The Wave Chairman Shortlisted for Prestigious Business Award

Gaynor Coley, Chairman of The Wave, has made it to the final of the prestigious Non Executive Director Awards, organised by Peel Hunt. Hundreds of nominations have been whittled down by an eminent panel of judges to just 35 finalists, across seven categories, and the winners will be announced on 25 March.

Gay has been nominated in the Private Equity / Private Equity Backed category for her work as Chairman of The Wave – a world-first inland surfing destination in Bristol, which opened just over a year ago and brings together a passion for waves, nature and human health.


Gay is an experienced Non-Executive Director with a strong history of working in leisure, education and finance. She is skilled in major capital project development, business strategy, sustainable tourism, social enterprise, investment and commercial operations. Gay was Managing Director for 15 years at the award-winning Eden Project after leading the finance during start up.


The Wave management team appointed Gaynor as Chairman as the main construction funding deal was completed in 2018. The experience she brought from the construction process for the Eden Project proved invaluable, as is her insight into managing the operational reality of running a major leisure business.


The Wave CEO, Craig Stoddart, said:

“Gay has been an incredible Chairman for us and I’m delighted to see her acknowledged with this impressive award short-listing. The pandemic has been particularly challenging for us as a start-up business, which lost its first key spring / summer trading season. Gay’s leadership of the Board during this phase helped to ensure support from our investors, and the completion of a refinance deal in October 2020 that secured our future would not have been possible without her insight and support.”


One of Gay’s key personality traits is that she us not prepared to compromise her ethics. The Wave is looking to deliver a vision of a truly sustainable business, delivering social impact and being environmentally responsible, whilst at the same time delivering on the return-on-investment criteria that comes with raising £30m from external investors. Gay has been very effective at bringing key stakeholders, including our investors, along the journey and ensuring that they see the benefits of all aspects of the vision and not just the financial objectives.


Commenting on the short-listing, Gay said:

“I feel very honoured to have made it to the finals of these awards and as all Board chairs know it is not one individual but the quality of the team that pulls companies through difficult times and we have certainly all faced difficult times this past year. I am delighted to be able to represent the amazing Wave team in the final and hopefully this will win many new converts to the invigorating experience of surfing so that we can continue to build on our strong start.”


About the Awards:

The Non-Executive Director Awards were established in 2006, by Peel Hunt, to recognise the achievements of Non-Executive Directors who contribute daily to the success and growth of businesses and Not-for-Profit organisations across the UK. Public nominations for the honours, which celebrate the contributions of NEDs across British business and not-for-profit organisations, opened in October, with judges shortlisting the top candidates. The eminent panel of judges come from a variety of sectors and is chaired by Paul Drechsler CBE.