Skip to main content

Digital Envoy Biographies

Simon Thompson


Professor of Computer Science, University of Kent

Simon is a professor of computer science at the University of Kent, and a champion for universities, industry and public bodies working together. Students have a huge amount to contribute through initiative like the Kent IT Consultancy and year-long “sandwich” placements; at the same time, this is the way for them to build essential practical skills based on what we have taught them in the classroom. Simon is also an established researcher, author of texts on programming Erlang, Haskell and type theories, and a pioneer in developing online MOOC courses at Kent.



Heidi Colthup

heidi Colthup

Lecturer, Creative and Professional Writing, Canterbury Christ Church University

Heidi Colthup teaches at both Canterbury Christ Church University where she’s a senior lecturer in the School of Humanities, and at the University of Kent where she’s an Associate Lecturer . She began her career as a teacher and has taught across the age ranges in a wide variety of settings. After retraining as an artist and then writer she has been a regular columnist for a national magazine, as well as continuing to freelance as a writer and editor for both traditional print and online outlets. Heidi is currently researching narrative in video games and electronic literature in order to complete her PhD in English Language and Linguistics at the University of Kent. Her research interests also include Postmodern and Digimodern literature, emergent narratives in video games, cognitive narratology, social media, and contemporary culture within the digital humanities.



David Meakin

 Trainee IT Consultant and Student and University of Kent

David is a student at the University of Kent studying Computing. He previously worked for Kent Connects for his year in industry working to make Kent a more digitally inclusive county on the digital.together programme.

He is now a part-time IT consultant for KITC alongside his studies. David is a keen technology blogger and a passionate advocate for social equality and digital inclusion. Currently using the skills he acquired during his time at Kent Connects leading a digital training programme in Uganda. All information can be found at his blog:


Patrick Cantellow


 Founder of Swale Young People

It would be a pleasure to become a digital envoy along with the other fantastic members!

I have had a passion for technology since a young age, and am now pursuing an apprenticeship in the sector. My organisation, Swale Young People, uses digital, mainly social media, to engage and sign up young people. We currently have amazing plans to extend this even further if we are successful with KCC commissioning. Also, we are beginning to look into how we can use Minecraft to talk to different types of young people into getting involved in the community.

Being 17, I am a digital native and find technology a normal part of life.

I am eager to promote the benefits of going digital in all sorts of companies and organisations. Including more efficient work flow, money savings, as well as making it easier to engage with customers in a new way.

I have spoken on digital safety at conferences, and am currently a part of The Children’s Commissioners Digital Task Force, where we are looking at developing an open source and easy to use tool to report abuse online.


Luke Quilter


Co-founder, Sleeping Giant Media


I’m co-founder of Sleeping Giant Media – a fast growing digital marketing agency with 35 staff, based in Folkestone. We are a Google Partner and were recently voted the number 1 agency for customer service in the UK in the Drum Digital Census. I talk at various events throughout the year including, Kent B2B, GetSocial and our self hosted talks “Giant Talks”. I also deliver training to numerous companies and schools, and get involved with local community forums.
We like to think we don’t just predict future trends, we are a part of them when they form! This helps us as an agency stay safe in the knowledge we are the best option for our clients, and constantly keeps us on our toes. The digital world is definitely not a fixed one.

Kane Simms


Digital Consultant and Digital Services Manager at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council 


Kane is a Digital Consultant and has worked across the public sector on various digital transformation projects. With a strong background in digital marketing, user experience and service design, Kane is working with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council in implementing its digital transformation programme. He’s a keen agitator and writes on change and innovation at

Stephen Elsden


Chief Executive at Compaid


Chief Executive at Compaid, a disability charity in Kent that, among other services, supports disabled adults to learn digital skills, get online and pursue their dreams and aspirations. Stephen is a passionate advocate for the way that technology levels the playing field for disabled people, removing communication barriers and helping to overcome social exclusion. He has spoken widely on technology and disability at local and national conferences, both for KCC and for other charities.

Tom Chown


Founder of Digitom
Tom is passionate about the use of digital video across Kent. Former Deputy Editor of the pioneering Kent TV service for Kent County Council he founded Digitom Ltd, an award winning video and animation production company in Royal Tunbridge Wells, producing digital content for a broad range of public sector and private clients in the UK and further afield.

