The VABS Board

Jaci Douglas


Jaci is the Chief Executive of Care and Learning Alliance – the largest third sector early learning and childcare organisation in Highlands.

Her previous role was as independent Highland Councillor for Badenoch and Strathspey from 2007 to 2017, during which time she sat on a wide variety of boards and charities, including Highlife Highland (the arms-length organisation that delivers learning, leisure and wellbeing services on behalf of Highland Council), Cairngorms National Park Authority, NHS Highland and Inverness Women’s Aid.

Jaci lived abroad in the USA and Scandinavia for many years. She has a wide-ranging background in both community development and local food campaigning and tirelessly champions issues around children and young people, community resilience and wellbeing.

Jaci currently sits on the Board of Inverness College UHI, Grantown Grammar School Parent Council and the steering group for B & S Foodbank and sings in local community choir Bella Voce. She is married, has 4 daughters and lives in Grantown on Spey.

Rachel Avery


Rachel has a background in ecology, outdoor learning and community-led woodland management.

Rachel has a background in ecology, outdoor learning and community-led woodland management. She has been personally and professionally involved in a wide variety of third sector organisations working on conservation, sustainability and youth development issues. She has lived in the strath since 2011, finally moving to Kingussie in 2015 where she hopes to stay for a very long time.

James Dunbar


Having been involved in many community groups over the years James has hung up many hats and enjoys being a tour guide of Scotland now.

James’ involvement in the voluntary sector goes back to a time very shortly after he returned to his home in Strathspey back in the mid 1980s. Within a few months he became Secretary of the Boat of Garten Tourist Association and then its Treasurer as well. Thereafter he was elected onto the Boat of Garten Community Council, subsequently becoming its Chairman for a number of years. James was also a founding director of the Boat of Garten Community Company and having retired from that became a director of the Boat of Garten Community Hall and subsequently its Chairman. All of these of course meant being involved in many other bodies – not least the Cairngorms Communities Group under the aegis of the Cairngorms Partnership and after the creation of the National Park. Nowadays there is a little less on his plate – VABS and eldership in the Presbytery of Abernethy. In his day job, he is a tour guide throughout Scotland and at the local brewery.

Graham Fraser


A community councillor in Newtonmore since 2009, Graham enjoys the outdoors and being involved in the community and local heritage.

Graham was born in Fife and largely brought up in Clackmannanshire. After a flirt with accountancy for a few years, Graham moved to London in 1973 when he joined the Bank of England. There his career mainly focussed on financial and supervisory statistics and financial regulation. Latterly he was a member of various European committees, drafting and consulting on both national and international banking and insurance regulatory legislation. In 2005 he decided to return to Scotland and settled in Newtonmore (having holidayed in the Strath annually since 1990), commuting on a weekly basis to London until he retired in 2014. He has been a community councillor in Newtonmore since 2009, assuming the role of Secretary in 2013. He enjoys the outdoors (walking, gardening and bird-watching) and has become more actively involved in community and local heritage matters since retiring.

John Grierson


John is a native of Perth but has lived in Aviemore for over 25 years and is currently chair of the Aviemore and Vicinity Community Council.

John is a native of Perth, but having lived in Aviemore for over 25 years and worked throughout the Highlands, has a thorough knowledge of the area and its communities. Being self-employed on a part-time basis has allowed him to get involved in the community and he is currently Chair of Aviemore and Vicinity Community Council and a director of Aviemore Community Enterprise Company. John is a passionate supporter of an evolving rural community; one which provides a sustainable future for all the people and at the same time cares for an environment we can all enjoy.

John Nethercott

Vice Chair

John Nethercott has lived in Badenoch and Strathspey since 1990 and been a director of VABS since 2007.

John Nethercott has lived in Badenoch and Strathspey since 1990 and been a director of VABS since 2007. For 30 years he worked in primary teaching, working in schools from Hawick to Caithness, but on retiring from this, then decided to work with adults. He currently delivers courses through the Cairngorms Learning Partnership, where he also a trustee. John is also a trained counsellor and mostly works as a volunteer counsellor for CRUSE Bereavement Care Scotland in Inverness, Badenoch and Strathspey.

For John, the development growth of a sound Third Sector is essential and he believes very much in the important role of VABS in the community development of this area. His main interest in his spare time is sailing.

Mary Stewart


Mary was raised in the Inverness area, and after working and living in various parts of Scotland, came to live in Aviemore in 2008.

With a background of working in Health and Social Care, Mary maintains an active involvement as a volunteer with local groups which support older people and those with disabilities.

Mary was instrumental in setting up St. Vincent’s Therapy Garden, a social and therapeutic horticultural charity – now known as Badenoch and Strathspey Therapy Gardens and continues as a trustee after being the Project Manager for several years. She continues to promote the benefits of gardening and of green space, whenever possible.

Mary became a director of VABS in 2017.

Highland Third Sector Interface

VABS is part of the Highland Third Sector Interface (HTSI) funded by the Scottish Government to support Badenoch and Strathspey communities in the following four areas:

  • Volunteering
  • Organisational support
  • Social Economy/Enterprise
  • Community Engagement & Planning

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