Directors of the Gatliff Hebridean Hostels Trust


Peter has been chairman of the Gatliff Hebridean Hostels Trust since 2007.

Peter started youth hostelling when he was at school. He first visited the Outer Hebrides in 1973 whilst a postgraduate student, staying at Rhenigidale (where he met John Joyce) and Howmore. He returned the following year to spend more time at Howmore. Shortly afterwards he met Herbert Gatliff for the first time to discuss his PhD research on agricultural smallholdings.

Peter became a Trustee of the Gatliff Trust in 1980 and served as Hebrides Secretary of the Gatliff Trust from 1983 to 1988. In that capacity he founded the Hebridean Hostellers to create a link between Trust and its supporters. This proved to be the fore-running to the Gatliff Hebridean Hostels Group.   Peter was Secretary of the Gatliff Trust from 2000 to 2006. He became Chairman in 2006 upon Frank Martin’s retirement. He represented the Gatliff Trust on the National Council of the SYHA from 2007 until its abolition in July 2013.

Peter became a Trustee of the Gatliff Hebridean Hostels Trust upon its foundation. He served as Vice Chair from 1988 to 1991, Chair from 1991 to 2001 and Vice Chair from 2001 to 2007. He also acted as its first Membership Secretary of the GHHT until the mid-1990s and subsequently from 2000 to date. Peter has also had a couple of short spells as Treasurer. He was appointed as Company Secretary of the GHHT in 2009 as a stop gap but remains in that post.

Peter served on the National Executive Committee of the YHA for five years (1994 to 1999) and on its Countryside Committee for six years for the first three years under the chairmanship of Frank Martin.

In professional life Peter is an analyst, writer and author. His company, Severne Ltd carry out surveys on the use of information technology in the public sector. His book, The Outer Hebrides – the Timeless Way was published in January 2006 and is still in print. He also writes and lectures on agricultural smallholdings, food security & the sustainability of UK agriculture.


Stuart has always been an enthusiast for travelling and outdoor activities. Having left school at sixteen to do an apprenticeship in electronics he subsequently did a degree in physics, including spending a year at the University of California where he often visited the Sierra Nevada mountains and other national parks on backpacking or climbing trips. After completing a Ph.D in astronomy he went to work for the British Antarctic Survey as a meteorologist, spending two years at Halley Research Station. Since returning to the UK Stuart has been employed as a scientist in the civil service. Stuart first visited the Outer Hebrides on a cycling holiday in 2005 and has returned regularly since then, more recently volunteering on some of the work parties organised by John Joyce. Stuart is currently Treasurer of the Gatliff Hebridean Hostels Trust.


John is a retired school teacher turned magazine editor and journalist. A Gatliff trustee since 2007 and a trustee of GHHT since 2003. John was born in Bristol in 1943, educated at Cotham Grammar School and graduated from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. For most of his working life he taught English at Culford School, Bury St Edmunds, and was a Housemaster there for 21 years. He became the School’s Registrar with responsibilities for admissions, marketing and publicity.

Following retirement in 2003, John continued writing professionally and he is now a freelance editor and journalist. This includes producing corporate newsletters as well as regular assignments for the bi-monthly magazine, Scottish Islands Explorer of which he is proprietor. John joined the GHHT soon after visiting the Hostels in the mid-1980s. The Crofters’ hostels interested him because they were delightfully distinctive – remote and remarkable places that attracted responsive visitors. John became the Editor of Hebridean Hostellers’ Newsletter in 2002 and was responsible for the launch of the Trusts’ web site,


John is a retired school teacher who now works as a consultant. A Gatliff trustee since 1977, a trustee of the GHHT from 1988 to 1994 and since 2008. After leaving school at sixteen, John completed nine years work mostly in banking and insurance before going to Aston University where he gained an MSc in Applied Psychology.  During this period he developed his interest in cycling, walking in the countryside, exploring the more wild open spaces and mountains, travelling and caving.  John started hostelling in the 1960s and was a YHA Regional Committee member where he met Herbert.  Herbert encouraged him to get involved with the Gatliff Trust.  After graduating John worked for the Virgin group in record exporting and video retailing before settling down to married and family life in the eighties.

John organised work parties and renovations at the Hebridean Hostels and served as Chairman of the GHHT at its foundation.  After leaving the record business John re-trained as a primary school teacher and has since spent over 20 years in education.  He became science co-ordinator at his school and, most recently, a home tutor for the local education authority.  In 1994 John and his family spent a year travelling around the world.  Throughout his life he has had a fascination for writing, music, art, film, photography and gardening.  He runs marathons and does yoga to maintain an active life. John’s objective is to see that the Trust develops and maintains its hostels in the foreseeable future in a changing environment, whilst maintaining their sociability and simple ethos.


Philip served on committees of the Scottish Youth Hostels Association at District and National level from 1961 onwards and was National Chairman from 1980 until 2001. He is now Hon. President of the SYHA. Philip was President of the European Union Federation of YHAs from 1990 to 2001 and a Board member and Vice President of the International Youth Hostel Federation from 1994 to 2002. Philip joined the Board of GHHT when it was formed in 1988.

Philip lives in Fife but has been visiting the Hebrides since 1960. Philip is a lifelong hill-walker and is currently Hon Vice President and Board member of the Scottish Rights of Way and Access Society. He was appointed a Trustee of the Gatliff Trust in 2003.


Dave Matthews is well known in youth hostelling circles, having worked for 25 years as the YHA’s Regional Secretary for Wales and for many more years in a voluntary capacity with the YHA both before and after his time as a YHA employee. Dave was made a Vice President of YHA Wales in 1997.

During his time as a member of the YHA National Council representative in the 1960s Dave met Herbert Gatliff, who was a great inspiration and recognised the value of small, simple hostels. During his time as Regional Secretary many new Hostels were opened. Quite a few were small simple hostels established by volunteers on “shoe string” budgets. During the time Dave met and became friends with Frank Martin who was active in developing small hostels in Wales and in forestry issues. It was Frank in particular who encouraged Dave to secure Dolgoch from the Forestry Commission as a hostel. (Now run by the Elenydd Wilderness Hostels Trust.)

Dave first visited the Outer Hebrides in 1982 to help look after a 50 strong party of Scouts from Cardiff. He fell in love with the Islands and was back with his wife, son and daughter in 1984 on a cycle tour. In 1991 he joined Frank Martin on a journey there, visiting all three GHHT hostels. He became a GHHT Trustee in 2013.


Julian Paren spent his professional life as a glaciologist working in Greenland, Arctic Canada, and the Antarctic, ultimately becoming Head of Information at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge. In retirement he chose to live on the Black Isle with its easy access to the west coast and islands of Scotland. After a visit to Kinlochresort in 1964, he met Herbert Gatliff when he was interested in opening a hostel in North Harris. With his wife and family he has visited all the Gatliff Hostels since 1986, the year he became a member of the Hebridean Hostellers. He became a Trustee in 2013.

In retirement Julian has been an Open University tutor in oceanography, an associate lecturer in climate and Antarctic science for the University of Cambridge, and a Trustee of the Trans-Antarctic Association and the British Antarctic Monument Trust. Julian is a Director of Transition Black Isle, and member of the John Muir Trust, National Trust for Scotland and the Scottish Wildlife Trust. He also contributes to the nationwide Geograph project with its role to provide imagery from every square km of the British Isles.