Katherine May

Betty Herbert 2011

Author and Academic
Katherine is an author, journalist and academic teaching at Canterbury Christchurch University. As Head of Development at the Whitstable Biennale she is using her social media expertise to develop stronger relationships with local audiences, with an eye on improving levels of philanthropic donation.

Adam Henderson


Founder of Millennial Mindset and Career Marketer

Adam is a career marketer with a variety of experience working in UK and Global roles at Jaguar Land Rover, as a Marketing Director at technology startups and as a Digital Marketing consultant advising top businesses on digital transformation. He is also the founder of Millennial Mindset which looks at leadership in the modern workplace. More information at

Paul Andrews


Business Bunker Radio
Paul is a former Kent entrepreneur of the year and founder of 9 businesses primarily in the digital space.
He is passionate about small businesses and their involvement in the community.
Paul runs Fruitworks the community workspace for Digital startups in Canterbury and presents the weekly BusinessBunker Radio show on

Zoe Cairns


ZC Media
Zoe’s passion is sharing the message about Social Media and how it can be used in business. She recently appeared on ITV This Morning as a Social Media Expert to give my opinion on “When Social Media goes wrong!”
She launched ZC Social Media nearly 4 years ago after initially getting into social media in my role as mortgage broker/IFA.

Dorien Flies


EPIK (Encouraging Programming In Kids) is a voluntary Kent group for geeky youths and their families with an on-going strong partnership with the Mozilla foundation, Kent Linux user group and NetBeans. This framed by Arts award (British Arts council) as a UK delivery mechanism. EPIK’s focus is to encourage programming, this both within a technical context and also as developing social skills through peer to peer collaborative projects that advocates “Code literacy” and building a resilience to the world of people, through play.

Jennie Thomas


Stone Parish Council
Jennie has been Parish Clerk at Stone Parish Council in Kent since 2007.
She have successfully positioned the council as the first port of call for residents through re-branding and implementation of a digital & social media communications strategy to create healthy levels of community engagement and interaction.
Jennie works closely with both the National and Kent Association of Local Councils to bring about innovation and improvement in the local council sector, and has delivered training and presentations on subjects such as social media, digital communications, capacity building, and openness & transparency.

Simon Ryan



Simon’s award winning career spans the launch of the Internet and mobile phones to UK businesses with Cable & Wireless, launching the UK Government’s first transaction portal site, and developing buying and selling a home digitally with the Land Registry.

He now works with select businesses and councils that want to form closer relationships with their audience through great content and social media engagement.

He is a regular speaker on digital marketing topics including measurement, customer service, content and FCA guidelines.

Jon Pratty


BDF 2015 Chair
Jon is a Creative Digital Producer currently working with a wide range of regional clients from Ideas Test in North Kent to Tech Resort in Eastbourne, and nationally with clients such as the Southbank Centre and the Barbican in London. As well as producing digital events with an emphasis on learning, Jon is the first Chair of Brighton Digital Festival CIC.
Jon also developed and delivered Ideas Camp, a one-day idea development event for North Kent artists and creatives, followed by an online webinar. He is now developing a digital skills programme for the new Ideas Test space in Sittingbourne, all with local and regional talent.

Jason Marshall


Manager of the Kent IT Consultancy Manager of the Kent IT Consultancy
Jason runs the Kent IT Consultancy which is part of the School of Computing at the University of Kent. The KITC is staffed by computing students, and aims to provide help and guidance to local organisations on how to get the best out of digital technologies.
Jason is passionate about digital technology, feeling strongly that it can have a transformational effect on the way that we live and do business, so long as people are the priority and not the technology itself.

Peter Fleming


Sevenoaks District Council Leader
Peter is leader of Sevenoaks District Council, Deputy Chairman of the Local Government association and past Chairman of the LGA’s improvement & innovation board as such Peter’s role was to lead on digital for the local government sector. A strong opponent to a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Rohan Abeysuriya


Sr Manager at Cisco
Rohan works with Cisco’s customers and partners on how to navigate the enormous opportunities that Digital brings to Companies, Cities and Countries. He is passionate that technology can enable more people to do the same and equalise opportunities for all. Rohan first got involved with Transformed By You in 2014 is looking forward to supporting digital.together in the year ahead, specifically on helping Kent business to understand the digital challenge…“Disrupt or be Disrupted!”

