Our team

Small but perfectly formed, our team is a fundamental part of the work we do and the results we achieve at Balance. The experience, knowledge and skills contribute to us achieving our aims and objectives and ensure we drive the organisation forward. Quite simply we are making a difference – lowering the impact and cost of alcohol across the region.


Colin Shevills


His knowledge, experience, passion and communication expertise really allow Colin to lead from the front - driving home the message that alcohol is damaging our region and calling for changes which will make a positive impact on the health and wealth of the region. A former communications consultant, he has extensive experience working in the field of public health. He previously helped to develop the brand for Fresh, Smoke Free North East and was instrumental in the successful launch of the office. He has worked at Balance since it was launched in 2009 and he has been instrumental in the growth and development of the organisation.


Susan Taylor

Partnerships Manager

Sue has a key role in our work with partners and stakeholders and brings vast experience to the organisation. She is responsible for highlighting evidence-based practice and promoting a co-ordinated response to the problems associated with alcohol misuse. Prior to her appointment, she worked in a variety of strategic and policy roles for the Home Office and Ministry of Justice, developing significant experience of the crime and health agendas and managing a range of alcohol, drug and health-related projects.


Mary Edwards

Programme Manager Alcohol Treatment

Mary takes lead responsibility for raising awareness and supporting the implementation of alcohol high impact changes, advising on and supporting the development of holistic treatment systems. Mary has a strong background knowledge and experience of working in health, addiction and education – she has worked as a health promotion specialist, taught psychology for Leeds University and established and managed a Multi Agency Drug Education Team. Prior to this she worked for the Safer Middlesbrough Partnership (having initially taken a two year secondment from the Government Office North East; where she worked as a regional advisor on drugs and young people) to set up and implement the first North East Drug Intervention Programme in Middlesbrough and then went on to take up a role as a Service Development Manager involved in the designing and commissioning of services for drug and alcohol clients.


Neil Martin

Research and Information Manager

Neil joined the team in August 2009, prior to which he was the research and information officer for Durham County Council for six years working in areas such as demographics, socio-economic issues and also crime and disorder. He is now responsible for research and analysis across the full spectrum of the alcohol agenda in order to give a more informed picture of the issues faced in the North East.


Ian Butler

Crime and Disorder Programme Manager

Ian, a serving police officer, joined the team in May 2014 on secondment from Durham Constabulary. Ian has worked in a wide variety of roles throughout County Durham and Darlington, including Response Policing, Neighbourhood Policing, and Business Change. Ian has extensive experience of partnership working at operational, tactical and strategic levels; in particular within local government with in County Durham and through inter-force collaboration across the North East police services. In addition, he has led on a number of national and regionally supported business change programmes within the police service. Ian’s most recent posting was as a Neighbourhood Chief Inspector for the West Locality of County Durham, where he oversaw the coordination and delivery of all policing services to communities in that area. Ian is a nationally accredited public order commander, having first hand command experience at a wide range of local and national public events.


Lesley Thompson

PA to the director

Lesley is one of the original members of the Balance team, having joined prior to the Darlington office’s opening. Her main responsibilities are supporting Colin and ensuring the smooth running of the Balance office on a day-to-basis. Lesley comes from a predominantly health care background, having previously worked for over 18 years in the NHS/private health sector, followed by 2 years as PA to the CEO of one of Teesside’s larger companies before returning to the NHS.


Allyson Peele

Administrative Assistant

Allyson joined the Balance team in April 2009 and brings with her a wealth of administrative experience, having worked in the public sector, most recently as an Administrator for the VTS.