Tony Underwood – Ambassador, Newcastle Rugby Foundation
Ex-England international Tony Underwood joined the Newcastle Rugby Foundation in 2022 and is dedicated to raising awareness of the organisation’s award-winning work and encouraging others to get involved.
Capped 27 times for England between 1992 and 1998, Underwood was also a two-time tourist with the British and Irish Lions, including their victorious 1997 trip to South Africa.
He made 29 appearances for the club in the Premiership, scoring 16 tries. Following his retirement from rugby he made a successful transition to become a professional airline pilot, culminating in his role as a captain with Emirates, operating the Airbus A380, the largest passenger aircraft in the world.
Tony is a co-founder of TU Consulting in leadership development, team building, environmental consulting, change management, public speaking and executive coaching.
Iain Ramage – Chair of Newcastle Rugby Foundation, semi-retired working part-time for East Durham College as Senior Project Manager
Professionally, Iain is a Chartered Quantity Surveyor, Project Manager and member of the RICS. Iain retired from his role at Durham University leading the capital works team in the Estates & Facilities Department in December 2022. He now works part-time at East Durham College supporting their capital work projects delivery.
In the amateur rugby days, he played for Berwick in the Scottish Borders District league, Gosforth, Northumberland and the Scottish Exiles (was known as the Anglo Scots in his playing days) until a neck injury curtailed his playing days at 26 years old. He turned to refereeing in the Scottish Borders and over a 35 year refereeing career officiated in the Scottish leagues, European Cup, Challenge Cup and International matches, representing Scotland at two Rugby World Cups (1999 and 2003).
He became a Trustee of the Foundation in 2008 and has witnessed the growth of programmes, positive impact on the participants and community we serve. In 2022, Iain took over as Chair of Newcastle Rugby Foundation from Mick Hogan.
Tracy Lynch – Vice Chair of Newcastle Rugby Foundation, Greggs Foundation Manager
Tracy has worked for Greggs for over 26 years and was immensely proud to head up the Greggs Foundation, the corporate charity for Greggs Plc in 2015. The Greggs Foundation’s purpose is to build a stronger, healthier communities, and one of their key initiatives is the Breakfast Club programme. Greggs Foundation works with nearly 100 businesses including Falcons Community, to help provide over 40,000 children with breakfast each school day. One of Tracy’s proudest achievements was helping to turn the Tackling Health programme, originally designed and delivered by Falcons Community, into a national programme delivered across all Premiership clubs to over 15,000 per year.
Mick Hogan – Founder of MMG Sports LTD
Mick Hogan was Chair of the Newcastle Rugby Foundation from 2014- 2022, as well as being Executive Director at the Falcons and Chair at Newcastle Thunder. Although Mick is no longer Chair, he is still a trustee to the foundation. Currently, Mick runs his own Sports Consultancy – MMG Sports Ltd. He is incredibly proud of the work we do at the Foundation and is determined to continue to have such a positive impact on as wide a group as possible throughout our region.
Stephen Savage – Project Director at the City of Sunderland
Stephen has been on the foundation since 2016 He has worked in Newcastle all his career latterly as a Director for Newcastle City Council . He led a variety of services whilst helping to attract and deliver major events in the City including Tall Ships , Magic Weekend , 2012 Olympics , 2015 Rugby World Cup and 2019 Heineken Cup . He is currently working at the City of Sunderland as Project Director and remains committed to the region . Stephen remains actively involved in delivering sport at grass roots level whilst attracting further major events to the region which deliver economic benefit.
Jeff Ball – Investment Manager, RBC Brewin Dolphin
A trustee since 2021, Jeffrey chairs the Finance & Governance Committee. With both a rugby union and league background, most notably chair of Cramlington Rockets RLFC, a former national rugby league club of the year, he is a passionate supporter of the region’s third sector. Director of RBC Brewin Dolphin’s Charity Team, he works with over 100 charities to invest their assets to support their beneficiaries, focusing on ESG, CSR and governance. He is also Founder of Rockets Community Foundation, Chair of the North East Charity Awards and a keen fundraiser for a number of charities.
Kim McGuinness – Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner
First elected as Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria in July 2019, Kim was re-elected in May 2021 following a successful campaign focusing on fighting crime, preventing crime and improving lives. Prior to this, Kim was a Labour Councilor for Newcastle City Council, and a cabinet member for Culture, Sport and Public Health. Kim is passionate about our region and proud to call the North East her home – she was born and brought up in Newcastle and also attended University in the city. Kim has been the driving force behind Northumbria’s Violence Reduction Unit, committed to coordinating efforts between police and partners to find long-term solutions to address inequality and deprivation which will ultimately reduce crime in our region.
Rob Vickers – Durham Wooden Spoon
Front-row forward, Rob Vickers is among the top-five appearance makers in Newcastle Falcons’ professional history. The Barnsley-born scrummager packed down 262 times for the club over a period of 12 years before retiring from playing at the end of the 2017-18 season. That campaign saw him as a central figure in the side as Newcastle reached their first and so far only Premiership semi-final, with Vickers’ close range try-scoring ability helping the Falcons to a number of crucial victories. A Durham University graduate who began his professional career playing hooker, Vickers successfully converted to loose-head prop for his last few seasons, becoming a firm fans’ favourite for his full-blooded playing style and earning international recognition for England Saxons. Always a supporter of the club’s community activities during his playing days, Vickers has maintained this association even in retirement and continues to spread the positive message.
Sunil Mehra – Director of Zara Group/Strategic Finance
Sunil has been a member of the Newcastle Rugby Foundation Board of Trustees for 8 years. Sunil works in Commercial/ Residential Real Estate investment and development, entrepreneurship, troubleshooting, mentoring, philanthropy and campaigning for worthy causes.
James Ponton – Head of Academy
James started his playing career with Percy Park before making the move to Tynedale. His professional career started at West Hartlepool, followed by Leeds Tykes. His coaching career began at Sedgeley Park where he was player coach, before moving to Newcastle. James joined the Falcons as an academy coach in January 2012, moving up to academy head coach and then head of academy in 2022.
Mike Stephenson – Wooden Spoon Durham
Mike has been on the Board of Trustees since 2006. Father of Newcastle Falcons former players, Michael Stephenson, Mike has also been an instrumental in the success of Wooden Spoon Durham.
Jack Spoor – Robson Laidlaw
Jack is an Associate Director at Robson Laidler and heads up their Business Advisory Service Line, which includes strategy facilitation and business coaching as well as virtual FD roles and financial forecasting and modelling. Jack has 10 years of experience in the industry, 5 of which I have been qualified Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA). He is an ex-treasurer of Novocastrians RFC, having spent 5 years on their executive committee, so have a good understanding of the grassroots of the sport and the benefits to the wider community.