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The festival


Guitar Circus educational programmes and resources for teachers


Meet the team

Did you know that Guitar Circus is run by a dedicated team of volunteers who make up the Board of Trustees and the Management Team?

They give up much of their free time to help organise and deliver the broad spectrum of opportunities supported by Guitar Circus for young people in the field of guitar education and performance in the UK.

Helen Sanderson

CEO & Artistic Director

Helen trained at the Royal College of Music graduating with prizes including the Anthony Saltmarsh Prize and the Madeline Walton Prize for Guitar. She has performed at many of the UK’s prestigious concert venues including the Southbank Centre, King’s Place, St. Georges-Bristol and in 2010 she made her US debuts in Los Angeles and New York, subsequently touring extensively in USA, Sweden, Germany and France.

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Helen is Senior Guitar Tutor at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, the Musical Director of the NYGE London Camerata, founder and Artistic Director of the World Youth Guitar Festival and CEO of Guitar Circus. She recently appeared as the classical industry expert for the Sky Arts series, “Guitar Star” and is a sought-after masterclass artist, adjudicator and international jury member, for competitions such as BBC Young Musician of the Year. In 2017 Helen became a Winston Churchill Fellow for her work in guitar education.

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Trevor Dukes

Chair of Trustees, Chief Operating Officer & Treasurer

Trevor has a wealth of commercial experience having worked for WH Smith for over 40 years. During this time he held senior positions in the Finance, Logistics and IT departments. He has also chaired the UK and Ireland User Groups for multinational IT companies and is a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society. 

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His interest in the guitar spans a similar period and he has always been keen to promote the classical guitar especially for children. He teaches classical guitar part time at a local primary school and assists with the administration of the Corinium Players Guitar Ensemble, a group of 35 children and young adults from across the South West of England.

Since becoming a Trustee of Guitar Circus, Trevor has also taken on the role of Chief Operating Officer and successfully managed the acquisition and integration of the National Youth Guitar Ensemble into Guitar Circus. This has enabled the organisation to become the UK’s leading provider of classical guitar ensemble coaching.

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Charlie Fraser

Trustee & Safeguarding Officer

Charlie enlisted into the Army in 1978 and over the next 22 years was promoted six times attaining the rank of Warrant Officer Class 1. He was selected for a commission in 2000 and has since undertaken a variety of exacting jobs. The highlights being to command a Squadron of 180 soldiers and be promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. 

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Charlie is currently Operations Manager at the largest independent school in Cornwall which caters for over 1000 students aged between 3 – 18 on 2 sites, 3 miles apart. He is responsible for the daily running of the Sports Centre, catering department, facilities department and all support services at the Prep School. He is also the Security and Health and Safety Officer for both sites.

Charlie is an accomplished and professional manager with significant global experience and an excellent record of achievements. He sets high standards, demonstrates clear thinking, sound decision making and positive leadership qualities.

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Nigel Manley

Trustee, Operational Fundraising and Data Protection Officer

Nigel Manley is a dental surgeon by profession and has been a partner in a large successful practice in Warwickshire for over twenty years. During that time he has helped to mentor overseas post-graduate students completing masters degrees in association with Warwick University.

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In 2012 he completed a postgraduate diploma incorporating Business Studies, at Bristol University.

Nigel has been a school governor at an independent girl’s school, including Chair of its Executive Committee, for over five years, during which time the school has twice topped national league tables in England.

He has recently stepped down from the Independent Monitoring Board of a multi category prison in Worcestershire.

To fill his time further he is the treasurer of a local Stroke Association help and support group, and a local parish councillor.


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Georgina Bashford

Operations Director

Inspired by her years performing in the National Youth Guitar Ensemble and the World Youth Guitar Festival, Georgina is a passionate and energetic member of the Guitar Circus team. Her first-hand experience of everything Guitar Circus offers has given her a strong desire to be part of the development of future opportunities to expand the provision for young guitarists throughout the UK.

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Georgina was inspired to play the guitar at an early age. She has been a member of many different Guitar ensembles locally in Birmingham and also a member of the National Youth Guitar Ensemble. Georgina studied Classical Guitar at Birmingham Conservatoire, this provided many performance opportunities, and also allowed her to explore her interest in Folk Music by being part of Joe Broughton’s Conservatoire Folk Ensemble and a smaller Folk band on Guitar and Vocals.

“Whilst studying she was part of the project Bach2sport a project that believes in the value of using sports performance psychology in music Performance which she has explored in her own playing. Along side her studies at Birmingham Conservatoire she built up a career teaching Guitar in Birmingham with Services For Education – Music Service, and also provides private tuition.

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Sandra Dukes

Festival Director WYGF & Secretary to the Trustees of Guitar Circus

Sandra worked in London for the Prudential as a Management Secretary progressing to become PA to the Chief Executive.

Since leaving London she has pursued her passion for the guitar by teaching at local primary and secondary schools and in 1999 formed the Corinium Players Guitar Ensemble to encourage young guitarists to perform together. The Group has now over 30 players aged 8-18 from all over the Cotswolds as well as an adult section. 

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Sandra has been involved with the World Youth Guitar Festival since its inauguration in 2007.

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Hayley Hunt

Marketing & Communications Director

Hayley is a Brand and Communications Marketing Strategist who specialises in digital solutions to develop and grow powerful brand identity on behalf of both commercial and not-for-profit organisations. With a decade of experience working closely with CEO’s and Trustees Hayley has built an enviable record of success delivering multifaceted vibrant campaigns against both financial and charitable objectives.

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Having worked in Marketing in the Financial Services sector for more than eight years and in Culture and Leisure for two years, Hayley has a strong understanding of how to engage diverse audiences with a smooth customer journey online.

Hayley first met the Guitar Circus team as a parent of one of the ensemble members. She was so impressed with what a small team of volunteers was delivering she wanted to become involved and volunteer herself.

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Guitar Circus