The trustees of Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum interviewed for a new CEO for our charity a couple of weeks ago, and appointed Helen Boardman to the role, but who is she?

Claire Watkins and Hannah Danson, the Office Manager and Communications Officer of Cornwall VSF, interviewed Helen ourselves, after her appointment, to find out a bit more about who she is, so that we can share that with our Members.

The short version is that we highly approve of our trustees’ choice, and are looking forward to working with her.  Here is the long version:

Helen Boardman is a mother of two young adult sons and the proud owner of a cavapoo called Rosie who she loves to walk on the beaches near her home. Helen started running a few months ago after successfully completing the NHS ‘Couch to 5K programme’ and has become so hooked on running that she’s now preparing to run 10K. The Cornish countryside and lifestyle are also new discoveries for Helen, and she considers herself very fortunate to live within walking distance of Tehidy Country Park.

It’s due to Helen’s son Charlie’s that she moved to Cornwall, after he persuaded her to visit for family holidays so that he could pursue his passion for surfing. The family moved here in September 2017. Thanks Charlie!

Helen Boardman, Cornwall VSF's new CEO, with her sons, Charlie and Kyle.

Helen Boardman, Cornwall VSF’s new CEO, with her sons, Charlie and Kyle.


An avid reader, Helen enjoys reading fiction as well as books which improve emotional and physical well-being. A favourite topic is organisational psychology, and Helen has enrolled on a Level 7 Executive and Senior Level Coaching and Mentoring Course which begins in March. The plan is to put her coaching and mentoring skills and experience to good use, by providing coaching and mentoring to leaders of member organisations.

Since moving to Cornwall, Helen has worked as a Service Director for First Light South West, where she successfully mobilised an integrated domestic abuse and sexual violence service. This service provides a crisis response and recovery pathway to victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence. Whilst in this role Helen has worked towards developing a systems-based approach to ending abuse in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Helen is looking forward to sharing the insight and experience she acquired at First Light, together with the experience she has gained in improving the capacity and capability of the voluntary sector, to deliver effective high quality services.

Helen’s career began in 1999 managing a young carers project, before moving on into regional and national strategic roles focused on improving the lives of vulnerable children, young people and families. Helen is an experienced trainer who has trained voluntary youth sector organisations to integrate with other services to improve outcomes for young people.

We asked Helen for ‘three words’, and a short phrase that describes her philosophy. She told us, ‘You can’t lead those who you’re not prepared to serve’, explaining that her core philosophy is servant leadership, and putting the needs of member organisations first. Helen hopes to lead alongside voluntary sector leaders, to create the conditions for the voluntary sector to thrive across Cornwall.

And the three words that Helen chose to capture her principles: humility, modesty, service.

On joining Cornwall VSF Helen understands that she has joined one great big team of people who are equally passionate about volunteering, and helping people to play an active role in their communities. She believes in calling out the gold in people, and helping people to fulfil their potential, and that taking a collaborative approach will build a better society for all. Helen has already begun to have productive conversations about how we can do this, and she recently met with leaders across the voluntary and statutory sector to discuss issues such as climate change and localism. Helen is really looking forward to continuing these conversations when she formally joins VSF towards the end of March.

The Trustees are looking forward to supporting Helen to implement our new VSF strategic plan, a plan which we believe will be the catalyst for bringing about positive and productive change across the sector.

For more about what Helen and the VICA plan for Cornwall VSF (Voices, Influence, Collaboration, Actions), see the second part of the interview, in the coming weeks.

Rose the Cavapoo, cote dog, smiling at the camera.

Rosie, Helens dog