Neil Pirie – Chairman
Neil is one of the founders of East Bristol Enterprise in 1985, which became Bristol Spaceworks in 2010. During this time he has served as a Director and for the last 23 years as Chairman. Neil has overseen the business from the early planning stages, through funding and construction projections and a merger to its current position of running 4 successful locations in Bristol with ambitions for further growth.
Neil and the original team ran a Youth Opportunity Programme and then a Community Programme from the Old Co-Op. It was this initial experience which highlighted the lack of affordable commercial premises in East Central Bristol for start-up and local businesses. Neil and colleagues also started East Bristol Youth Housing at the Old Co-Op and In Your Own Words – to assist non-English speaking parents to understand what was happening to their children at school.
As well as his success in building and guiding Bristol Spaceworks over the last 30 years, Neil had a varied career in local government in South Gloucestershire and Liverpool City Council and a community project in Toxteth.
Aside from his business interests Neil is also an active member of Bristol Ariel Rowing Club and is the Chair of Horfield and District Allotment Association.
James Hawkins – Company Secretary
James is a solicitor at Meade King LLP based in the centre of Bristol. At Meade King, James is the head of the Company and Commercial Department which includes their employment and dental practice teams. James is also the Managing Partner of Meade King and Partner in charge of IT services within the firm.
James spent many years advising the Specsavers Group during the period of its rapid expansion from a small owner-managed business to a multi-national group. During that period, James developed the Specsavers unique joint venture franchise agreement which has been imitated by many other professional franchise operators, both in the optics and other professional arenas.
James handles a wide range of commercial work for owner-managed business and family-owned businesses. Principally these are based in the South West and South Wales. The work that James does for owner-managed businesses ranges from their formation, working with the businesses whilst they grow and assisting them on acquisitions and/or disposals of the business in order to realise the owner manager’s investment.
When James is not working for Meade King, he runs a farm of around 100 acres in South Wales where his wife and James breed pedigree British White cattle and Lleyn sheep.
James is proud to be a director of Bristol Spaceworks Limited, an enterprise agency based in the East of Bristol which provides affordable workspace to business start-ups in that part of the city. He is also a trustee of The Alderman Steevens Almshouse charity which provides sheltered accommodation to individuals with learning difficulties in the parishes of St Philip, St Jacob and Temple in central Bristol.
James also enjoys playing tennis with his children and fishing on the River Usk whenever he has the time to do so.
Lydia joined the board in 2020 and has a wealth of commercial experience, including running a large family logistics business and her own start-up. Lydia is a Business Advisor and has led teams supporting business owners from refugee and migrant backgrounds.
Peter is a Chartered Surveyor with more than 30 years experience of commercial valuation and property development. Early in his career, he was awarded the ISVA Young Auctioneer Award. His special expertise is in Licensed, Leisure and Hotels, developed whilst working in London. However, his understanding and dealings with planning departments and law, structural challenges of sites and buildings and development issues mean he offers advice across a wide spectrum. Present projects include the development of the Old Town Hall, Warminster which has been shortlisted for the 2016 RICS South West Conservation Award.
Having run his own businesses he understands first-hand the challenges and solutions to development issues. His past experience includes Visiting Lecturer in Specialist Valuation at the University of West England. Peter has remained a keen tennis player since childhood and loves rambling with his adored wife
Chris Chapman’s roots are in the hospitality industry. Having worked for many years at Management and Director level in operations for an international catering company, he helped set up their catering equipment division. In 1990 he left to set up his own catering equipment company, installing kitchens and bars for the likes of P&O, Railtrack, Hilton and Rocco Forte hotels, MoD, Orange, Universities and Schools and the Mick Jagger Voodoo Lounge in Leicester Sq. The company was extremely successful and expanded rapidly until 19999 when disaster struck in the form of several substantial client insolvencies. This experience provided an excellent platform for what came next – the offer to work as a start-up business advisor at East Bristol Enterprise, now Bristol Spaceworks.
He subsequently became Chief Executive of the company, bringing the Old Library and the Old Schoolhouse into the portfolio, which represented a substantial increase in the number of lettable units available. He retired in 2014, handing over the reins to the current CEO, Matt Johnstone. With waiting lists for all 4 existing buildings, he hopes to support Matt in the search for suitable premises for conversion to more workspaces for small and growing businesses.
Michael currently works for independent trust Power to Change, supporting the development of community businesses across England. Previously he worked for Bristol Energy – an ethical energy supplier owned by Bristol City Council, and was responsible for Partnerships strategy and delivery of the company’s social good mission on renewable energy, fuel poverty and local communities. Michael played a central role in the creation and development of the Bristol Pound, the largest local currency scheme in the UK which currently supports a network of over 800 independent businesses and stimulates sustainable local economic development. He has a strong local network in Bristol, is passionate about all aspects of sustainability, particularly local food and renewable energy. He lives in East Bristol and is a Trustee of St Werburghs Community Centre.
Usman is a Chartered Architectural Technologist and Director at Studio Yaqub based in Bristol. At Studio Yaqub, Usman is the Principal at the company where they provide Architectural and Party Wall Services. Some of the projects that Usman has been responsible for include a number of listed buildings such as The Station, Bristol and Court Mills, Trowbridge. He has also been responsible for delivering a large extension to Sainsburys Supermarket, Stroud and also worked in Vietnam, where he was responsible for a team of 12 people to deliver 5 construction projects with a combined value in excess of £40m.
His main focus is Architecture where he advises clients from home owners to large developers on various aspects of their schemes and provides services from Concept to Completion including Planning to Building Regulation Drawings and their Submission. Usman is not only a Director at Bristol Spaceworks but is also on the regional board for his professional body The Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT).
With over 20 years’ experience of managing teams of varying sizes with a solid background in retail management and training for WH Smith Plc, recruitment, student accommodation for Unite Students Plc and Independent HR Consultancy, Nina demonstrates a practical and pragmatic understanding of the challenges facing line managers in today’s business environment.
Nina believes in life-long learning: she studied for a BSc (Hons) in Biology, various retail management diplomas and gained CIPD membership. She is also a member of the Institute of Leadership and Management and an accredited NLP Practitioner.
Nina runs Mayler Management Coaching which focuses on improving managers, team leaders and supervisors to bring out the best in their people, using her innovative Unique Management Footprint© and Unique Career Footprint© systems.
Having worked across 10 different industries including serving as a charity trustee, she particularly enjoys working in and supporting the SME arena.
In 2019, Nina was appointed as a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant for EW Group, based in London.