Sam Dondi-Smith

sam dondi smith

Founder of Interactive Me
Sam set up Interactive Me in 2014, a social enterprise which supports people with dementia to improve their wellbeing by engaging in meaningful reminiscent activity. Interactive Me is aimed at supporting a person’s journey through the care system and fits the increasing need for personalisation in dementia care.

Sean Hale

Sean Hale

Head of ICT – East Kent Services
Sean is actively promoting the drive within East Kent to deliver a unified digital approach across all the East Kent partners; providing common approaches but also recognising localism and different needs of the partners and their residents.

Mike Thompson


Director of Artifactual
Mike is the Director of Artifactual, a Kent-based consultancy that helps organisations create new digital products and services. At Artifactual, Mike combines user research, rigorous analysis and prototyping to help organisations create new digital products or rethink established ones. Mike is also a board member of the neighbourhood sharing site and a visiting lecturer on UCL’s MSc in Human-Computer Interaction.

Natasha Steer


Education & Community Development Coordinator at Nucleus Arts, Creator and Editor of Creatabot
Natasha was nominated a community catalyst through Ideas Test and also awarded with a Pride in Medway award by the University of Kent. She has experience in using creativity to benefit wellbeing as well as deploying creative thinking for problem solving and service design.

Dan Knox


PhD Student at University of Kent and Technician of The Shed Makerspace
During his PhD he became president of Tinkersoc, Kent’s Maker Society, combining his hobby of model engineering with his computer science knowledge. He recently helped setup a makerspace within the School of Computing and works in it as one of the technicians.

Kate Kneale


Geek Festival
Drawing on the Hope Livingstone report and supported by Ian Livingstone she has tried to draw attention to the opportunities offered to the local area by focusing on digital skills. This has involved developing various large scale projects including the GEEK festival of play and games.
During 2012-13 Kate led the Kent cluster of Artswork project ‘Extending Digital Practice’ , a year-long action research project involving schools, colleges and arts organisations.

Jenny Kitchen


Managing Director of YoYo
Jenny is passionate about creating opportunities for young people in digital and marketing. The agency runs Yoyo Academy in partnership with local charities , welcoming hungry interns through their doors each year to cut their teeth in the digital world.
Jenny was named Top 30 under 30 by The Drum and is featured in the BIMA Hot 100 list of the top people in digital in the UK for the past 2 years.

Lizzie Hodgson


Founder of Think Nation
Lizzie is Founder of ThinkNation, an ‘ideas as inspiration’ platform for young people. Passionate about how digital technologies and open source can empower and engage everyone, she also works with large organisations to understand the value of digital in everyday life, as well as frequently running tech and digital events that are purposefully inclusive for the whole community.

Ian Hirst


Digital Services & Transformation Manager, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
Ian is helping local Government deliver online services that the average person can use without frustration, hindrance or recourse to the telephone when things go wrong. Ian leads on initiatives to help improve the online user experience for users of council websites across Kent, as well as getting involved in national digital campaigns.

Tracey Gleeson


Digital Services Manager, Kent County Council
Tracey is passionate about making services easy for people to use online – whether they are on the move or at home in front of the TV, whether they are digital experts or are venturing online for the first time. She gets to do this as the digital service design and user experience lead for Kent County Council, finding out how people use council services both online and offline, understanding their motivations, behaviours and expectations and using this insight to design better customer experiences.

Peter Brook


Partnerships & Change Manager, Kent County Council
Peter leads the service design work stream at Kent County Council, managing a team of Change Design Officers and Information Analysts. The team are engaged in end-to-end service redesign across telephone, face-to-face and digital.
Peter is currently chair of the Customer Service Design Council & a Board member of the DCLG’s Digital Partners Programme.

William Benson


Chief Executive of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Chair of the Public Services ICT Board
William is overseeing an ambitious five-year plan that will result in significant improvements to the infrastructure and facilities within the town of Royal Tunbridge Wells and the wider borough. He continues to work proactively with partners in the public, private and voluntary sector to improve services for communities against an extremely challenging financial backdrop.

Subscribe today for updates on the latest digital.together events