About Bridge Builders


Our Chair


Dame Janet Trotter DBE CVO

Janet Trotter started her career as a teacher and progressed to be appointed Vice-Principal of St Martin’s College, Lancaster and later Principal of St Paul and St Mary’s College in Cheltenham. She founded the Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education in 1990 and just over ten years later achieved University status for the College. As a result, Janet was appointed the first Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Gloucestershire from 2001 to 2006.

Janet has also served on the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Teacher Training Agency. She currently sits on the Gloucestershire Learning and Skills Council, is a Panel Member of the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme, and a Chair of the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Janet was awarded OBE in 1991 and DBE in 2001. She has honorary degrees from PCES University, Hungary, Bristol University and the University of West England. In October 2010, Janet was appointed Lord-Lieutenant of Gloucestershire.

Our Founder

Concern surrounding underachievement of young males was brought into sharp focus in 2007 by the independent REACH report. Sponsored by The Home Office, The Department for Communities and Local Government and The Department for Education and Families, the report explored the costs associated with the problems that can arise from a disadvantaged socio-economic background, in this case specifically for young black males.  These costs are associated with over-representation in the Criminal Justice System and reduced gross earnings and taxes associated with educational underachievement.  They are estimated at £808 million a year and could amount to £24 billion over the next 50 years if the underlying issues are not addressed.

The REACH report was chaired by Clive Lewis OBE DL, founder of The Bridge Builders Mentoring Scheme. From a working-class background himself, Clive attributes his corporate career success to hard work and maintaining a positive attitude. A key finding of the REACH report was a lack of positive male role models, particularly black male role models, in the media and the lives of young men. Clive knows from experience that the socio-economic gap to success can be bridged – he has held a number of senior level HR positions, is a company director and was awarded an OBE in 2010 for his contributions to the REACH report and the workplace mediation industry. Thus his involvement in the REACH report, together with his own personal experience, has inspired the development of the Bridge Builders Mentoring Scheme.

Watch the following video of Clive Lewis, REACH report Chair, talking about the report in an interview: 

Our Advisory Board

The day-to-day operation of Bridge Builders Mentoring is overseen by an Advisory Board comprised of a team of Stakeholders. The Advisory Board is chaired by Dame Janet Trotter. The group of Stakeholders includes, or has included, representatives of the following organisations:

The Advisory Board meets twice a year to provide guidance and feedback to the Bridge Builders team. Topics covered range from Social Mobility in the UK to evaluation of effectiveness of current projects and overall charity development.

If your organisation would like to nominate a representative for the Bridge Builders Advisory Board, please get in touch with our Bridge Builders Coordinator, Val Bunker, on val.bunker@bridgebuilders.org.uk  

Our Administration team

Val Bunker - BB coordinator (2).jpg

Val Bunker

Val is responsible for the day-to-day running of Bridge Builders.  She has a corporate background having worked for IBM in technical support, marketing, project management and Quality Assurance roles.  She has also spent time teaching English as a Foreign Language


Julie Gardiner

Julie’s background and previous experience has predominantly been within the Criminal Justice and Policing sector where she was involved in strategic planning, conference and event management and all wider office management functions.  As well as supporting Val, her main role is as Clive Lewis’s Executive Assistant