Board Member Profile Linda McHugh

1. Could you tell us a bit about your professional career?

I recently retired after 18 years as a senior civil servant. During that time, I had a number of roles including Director of Urban Regeneration Policy, Principal Private Secretary to the First Minister, Director of Water and Drainage Policy and Director of Corporate Support Services in the Department for Infrastructure (DfI). I also led the Local Government Reform Programme, turning 26 Councils into 11 and transferring a number of responsibilities from central to local government. 

Prior to joining the Civil Service, I was CEO of two organisations which supported the textiles and clothing sector – the NI Textiles & Apparel Association and the Irish Linen Guild. I also spent 11 years as a Trustee of the Meningitis Research Foundation representing the interests of Northern Ireland and bringing marketing expertise to the Board.

I was recently appointed to the Board of Tourism NI as a non-executive Director. 

2. Could you explain why you decided to join the RYANI board?

When I retired, I wanted to use some of my spare time volunteering to give something back to the community. I live by the sea and understand the important role that sailing and other water sports play in supporting coastal communities, so the RYA (NI) was a good fit for me.

 3. What do you hope to focus on in your role on the board?

My focus will be on finance and governance in the organisation. With my professional background, I believe that I will be able to bring knowledge and expertise in financial management, dealing with the requirements of managing government grants and lobbying. 

4. Do you have any background in sailing?

I am originally from Co Fermanagh and spent my youth boating on Lough Erne. When my family moved to Strangford Lough, we took up sailing and I qualified as a Day Skipper. Sadly, my dad had to sell his yacht when his health started to fail and I haven‘t sailed in quite a while. I occasionally go kayaking with friends and I am a keen cold water swimmer, so I am still very much connected with the Lough. 

5. What are you most excited about in joining the board?

I am excited about applying my skills in a new environment that will be very different from the Civil Service  and supporting the great work of the RYA in Northern Ireland.  

6. What do you think is the key priority for the sport going forward?

A key priority will be improving access to the sport for all parts of the community, in particular increasing participation amongst young people.