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Saturday: 9am - 5pm
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Bank Hols: 10am - 4pm

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Trustees appoint the Chief Executive who with five directors is charged with delivering YHA’s plans to achieve the object and bring to life our vision of reaching out and enhancing the lives of young people. 

Chief Executive - James Blake

James Blake - YHA CEOI’m a geographer by background, working as a postgraduate on sustainable development in the countryside before spending ten years in national Government working on a wide range of issues including social inclusion, followed by a move into local government. I was Chief Executive of the District Council in St Albans for nearly five years before joining YHA in July 2017. The parallels which will stand me in good stead here at YHA include having to juggle the need to generate revenue in a really competitive environment with delivering real public benefit and impact.

I’ve had a long affinity with YHA, from teenage travels in the Lake District, through to using YHA for groups when I was president of my university hill-walking club, and now travelling around England and Wales with my family. I was also a YHA Trustee for over 12 years, ending in 2014, and more recently I’ve been involved with the exciting YHA London Stratford project. So I’ve seen at first hand YHA’s transformation over the last few years, and am delighted to now be heading up the fantastic organisation that is YHA today.


Director of Finance and IT - William Howarth

William Howarth - Director of Finance and IT YHAI'm a qualified accountant with over 15 years senior management experience.  I was Finance Director at Ladybird Books before spending eight years with the BBC in Factual TV productions.

I'm responsible for Finance and IT and work closely with the Treasurer to ensure that YHA remains on a sound footing and is able to meet the challenges and opportunities that the future brings.

Like many people I have early memories of YHA and fondly remember some great times in hostels whilst in Venture Scouts. Outside of work I enjoy music, sport (where I have coached hockey on a voluntary basis for over 20 years) and of course travel. 


Director of Property - Jake Chalmers

Jake Chalmers - Director of Property YHAI am a Chartered Surveyor with over 18 years experience in the property industry.

My career started in commercial property moving into specialising in acquisitions and disposals for investment funds and property companies.  In 1998 I took a career break travelling extensively using hostels across the world.  On my return to the UK I joined YHA becoming Property Director in 2007. My department encompasses a wide range of responsibilities including:

Hostel Acquisitions, Disposals and Property Management
Development and Maintenance of the YHA Network
Health & Safety, Environment and Quality
Capital Fundraising and Partnerships

I am extremely fortunate to be a director of the YHA.  I work with great people who are committed to the ethos of the YHA, providing opportunities for everyone to stay at inspiring hostels, meeting new people and having life developing experiences.  The fantastic thing about the YHA is the more successful we are the greater the number of people we can help to have the YHA Experience.


Commercial Director - Joe Lynch

Joe Lynch - Director of Sales and Marketing YHAJoe is an experienced sales and marketing director specialising in the growth of youth, active, educational and multi-site businesses. He has 20 years of experience in the tourism and leisure sector, nationally and globally.

Since joining YHA in 2013 Joe has lead the transformation of the commercial function of YHA, leading an ambitious growth strategy based on E-commerce growth and harnessing the power of customer and trading data. His team have scooped up numerous industry recognition awards, including the Best Use of Social Media, Best Experiential Campaigns, Best Advertising Campaigns and the British Educational Travel Associations outstanding achievement awards.

Joe’s role now covers all of the sales, marketing, commercial and fundraising activities.

In his youth, Joe was a frequent user of the YHA, throughout the Yorkshire Dales – (even helping to build the steps up the side of Malham Cove!), and still enjoys the outdoor life; sailing, cycling and walking whenever time permits.

Joe Comments…“What a privilege to be involved in an association that offers so many opportunities and experiences to so many people. We have a tremendous opportunity now, with a hugely modernised range of hostels, a fantastic dedicated team and an ever increasing awareness of the good that the YHA does for all.”


Operations and People Director - Jerry Robinson

Jerry Robinson - Operations and People Director YHAJerry brings a wealth of accommodation/hospitality experience and expertise to YHA combined with a real passion for travel, hostels & camping, several years of volunteering (as a Business Mentor) with the Princes Trust and the recent achievement (with Distinction) of his Masters Degree (MSc) in multi-unit hospitality leadership and management. Prior to YHA, Jerry held Director roles in Alpha Airports Group, Orchid and The Spirit Group where he operated a joint venture hotel business with Premier Inn. Most recently in Greene King Plc, Jerry instigated and led the award winning Apprenticeship programme which supported over 3500 young people achieving National Apprenticeships.

In Jerry’s words “YHA is an amazing blend of delivering our charitable objectives for young people and providing first class hostel accommodation in some very special and unique locations”

Outside of work Jerry is married with one child aged 13 (who also loves YHA, hostels and camping), enjoys motorcycling, water sports and continues to research and write on hospitality management.

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