Meet the team

Learn more about the amazing team that forms the beating heart of Open Road West Norfolk. They work hard to ensure that our students have the best experience during their time with us.

Martin Slater
Martin SlaterManaging Director
My career started with the Royal Air Force, serving for 12 years, including five years in Northern Germany. Returning to Norfolk in the mid-1990’s, I joined the County Council and subsequently became Catering Operations Manager, directing commercial catering operations across the county. This included setting up the catering and conferencing operations at the University of East Anglia (UEA) Sportspark, an £18 million sports and conferencing facility. The day Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal opened the facility is one to be proud of.

In my spare time I completed a Diploma in Management Studies at City College Norwich and went on to successfully complete a Master’s degree in Business Administration at the University of East Anglia, passing with a Distinction in 2005.

Having completed these courses, I joined the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk to develop the area’s Local Strategic Partnership and work with colleagues to deliver quality of life improvements for people living in West Norfolk. By working collaboratively across a number of public sector agencies, the Partnership were able to establish both the Open Road West Norfolk Trust and the Swan Project in Downham Market.

In 2013, I moved to the Falkland Islands and for a number of years managed the Islands’ national economic development agency. As the Falkland Islands Development Corporation’s Managing Director, I held responsibility for an extensive range of services to the business community and supported the delivery of a number of transformational projects. These included the establishment of a second commercial air service to the islands from South America and the wide scale deployment of solar energy systems across the Falklands.

Recognising the quality of life West Norfolk has to offer people who live and work here, I have always been keen to return to where I grew up, and now live in Pott Row with my partner and Poppy, our Springer Spaniel.

Robin Hansell
Robin HansellCentre Manager
My passion for mechanics stems from an early age when I would help my dad repair the family car.

At 17 I built my first car in anticipation of passing my driving test. I passed on my second attempt, and I have been building cars on and off since then.

At 18 I qualified as a mechanic and started work at a local main dealership. With eight years of experience in this role, I started to stretch my wings a little and worked in a variety of different independent garages and even ran my own mobile mechanic business for a time.

In 2009 my career took me in a new direction, and I started teaching motor vehicle maintenance at NTS . Having found my passion for teaching, in September 2012 I joined Open Road and in 2013 became the Training Centre Manager. At the time this was quite a daunting prospect, but I like to think I rose to the challenge.
Having been a part of Open Road for some time, I still enjoy working here. The young people we work with make every day different and it is great to see them inspired by their achievements. Our recently completed project of rebuilding a barn find 1960 Ford Prefect really captured their interest and the look on their faces when we got it started for the first time in years is certainly one to remember.

My passion for mechanics remains and we are fortunate that we get to work with the latest equipment and vehicles so I can keep my skills up to date. There are plenty of training opportunities too and I have gained my level 3 hybrid training my Air Con Re-gas certificate and much more since being part of Open Road.
In my spare time I am a keen follower of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), and I go to most races. It is a great day out and you always have the chance to meet and chat to the drivers.

My other passion is music. I love going to concerts and seeing bands play live. I also play the guitar and although I am not as famous as those who have inspired me to learn how to play, I have been in several bands that have gigged in and around Norfolk.

Ady Barney
Ady BarneyBusiness Manager
I have been with Open Road since September 2015.

Originally born in York but at three months moved to Hong Kong and have had various homes around Norfolk before settling in King’s Lynn since 1983.

My background is 35 years working within public services, originally with DSS (now DWP) but with the last 19 years in first the Education Department which became Children’s Services in 2006. My posts were Area Admin Officer, Area Business Manager and Business Support Manager. I was fortunate to be able to retire early from my last post but did not feel ready to completely retire!

I have two grown up sons and one granddaughter. I enjoy long walks with the dog, especially Heacham beach in the winter when there is a hot cup of tea waiting for me afterwards. I am a keen gardener and kept an allotment up until a few years ago. I am an avid Formula 1 fan and was lucky to have been to Monaco for the race in 2016. I am also a volunteer for SSAFA (Soldiers’ Sailors’ & Airmen’s Family Association) which came about as my father was in the RAF for 39 years.

Sonia Coles
Sonia ColesPastoral Support and Construction Curriculum Lead
I joined Open Road in March 2023.

As a child, I went everywhere with my dad in his lorry. I used to climb in the back and help push the crop down onto the donkey belt, breakfast was always at a trucker’s café in a layby and the only women you see were cooking the breakfast for the men, that’s when I fell in love with life on the road and the big lorries, my dream was to become a long-distance lorry driver.

I attended an all-girls high school, there was no opportunity to try anything that was classed as a ‘man’s job’. Girls studied sewing, cooking and childcare. When I left school in 1985 it was very rare to see a female lorry driver, mechanic or a female doing a manual job in construction.

After having my own children, bringing them up and supporting them through education. I had a passion for decorating and DIY, so I decided to go back into education and learn more about special educational needs, different aspects of disability, psychology, and mental health. I worked supporting teenagers with different learning and behavioural difficulties in different departments at the College of West Anglia for 13 years. I worked in the technology department for 7 years, specifically in carpentry for 4 years. Whilst supporting the learners, the tutor would allow me to also practice my own carpentry skills, this enabled me to be able to support the students with more understanding of what they were trying to achieve.

Byron Houston
Byron HoustonWorkshop Assistant
I first came to Open Road in 2016 to try and gain a qualification in mechanics as I had an interest in cars.

In my time here as a student I achieved my IMI Level 1 Award, Certificate and Diploma in vehicle maintenance and then went on to achieve an IMI Level 2 Diploma in servicing and repair.

As a student, I enjoyed my time at Open Road so I asked if I could become a volunteer. Being a volunteer gave me the opportunity to develop my skills, learn how to understand and work on car electrics, and gave me the confidence to work as part of a team.

I was subsequently asked to join Open Road on a 6-month fixed term contract back in 2020 and I have been part of the training team ever since.

I like working at Open Road because you learn something new every day and it’s a place where you can make mistakes on the training vehicles, learn from it and put this into practice when working on a live vehicle.

In my spare time, I am studying for a GCSE in maths and enjoy building scale models.