Leadership team

Chief Executive

Ian Wardle

Ian Portrait

Ian joined Thirteen as our Chief Executive in 2016. The first ten years of his career were spent in the private sector and the last ten years in local government. Ian started his career in Middlesbrough as a graduate trainee at George Wimpey (now Taylor Wimpey) later becoming a land negotiator, land manager and development director. He was then a project director for the Sunniside Regeneration Project in Sunderland.

Moving into local government, he joined Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, as Head of Regeneration Services, later becoming Director of Regeneration Services with responsibility for a range of front-line and corporate services, as well as the delivery of large capital regeneration projects.

Before joining Thirteen, Ian was Managing Director of Reading Borough Council with responsibility for delivering hundreds of services across the town, while making substantial savings and managing 2,500 colleagues with a turnover of £480m per year.

Ian is responsible for leading Thirteen, overseeing the implementation of board decisions, progress towards meeting corporate objectives and ensuring the business continues to move in the right direction.

Ian has held a number of non-executive and trustee roles for a housing association, university, community interest company, a charity and a school. Ian is currently a board member for the Northern Housing Consortium.

Executive Director of Resources

Heather Ashton

Heather Ashton

Heather is responsible for the group’s business change and improvement functions including corporate affairs (communications, influencing, impact, research, policy and insight), IT, people (HR, OD, reward and recognition) cyber and data compliance.

Heather has worked in the quasi-public sector for the last 15 years in both housing and higher education. She has many years of commercial experience in both the retail and manufacturing sectors.

Having qualified as an accountant a number of years ago, she also holds a Diploma in Company Direction from the Institute of Directors and is a Chartered Member of the CIH.

Executive Director of Business Growth

Chris Smith

Chris Smith

Chris leads on business growth for Thirteen, which includes identifying and developing bids and securing new business ventures, contracts, partnerships and commissioned/contracted services, and working with partners to create housing and service solutions for their housing, support and care needs.

Chris also focuses on strategic partnerships with Homes England, local authorities, health organisations, universities, and the community and voluntary sector. The team also leads on the physical shaping of neighbourhoods and optimisation of our services and products around our existing homes, new homes and neighbourhoods, including community development/social regeneration.

Chris is a board member of the Northern Housing Consortium and the Health and Wellbeing Board in Middlesbrough. She is a director of the arcc consortium, a company set up to run the Transforming Rehabilitation contract on behalf of the Ministry of Justice.

Executive Director of Assets

Russell Thompson

Russell Thompson

Russell focuses on property compliance, asset optimisation, investment planning and delivery. Russell also leads our environmental management programme, focusing on decarbonisation, sustainability and climate change adaptation. The team also leads our facilities management. 

Russell has a wide range of experience having worked on major projects with a variety of companies and public sector organisations throughout his career. This covers property services, large organisational change and consultancy support for organisations across the country.

Executive Director of Customer Services

David Ripley

David Ripley

David's role is to focus on customer experience, including neighbourhood operations, repairs and support services, ensuring these services meet customers’ housing and support needs and going beyond to really delight our customers. 

We'll have more details about David and his role soon.

Chief Financial Officer

Jane Castor

Jane Castor

Jane manages the financial affairs and financial  strategy of Thirteen, leads on governance and acts as company secretary.

Jane is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and has a wealth of financial, commercial and governance experience gained in the public and private sector.

Before joining Thirteen, Jane worked at Homes England and its predecessor bodies for the last 16 years, most recently as Finance Director with responsibility for multi-billion pound annual budgets and balance sheet. 

Jane is from Teesside and is keen to ensure that we optimise the efficient use of resources to have a positive impact on customers.

Managing Director of Thirteen Developments

Craig Taylor

Craig Taylor

Craig brings together the previous Affordable Homes Delivery Team, Thirteen Homes and Gus Robinson Developments into one Development Team. The team supports the delivery of new affordable homes, shared ownership, market sale, and independent living schemes. 

The team provides construction services for other organisations and operates through our brands of Thirteen, Thirteen Homes and Gus Robinson Developments.  Steve Bell, MD of Gus Robinson Developments, oversees all construction within Thirteen Group and for Gus Robinson Developments.

Craig has over 20 years commercial development experience across a number of private sector industries, but predominantly and latterly within housing. His core area of expertise is sourcing, acquiring and developing land assets.

Craig graduated from Northumbria University with a BSc (hons) in Construction Management before undertaking an MSc in Real Estate and Property Management from Salford.