Windmills – a dynamic and energised community of fresh thinking, innovation and practical solutions

The heart of Windmills is a close-knit team of experienced, passionate and open-minded professionals led by Dr Peter Hawkins and Helen Wakefield.

This team is supported by a wider community of Windmills Champions from all different sectors and geographically spread. We currently have X champions.




  • Core Team
    Our Core Team consists of the following people:

    Dr Peter Hawkins

    Peter leads a rich and diverse life through a portfolio of working, learning, playing and giving. Working together with Helen Wakefield, Co-Director of Windmills, Peter has enjoyed creating, developing and delivering a dynamic portfolio of Windmills resources and programmes for clients ranging from Tesco, and the Co-operative Group to the Association of Graduate Recruiters and Volunteering England.  He has written seven books including Boosting Your Career Prospects, the Art of Building Windmills and No Regrets on Sunday.  Peter has spoken internationally on personal, career and life management issues, releasing potential of tens of thousands of participants including academics at Harvard University, career professionals at the University of Cape Town, global employers with the Corporate Research Forum and policy makers at the European Commission. Learning from the ups and downs of life, Peter has a PhD in Industrial Management and an Engineering Degree from the University of Liverpool, and is an NLP Master Practitioner.  His experience of dealing with poor eyesight, unemployment and inventing numerous social ventures and charities has proved even more valuable to this personal growth. Playing forms an important aspect of his life.  Peter is a passionate Stoke City supporter, keen runner and enthusiastic singer, (some would say too enthusiastic!!). Taking Fun Fridays off, working close to home and being flexible with work patterns allows Peter to regularly walk his three sons to and from school and enjoy being part of the local community. Giving something back has always provided Peter with meaning and purpose.   Over the past 25 years has been a volunteer and leader for the Thursday Club, a charity for adults with learning difficulties.  He is Chair of Governors at Princes Primary School, a magical Toxteth based learning environment for pupils with complex needs. Peter is an active advocate for people with disabilities, regular volunteer speaker at charity events and co-creator of the Windmills Foundation.

    Helen Wakefield

    Helen’s skills, talents, passion and enthusiasm have helped form Windmills and the Foundation into the diverse, creative and exciting organisations they are today. Her early career with Windmills saw her and her fellow Director Pete Hawkins play the crucial role of establishing the business, determining its mission and values and creating a culture of “going the extra mile” that its clients and partners benefit from today. She takes great delight in developing new projects with new clients although she says the old clients are also just as good and are often now friends as well. It is in this area that she feels she has the closest match to her prime skills and passions – where people, exploring and creative skills overlap. Helen works closely with Pete, Jason, Sharon and Champions in the Windmills community to create new programmes and continue to innovate and grow the portfolio. Prior to Windmills she worked with Marks and Spencer in both commercial and learning and development roles before then moving to project based work at the University of Liverpool. She has an MA in Human Resource Development, is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, a qualified coach and NLP Master Practitioner. She is committed to her volunteer roles as a counsellor for Childline, and member of her local church, co-ordinating a house group. With her family growing up and moving on she is increasingly getting the chance to revel in her interests of travel, reading,  eating out, walking, and learning whenever and wherever she can

    Sharon Nicholson

    Sharon is passionate about helping people ‘be all they can be’ and is especially keen to get this message out to young people.  She enjoys working with people on a one to one and group basis – encouraging them to think positively about their future and their potential. Sharon has been engaged with Windmills from the early days at the University of Liverpool.  She was delighted to join Windmills Ltd in 2009 and continues to play a key role in the new team, developing and delivering the Windmills Champions Programme for a range of different clients. She really enjoys working with clients to develop their project and design their Champions’ Programme.  Sharon is keen to extend the impact of the Windmills approach to everyone, everywhere and is always looking for creative ways to bring the Windmills resources to life in a workshop setting. Helping Champions develop the skills and confidence to work with the Windmills resources gives her a great opportunity to achieve those aims. A learning and development professional with over 20 years experience, Sharon is also a qualified coach and NLP Master Practitioner. She really enjoys playing the bagpipes with a local Pipe Band.  Concentrating on remembering the tunes is a great way to switch off. She has recently achieved a personal goal to play solo in public - not one to shy away from a challenge – to an audience of 200 people! Married with, 2 teenage children she works hard on her WLPG blend to create as much quality family time as they and their busy social lives will allow.

