former press officer and contributor. He's interested in left-wing political, social, and ethical commentary, so is striving to be a part of in-depth journalism.

Greater London

Emma Bell

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Emma Bell is a founding member and the current Chair of Imperial Atheists, Secularists and Humanists. In the lead-up to the World Humanist Congress 2014 Emma sat on the Congress’ Organising Committee as Web Manager, managed social media and also acted as a volunteer captain during the event itself. In her spare time she pursues a PhD studying how gene expression is regulated in the early embryo and sings with Lips Choir, London’s favourite all-female feminist pop-choir.

East Midlands

Hari Parekh

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Hari is a third year Psychology and Criminology student at the University of Northampton. He felt there was a strong emphasis towards religious societies at the university, so the need to meet like-minded individuals meant he established an AHS society. During his second year at university, Hari realised that Hinduism was unable to provide answers to understand the empirical world, and neither had Hinduism evolved to support the discoveries of science and reason. He aims to engage with student AHS societies across the region. Further engagement with religious societies at universities can provide a valuable opportunity to raise an awareness of the AHS and provide the chance to communicate with individuals that have not got an AHS society at university.

Yorkshire and the Humber

Sylvia Broeckx

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Originally from Belgium, where she studied Art History at the Catholic University of Leuven, Sylvia came to the UK in 1999 to study Film at Sheffield Hallam University. After working for 11 years as a freelance filmmaker, which included being the director of the documentary Hug an Atheist, she went back to university in 2014 to do an MA in American History at the University of Sheffield. Her dissertation will focus on atheist activism in the USA after 1945. Sylvia is currently the president of the Secular and Atheist Society at the university. When she isn’t occupied with anything related to history, atheism or film, she’s likes to spend her time cooking and baking, binge watching TV series or travelling, and she’s a self-confessed Disneyholic.

South West England

Benjamin Lewis

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Ben was a (re-)founding member of the Durham University Humanist Society (now Durham University Atheist, Humanist and Secular Society) and served as it's first Secretary. After completing his first degree at Durham, he migrated south to the warmer climate in Exeter and was again a founding member and, this time, Treasurer of the Exeter Atheist, Humanist and Secular Society. After a sojourn to Melbourne, he has returned to the UK as a Regional Officer for the AHS.When not founding AHS societies, Ben is studying for a Ph.D. in Theoretical Astronomy.

North West England

This position is currently vacant.

East of England

This position is currently vacant.

Republic of Ireland

This position is currently vacant.

Northern Ireland

This position is currently vacant.

Board

Chris Malburn

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Chris co-founded University of Liverpool Humanists, after attending the 2012 AHS AGM on a whim. He spent the next two years as President, during which time the society organised numerous events, won two AHS awards, and kept cordial relationships with the Guild of Students and faith societies on campus.He’s been involved in the AHS for two years, taking on an RDO position for the North West in late 2012, volunteered at the 2014 Convention and was a host organiser for the 2014 AGM in Liverpool.

He attended a CE school, and would have described himself as a Christian until several years after he left, when finding the Skeptics movement encouraged him to take a second look at the teachings of the Bible and he discovered that he was thoroughly unconvinced. After a while as a conflicted Agnostic, he’s now very happy to call himself an Atheist and a Humanist. In his spare time, he’s been known to play bass (badly), volunteer at a local Fab Lab, and neglect a growing pile of books in favour of wasting time on the internet.

Andrew Copson

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Andrew Copson became Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association in January 2010 after five years coordinating the BHA's education and public affairs work. He is a former director of the European Humanist Federation (EHF) and is currently a Vice President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), where he leads on strategic alliances and is a member of the growth and development committee. Andrew has supported the activities of the AHS since inception and was a member of the AHS's old Board of Trustees, before the AHS was reconstituted at the 2010 AGM.

Sharon Benton

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Sharon Benton has a degree in Communication Studies and has worked in marketing and PR roles for nearly 30 years. Her career has spanned a range of industries including the private and public sectors and recently as head of marketing and communications for a hospice charity. She has also worked as a marketing and business consultant with clients from the education sector, local government, retail, manufacturing and the professional services.

Despite a traditional childhood attending Sunday school and local church services with her family, Sharon did not embrace religion in adult hood and has always struggled with the conflicts around the world and loss of life in the name of religion. Her father-in-law was also an atheist and when he died she and her husband arranged a humanist funeral for him – this was a turning point for Sharon when she realised that she wanted to be more proactive as a humanist, rather than just being a passive ‘non-believer’.

Gary Shearin

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Gary has managed fundraising programs and teams for over 14 years – for some fantastic causes. He started at Comic Relief, corporate fundraising for Red Nose Day 1999 (and yes, they did party like it was). After which he grew into a corporate, trust and statutory fundraiser, moving on to the Refugee Council where he built a database to drive high volume (but very personalised) direct mail for smaller trusts – that don't accept unsolicited appeals.

Since then he's worked in various charities in permanent and consultancy roles, heading up Individual Giving and Fundraising departments. He has spent two years ‘agency side’ – as an Account Director at Bluefrog - and has recently started a blog called Fundraising Quirks.

He joined the AHS Board in 2012 and hopes to help us particularly with our fundraising campaigns.

Jenny Bartle

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As with any good whirlwind romance, Jenny went from attending her first AHS event to hosting the AGM only 3 months later. Since then she has fulfilled several roles: President, Head of Education, and presently Board Member.

Living in Bristol, she still frequents the student society she helped to run so many years ago. She works as a software engineer and can usually be recognised at Humanist events by her elaborate dresses.

Mike Paynter

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Mike was the Secretary for the AHS, having been the Head of Membership and South-West RDO, and both Academic Secretary and Treasurer of the University of Bristol Atheist, Agnostic and Secular Society (AASS). He has helped Bristol join the AHS, have its first Reason Week and build connections with the local Humanist, Secularist and Skeptics groups.

Mike has finished a PhD in Communications Engineering at the University of Bristol. He loves cycling and cooking, but has not been able to combine them ... yet.

Norman Ralph

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Norman has been on the board since 2010 and currently acts as its chair. Having acted as President, Secretary and AHS Rep during four years on the committee of Leeds Atheist Society whilst an undergraduate, Norman went on to be elected as the first president of the AHS after taking a lead role in its founding and launch. Norman is currently a senior financial analyst with BT Group following five years at Telefonica UK in project management and finance roles.

Ruth Haydock

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Ruth was the Publicity Officer of The University of St Andrews Atheist Society 2012/2013 and had been active in helping the society win two awards at the AHS convention in March 2013. In December 2012 she was appointed Press Officer and then in July 2013 she was elected the AHS Secretary.  Christianity had a massively negative influence on Ruth’s life and as a result, she is incredibly passionate about promoting humanism as a valid way of life, one which is free of guilt and fear. In April 2013, Ruth set up the first Recovering From Religion group in Scotland, which helped those who are in the process of giving up on a belief in a higher power but also those who are still dealing with the emotional scars from believing in a god.