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Woodwise Academy | Didac

Our people

See below to meet our wonderful team.

Martin James - Founder, Director
Martin James - Founder, Director
Martin started the business back in 1997 to provide skills training in the furniture and woodworking industry. Since then he's worked hard in building his vision to create a place where students can learn skills for their chosen careers. Martin is a Chartered Engineer gained through a BSc in Production Engineering gained at Brunel University during his formative years sponsored by G Plan. Since then, he gained an MBA from Cranfield whist on the board of Rye Machinery, which lead into the role of Managing Director. Since 2000, Martin has held a variety of executive and non-executive roles in industry, working internationally in and around furniture and woodworking manufacturing and distribution. He continues to contribute at a national level to skills development in a variety of forums including FIESTA; and having passed on executive leadership to Gavin and Elaine, he focusses on governance at Didac as well as continuing to provide specialist advice on the skills learnt during his early career. In his spare time, he is a keen fly fisherman.
Elaine Stanley - Operations Director
Elaine Stanley - Operations Director
Elaine joined Didac in 2008. She is our Operations Director, and a big part of the business. She wears many hats at Didac, including looking after our staff, managing our apprenticeship processes, student enrolment/support for the study programme, as well as many other things. In her spare time she enjoys going out with her husband, family, friends and most importantly, her dog, Bailey.
Gavin Lewis - Managing Director
Gavin Lewis - Managing Director
Gavin joined Didac in 2018. He is our Managing Director with nearly 20 years in the education sector. Gavin is committed to ensuring learners receive the best educational experiences, setting them up for success in their chosen careers. He has been instrumental in creating and implementing innovative training curriculums at Didac. He oversees the delivery team and our training programmes to ensure we provide the best learning possible. Under his guidance, Didac has seen improved success rates and a transformative improvement in the quality of our training programs. In his spare time, he enjoys time with his young family and occasionally enjoys kayaking when he gets the chance.
Annalise Morris - Office Manager
Annalise Morris - Office Manager
Annalise is our Office Manager. She joined Didac in 2016 as the Furniture and Wood training co-ordinator, and has since been promoted to Office Manager in 2022. In her spare time, she loves jumping on a plane with her husband and travelling to all corners of the globe!
Jack Stanley - Business & Data Support Officer
Jack Stanley - Business & Data Support Officer
Jack is our Business & Data Support Officer, who joined Didac in 2019. He came to us as a Business Administrator apprentice, and after successfully passing this he got offered a full time role. He manages all the End Point Assessment processes for our apprentices, as well as being a part of the finance team. In his spare time you will find him supporting Bristol City FC.
Kevin Foley - Industrial Trainer
Kevin Foley - Industrial Trainer
Kevin is one of our ITSSAR accredited industrial trainers, joining us in 2015. Although based around the Corby area, Kev travels all over the UK delivering plant equipment training. In his spare time he enjoys keeping up with the latest sport news!
David Farrell - Industrial Trainer
David Farrell - Industrial Trainer
David is one of our ITSSAR accredited industrial trainers, who joined us in 2016. Although mainly based in the Swindon area, Dave does also travel to many parts of the UK delivering plant equipment training. In his spare time he loves listening to his soul records.
Mark Stevens - Health & Safety Unit Lead
Mark Stevens - Health & Safety Unit Lead
Mark joined the Didac team in 2009,he is our Health and Safety lead. He started his career as an apprenticed bench joiner. His career within the timber and woodworking industry led to progression through manufacturing to include workplace supervision, production management, capacity planning, materials procurement, environmental, security, fire risk management and Health and Safety. The latter role becoming his career focus. Mark has over 30 years of experience in the wood and timber sector. He holds the NEBOSH General Certificate and Diploma in Occupational Safety and Health and has maintained continuing professional development for over 20 years as a TechIOSH member. When not travelling to all areas of the UK assisting clients with health and safety support, Mark likes to spend time with his family, travel to new locations, cycling, walking and above all relaxing!
Shane Stenning - Furniture & Wood Curriculum Manager
Shane Stenning - Furniture & Wood Curriculum Manager
Shane started at Didac in 2015. Based in and around Bristol, Shane was one of our Furniture and Wood trainers, and recently got promotion to F&W Curriculum Manager. He oversees the running of our Woodwise Academy workshop and Furniture & Wood apprenticeships. In his spare time he works hard to build up his own business as well as spending time with his wife and 2 young sons.
Paul Odams - Furniture & Wood Commercial Manager
Paul Odams - Furniture & Wood Commercial Manager
Paul started at Didac in 2014. Based around Nottingham, Paul is one of our Furniture and Wood trainers delivering both apprenticeship training and commercial training. He recently accepted the promotion to F&W Commercial Manager as well. Paul has over 30 years experience in the industry, and has even trained abroad on occasions!
Ray Fearon - Furniture & Wood Trainer
Ray Fearon - Furniture & Wood Trainer
Based around the Bristol area, Ray is one of our Furniture and Wood trainers. He delivers Woodworking Machine Training to companies both on their site and at our academy based in Bristol. In his spare time, he enjoys trying new restaurants with his 2 children, as well as playing badminton and table tennis with his family.
Gary Bosher - Furniture & Wood Trainer