    Suzanne Sweeney    

    Suzanne is the most recent member to join the team at Windmills and brings a range of new and exciting skills and experience to add to the rich diversity of the core team players. Suzanne has worked in the field of public health and health promotion for over 17 years in both Devon and Merseyside. Combining her experience with Local Authorities, the NHS and health charity sector, Suzanne is passionate about helping to reduce health inequalities throughout the population and help everyone reach their true potential in life. She is particular passionate about creating better opportunities for the most vulnerable and marginalised, especially children and young people and highlighting the hardships many have to overcome on a daily basis in order to lead a resilient life. Suzanne has specialised in tobacco control, physical activity and wellbeing. Over the past six years, Suzanne supported, and then led on the Sub-regional development of health policy and management of initiatives at a local strategic partnership level. This was achieved through advocacy, social marketing, research and training.  Previous to this Suzanne was responsible for conception and pioneering of what is now the ‘Active Sefton’ scheme for the local area population. Suzanne had the opportunity to take a career break in 2001 where she went to Australia to study Pastoral Ministry and Counselling with her husband, at Hillsong International Leadership College and Church. After the birth of their daughter in Australia in 2004 and on returning to the UK, Suzanne has continued to be involved in church life in a voluntary capacity particularly children’s ministry, which she finds extremely rewarding. Suzanne is a keen cyclist and continues to enjoy an active lifestyle and bike rides with her daughter. She enjoys catching up with friends over coffee, visiting new places and DIY.  She has also been known to be partial to strawberries, champagne and a good ‘boogie’ on the dance floor!

    Jason Powell

    Jason has been involved in Windmills from the start. His creative and innovative design is incorporated from the early days of The Art of Building Windmills to his most recent contributions with The Windmills Foundation’s, Smile £10 Challenge. As part of the team at Alexander Macgregor and now as an independent graphic designer, Jason’s unique and creative approach to the visual elements of the Windmills portfolio has had a significant contribution to receiving the positive feedback it does from the clients who use it. Beyond his technical skills Jason is also part of the creative process that the Windmills team engages in at the start of any new project and scheme. Scoping out initial ideas, exploring different approaches to getting the key messages that the team want to promote and ensuring that every new addition to the portfolio is capable of being seen as part of the wider family of Windmills resources are all part of what Jason brings to the process. You can’t fail to take some of the key Windmills messages on board and for Jason he has embraced a portfolio career in order to combine his interests and passions. Jase also therefore runs a highly successful longbow shop – yes indeed he has won awards for his ability to pull the bow. And he is also to be seen in an image in WLPG playing and singing in his band – music is another huge passion and also field of work as he designs and edits...

    Helen Hawkins

    Helen Hawkins is particularly enthusiastic about Windmills delivery and development work as a result of her 20 years experience working in people development at Liverpool NHS, Boots Healthcare services and leading a SME. As a qualified careers advisor, Helen is passionate about inspiring young people and has pioneered a novel primary school programme based on the work Windmills has developed using STAR to engage parents as head teachers of their child's curriculum..

