Jess Prendergrast is one of the founding Directors of Onion Collective. She grew up living at the zoo her parents set up in rural West Somerset. With an economics background, Jess previously worked in academia and government research, and as Economics Editor for Oxford Economics, before leaving Westminster to return home to the West Country. There, she splits her time between cultural, funding and research roles. She is slowly writing a book on ‘Attachment Economics’ to explore what a more connected form of economics could look like and is interested in social infrastructure as a vehicle for transformation.
Jess has been instrumental in the establishment of several social enterprises. She was one of the team behind the £3.2m Minehead Eye project, an indoor skate park and youth centre, for which she remains Director, and in the establishment of Contains Art which since grew into the major £7.3m development of East Quay. She has recently retired as a trustee of the Power to Change Trust and remains a trustee of Dunster Music Festival and is the Chair of Contains Art, now a charity.
Sally joined Onion Collective in 2016, becoming a Director two years later. She is the co-lead on our Understory project which is a platform to map and interrogate social capital in places as well as being our sustainability champion. Previously she led the development of our Mycomill project to reimagine a community industry for the town.
Sally holds an MSc in Sustainable Development – with a focus on community - from the University of Exeter, and has worked across the environment sector, from waste journalism to sustainable food marketing, meanwhile spending years volunteering across various community projects, from food hubs to gardening projects. She is interested in alternative, regenerative business models, the power of imagination to re-write our futures, and stimulating systems change from the ground up.
Naomi is one of the founding directors of Onion Collective. She grew up at Tropiquaria, which her parents created when she was a child, alongside Jess. Building a zoo in an old 1930s BBC transmitter hall helped form a big part of Naomi's guiding principle that 'anything is possible!' After running Tropiquaria for some years, Naomi was the driving force behind the Minehead EYE project, a youth centre/skate park which won a £3.2m Lottery grant, and opened in 2010, for which she remains the Chair. She was also instrumental in the establishment of Contains Art, now a charity.
At Onion Collective, Naomi acts as the General Manager for East Quay, overseeing operational and strategic delivery, including a busy programme of events and a popular restaurant. She has huge experience in capital delivery having managed the build of East Quay, and Minehead EYE.
Georgie is one of the founding directors of Onion Collective. She co-leads on Understory, a digital platform which maps community action in place which was created in partnership with Free Ice Cream, a design studio.
She also leads on community engagement and wider public relations for all Onion projects including East Quay, an arts centre on the harbourside in Watchet, opened by OC in 2021. Her motivations lie in building community power and realising a future where community collaboration becomes a key mechanism for decisions that shape civic life.
Georgie teaches with Invisible Studio on social impact in architecture at the University of Reading and is a regular contributor to the School of Social Entrepreneurs.
Tim joined Onion Collective as Finance Manager in 2020, and became a Director of the organisation in 2024. As well as finance, his area of work also includes HR, Corporate Governance, Legal Compliance, IT Support, Washing-up, general maintenance and cooking fries.
Tim trained with the NHS in Birmingham as a Public Finance Accountant. He worked for several NHS organisations in Birmingham and Kent, variously as Head of Financial Management, Strategy Lead, and Head of Contracts. He then moved into the education sector as a Chief Finance Officer for Multi-Academy Trusts. He completed an MA focussed on Victorian poetry part-time through the Open University whilst training with the NHS, and has since taken several political, economic, planetary, and life science Open University modules.
Visitor Centre Manager
Fiona joined Onion Collective in April 2019 as our Visitor Centre Manager. Fiona has a wealth of experience in the tourism industry having worked at Haven's Doniford Bay Caravan Park for eight years and running her own holiday let in the town for over a decade. As the Visitor Centre Manager Fiona helps to promote Watchet as a tourism destination and ensure that visitors have all the information they need for a fantastic stay.
Fiona is very well known in the community - perhaps the greatest ever community connector! She is the conductor of the Watchet Community Choir, is involved in with the Watchet Panto and is also involved with Community Drama with the children at Knights Templar School.
Kiri joined Onion Collective in 2017 and is responsible for the smooth running of the office and all administrative tasks, including supporting the Finance Director.
She plays a central role in HR, financial management and keeping the Directors on track so that they can focus on direct delivery and strategic development.
Kiri joined us from an accountancy firm in Taunton where she worked for three years managing client and internal administrative tasks.
Non Executive Director
Rachel is now an Non Executive Director of Onion Collective, deciding to take a step back from day to day Onion business in 2023, after being one of its original founders. Her main focus at Onion was capital projects such as the East Quay build and the Watchet Visitor Centre build.
She now offers consultancy and freelance support and is Development Manager at Moretonhampstead Development Trust and Green Hill Arts and is a board member of Teignbridge District Council Arts Board as well as Project Manager on Exeter Community Energy capital projects. Prior to moving into social enterprises she was a Line Producer/Production Manager on BBC Natural History documentaries, General Manager of an international organic trading organisation and ran a local food producers scheme on Exmoor.
Tessa Jackson OBE
Non Executive Director
Tessa has worked in key positions within the UK arts and cultural sectors for more than twenty-five years. She was appointed Head of Visual Arts & Architecture for Glasgow 1990 – European Capital of Culture. From 1991 to 1999 she was Director of Arnolfini, one of the UK’s most significant international centres for the arts. From 1999 to 2001, Tessa became Director of the Scottish Arts Council. She was also founding Artistic Director / Chief Executive of Artes Mundi, Wales International Visual Arts Prize and Chief Executive of Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts).
She has now returned to working independently as a cultural advisor, curator and writer and recent clients include the National Portrait Gallery, National Trust, British Council, Heong Galley – Cambridge, Creative Scotland and Bedford Creative Arts . In 2011 she was awarded an OBE for sevices to Art.
Non Executive Director
David is formerly Global CEO of international brand and retail consultancy FITCH. He joined in 2005 as part of the newly formed Global Development team, which was set up to strategically manage and grow FITCH’s largest clients across the agency network and the wider WPP group of companies.
In late 2012, David returned to London to take up the role of Managing Director for Europe and Russia, taking on a broader regional role to include the Middle East in 2014 and in 2017 was promoted to Global CEO.
Prior to joining FITCH, David completed his MBA at the Bath School of Management before which he was a founder member of a digital marketing agency, working with Tesco, Honda and Fidelity among others. In the more distant past, David had five successful years as a derivative broker in the City after completing his first degree in History and History of Art at Bristol University.
Alongside these core staff and directors, we employ a wide range of other brilliant people, predominantly at East Quay including a cultural team, education and learning team and front-of-house team. You can find out about the whole Onion team by accessing our organisational pages on the East Quay website.