Gary Bosher - Furniture & Wood Trainer
Gary joined Didac in 2017. Based in the London area, he is one of our Furniture and Wood trainers. He delivers commercial training courses to customers on their site. In his spare time, he's kept busy with his wife, children and grandchildren.
Jack Sirl - Furniture & Wood Trainer
Jack Sirl - Furniture & Wood Trainer
Jack joined Didac in 2018. Starting off on our Study Programme group when he was 16, Jack completed this course and impressed the trainers so much we took him on as an apprentice where he completed his Wood Machining qualification. After this, he went on to gain full time employment with us and is now one of our Furniture and Wood trainers. He mainly delivers apprenticeship training, but occasionally delivers commercial courses as well. In his spare time he enjoys making the most of life with his girlfriend and friends, as well as attempting to complete an A-Z list of holidays abroad!
Mark Greening - Furniture & Wood Trainer / CNC Trainer
Mark Greening - Furniture & Wood Trainer / CNC Trainer
Mark joined Didac in 2023. Based in the midlands, Mark is one of our Furniture and Wood trainers. He delivers commercial training, as well as being our main CNC trainer. In his spare time he likes getting out on his motorbike, and when abroad - cliff jumping!
Gemma Bennett - Furniture & Wood Desk Top Coach
Gemma Bennett - Furniture & Wood Desk Top Coach
Gemma has been in the trade/construction industry for over 10 years as well as previously having delivered various apprenticeship standards. She is now our Desk Top Coach for the Furniture and Wood team. In her spare time she is busy setting off seeing many parts of the world with her partner.
Katie Shiels - Lead Professional Development Internal Quality Assurer
Katie Shiels - Lead Professional Development Internal Quality Assurer
Katie joined Didac in 2017. Based in and around the Devon area, Katie joined as one of our Professional Development trainers. Since welcoming her daughter into the world in 2021, she has since been promoted to P&D Internal Quality Assurer. Katie began her career as an apprentice herself. Her experience in many areas, such as hospitality, warehouse, retail, then brought her to train as an NVQ assessor in 2009. Since then she's fuelled her passion to work in further education, delivering courses in customer service and business administration, as well as employability workshops. In her spare time she loves nothing more than to spend time with her husband and daughter. Fun fact about Katie - she's visited New York 4 times! And one day hopes to take her daughter there too.
Jon Hodgkins - Professional Development Trainer & Internal Quality Assurer
Jon Hodgkins - Professional Development Trainer & Internal Quality Assurer
Jon joined Didac in 2021. Jon, based in the midlands, is one of our Professional Development trainers delivering apprenticeship training. As well as this, he is one of our internal quality assurers. Jon's background includes experience in trade counter and warehouse management. Away from work Jon loves spending time with his young son and has competed two charity parachute jumps to raise money for Cancer Research!
Illiasse Naji - Professional Development Trainer
Illiasse Naji - Professional Development Trainer
Illiasse joined Didac in 2023. Based in the South, Illiasse is one of our Professional Development trainers delivering apprenticeship training. In his spare time, he's kept busy being on father duties!
Neil Hastings - Professional Development Trainer
Neil Hastings - Professional Development Trainer
Neil joined the team in 2022. Based in and around the Manchester area, Neil is one of our Professional Development trainers delivering training to our apprentices. In his spare time, he enjoys relaxing at his family's home in Spain and coaching Rugby.
Sharon Chesser - Professional Development Trainer
Sharon Chesser - Professional Development Trainer
Sharon joined Didac in 2019. Sharon is one of our Professional Development trainers, based in the North. She delivers training to learners undergoing an apprenticeship in many standards such as Customer Service, Warehouse, Fitted Furniture Design Technician. In her spare time, she loves to spend time with her family, especially her niece and nephew. As well as gardening and growing some of her own fruit and vegetables.
Robert Wilcockson - Professional Development Trainer
Robert Wilcockson - Professional Development Trainer
Rob joined Didac in 2019. Based in Essex, he covers the London area as well as Sussex, East Anglia and Cambridge as one of our Professional Development apprenticeship trainers. The best part of the job for Rob is seeing people succeed in their apprenticeship, gaining good grades from it and going on to start their career well. Before he joined our team, Rob worked with Royal Mail for 25 years delivering post and operating forklifts. After that he decided he wanted to work in education and started delivering apprenticeship training to 16 - 18 year old students with additional needs. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren as well as supporting Southend United.
Maxine Rhodes - Professional Development Trainer
Maxine Rhodes - Professional Development Trainer
Maxine joined Didac in 2022. She is one of our Professional Development trainers, based in and around the Yorkshire area. She delivers training to learners undergoing an apprenticeship in Supply Chain Warehouse, Customer Service and Fitted Furniture Design Technician. In her spare time, she enjoys horse racing and spending time with her partner and two grown up sons on a weekend. She's also a keen football supporter, following Sheffield United. She's loves to travel and try different cuisines!
Philip Eagan - Professional Development Trainer
Philip Eagan - Professional Development Trainer
Phil joined Didac in 2022. He is one of our Professional Development trainers, based in and around the Dover area. He delivers training to learners undergoing an apprenticeship in Customer Service, Warehouse and Fitted Furniture Design Technician. In his spare time, he's kept busy with his hobbies such as running, painting and playing the guitar.