  • Supporters
    Our Champions and partners form the core of our Supporters – read more about them and their role in the Champions network Colette O’Brien Training and Development Manager CfBT Advice and Guidance Colette is the Training and Development Manager for the National Careers Service in the North East, employed by CfBT Advice and Guidance, the Prime Contractor for this contract. Colette came across Windmills about ten years ago when the Windmills team were disseminating their career management tools as part of a project with the National Learning and Skills Council.  As a Careers practitioner in County Durham at the time, the team of advisers she worked with felt that the tools would be suitable to help in one-to-one and group based Careers Information, Advice and Guidance activities on a whole range of career related issues to adults aged 18 and over. More recently Colette has again engaged with the Windmills team by training as a champion with her colleagues to utilise further aspects of the portfolio and support the clients group they work with. Of the Windmills resources, the team and the Windmills approach Colette says:Our advisers have loved being able to use the Windmills resources with customers.  They have used them successfully in one to one interviews and in groups, with some very positive feedback from customers.  They particularly like using the Skills cards and the Golden Ticket exercises.   The training and ongoing support we have received from the Windmills Team has been first class.  Helen and Sharon are always on hand for questions and advice where necessary.   We now have a waiting list of advisers wanting to train in the use of the resources, so I will soon be booking the Windmills Team for more training this autumn.   Charlene Binding Career Development Lead East Midlands Local Education and Training Board Charlene has been a Champion for seven years, having first come across Windmills at a CIAG event where she engaged in activities from Windmills that she believed would support the Doctors she worked with. Recognising changes in the world of medical careers and the need for Foundation Doctors to engage with some high quality, innovative and creative ways of reflecting on their career direction and next steps, Charlene approached Windmills to become a champion and build capacity within the team she managed. Seven years on Charlene now regularly supports hundreds of doctors each year. She has expanded the original programme of materials and workshops into more specialised areas such as doctors wishing to re-evaluate their career direction due to personal circumstances/ill health as well as working more widely with medical students in the LETB’s two partner medical schools (Leicester and Nottingham), and doctors in training of all grades along with their educators throughout the East Midlands region. She has also trained further Champions not only in East Midlands but in their partner medical training organisation in Malta. Of Windmills and what she has benefitted from both personally and professionally she says...... ‘I continue to benefit from Windmills in so many ways: in terms of how I think, how I feel and how I act both in my personal and professional life. So I guess it’s not just about ‘doing’ Windmills, it’s a lifestyle choice too. As an organisation, we continue to develop our programme of activities using Windmills in a variety of innovative and creative ways and we continue to appreciate the relationship we have with Helen, Pete and colleagues in the Windmills team. The Windmills ethos also fits closely with our values as a learning organisation and we are extremely proud to be associated with Windmills.’    Anthony Standing Head of Regional Operations North Skills Development Scotland Anthony has been a long-standing supporter of Windmills. Working for Skills Development Scotland, Anthony first encountered Windmills when Windmills worked in partnership with SDS on an innovative programme of support for young people called I-Hero. This utilised the STAR resources combined with other online activities and tools to engage S8 & S9 students in schools in the Highlands and Islands to reflect on their educational choices.Anthony trained as a Champion to utilise the wider tool-kit of Windmills resources with the project and work that SDS supported in the North of Scotland. He then became heavily involved in two further projects that Windmills collaborated on:1)      The Rich-Task projects which engaged young people to explore their futures and add value to the work they were doing in schools with additional project experiences 2)      The Kinloss closure when utilising No Regrets on Sunday, champions in the locality were trained to offer support in the closure process for those involved     Julie Holden Managing Director – Smart Development Solutions   Julie became a Windmills Champions when she worked for Liverpool Victoria and engaged in a capacity building programme with them. She saw the potential to maximise her skills and passions not only in work related to LV but in supporting young people and their career aspirations. Fuelled by this she set up Smart Development Solutions and offered a range of support for local schools including the Windmills STAR resource aimed at young people determining their Skills, Treasures, Ambitions and Roles in life. 4 years on Julie has extended her portfolio of support for schools further and has collaborated further with LV to help fulfil their CSR commitments within the local Bournemouth and surrounding areas. Of Windmills and what she has benefitted from both personally and professionally she says..... The STAR programme has been a brilliant resource for me to help students understand more about themselves and what they want to achieve in the future.  Combining this programme with sponsorship from a local company not only enables schools to provide a programme they would not ordinarily be able to fund, but also give the students access to employees who tell the students about their own personal career journey.  Combining real life stories is so beneficial for the students, and the employees who support these programmes gain personal development and real sense of helping the young people consider their futures. A Win:Win all round!
  • Our Wider Community
    This consists of those individuals who have signed up to our newsletter, attended one of our events or have been on one of our or our partner’s programmes. See how to Join this wider Windmills Community