Meet the people who lead the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust.
President, Steve Backshall
Steve is world-renowned adventurer, naturalist, writer and television presenter. You may have seen him on BBC TV shows such as Big Blue Live, Deadly 60, and Lost Land of the Volcano. In 2010 he became President of the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) because of his passion for local wildlife, and enthusiasm for more children to be intrigued and inspired by nature. Watch Steve introduce you to BBOWT.
Joanna Davidson CBE, Chair of the Board of Trustees
Joanna has a background of senior leadership in the public and voluntary sectors having been chief executive of two local authorities and a national charity. She now mixes consultancy in the voluntary sector with her charitable interests. Her interest in wildlife conservation began as a teenage volunteer with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, and in the 1980s she helped to set up the London Wildlife Trust where she was subsequently a council member. Joanna became a BBOWT trustee in 2016 and Chair of the Board of Trustees in 2019. She is also Chair of Experience Oxfordshire and a trustee of Shelter.
Estelle Bailey, Chief Executive
Estelle joined BBOWT in January 2014 after many years working in nature conservation with other Wildlife Trusts. Estelle leads the team of Directors who are delivering the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust’s Strategic Plan 2016 -2021: Be part of nature’s recovery. Working with the board of Trustees she ensures the sustainable development of the Trust to meet new challenges for wildlife. Estelle is a keen ornithologist, with a lifelong passion for wildlife. To contact Estelle, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Prue Addison, Conservation Strategy Director
Prue leads BBOWT’s conservation efforts in the wider countryside across the three counties. This focuses on work beyond our BBOWT nature reserves, undertaking activities such as monitoring and managing our Living Landscapes and working with planners, developers and private landowners to give wildlife a voice, and inspire people to take action for wildlife. With a background in conservation science, Prue brings her passion for delivering practical conservation approaches underpinned by evidence, to strategically address challenges facing wildlife in our three counties.
Becky Hall, Human Resources Director
Becky joined BBOWT in 2019 and heads up the Human Resources team and leads the HR strategic agenda across the three counties. Becky brings over 15 years' experience working across a range of businesses in the hospitality and retail industries and is a chartered member of the CIPD. Understanding that our employees are our biggest and most valuable asset, Becky’s role includes business partnering all the functions across the Trust ensuring we have robust and highly proficient people plans in place to deliver sustainable results aligned to the BBOWT strategic plan.
Becky has a keen interest in wildlife and is passionate about inspiring others to understand its value and natural benefits to health.
Karen Hartshorn, Fundraising, Communications & Marketing Director
Karen joined BBOWT in January 2021. She leads fundraising, marketing, membership and communications strategy across the three counties, working to ensure delivery of the Trust's overall strategic aims through positive engagement, sustainable income generation and innovative communications.
Prior to BBOWT Karen worked for many years in educational fundraising, marketing and communications, and volunteers as a trustee of an educational charity. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising.
Karen loves getting out into nature, and enjoys communicating its benefits to our physical and mental health.
Christopher Williams, Land Management and People Engagement Director
Chris leads the Trust’s land management and people engagement operations across the three counties. His role provides strategic leadership and management for our nature reserves which comprise around 2,500ha of land.
Chris also leads our people engagement activities at Education Centres, Visitor Centres and community spaces.
Chris is keen to develop more opportunities for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to be inspired by nature through new and innovative programmes, working with our local partners.
Cait Winter, Finance and Governance Director
Cait joined BBOWT in April 2019 leads BBOWT’s strategic financial planning – working to ensure that the Trust has a sound financial base to secure the future of its work for nature across the three counties for many generations to come. She also oversees our visitors centres, IT systems, properties and governance function. She is a qualified accountant with a broad range of experience from across the public and third sector. Having worked in humanitarian aid, criminal justice and human rights organisations previously she brings with her a strong sense of justice and a passion for treating the world we live in and those we share it with well. Cait has (at least one) hedgehog that lives in her garden.
Sam Cartwright, Head of Wider Countryside Conservation
Since 2020 Sam has been heading up the Wider Countryside Conservation Team, which delivers our many practical conservation projects beyond the borders of BBOWT reserves, as well as our Living Landscape projects and our Land Advice Service. With a background in conservation science and ecology, Sam is committed to working to enable the return of wildlife to our countryside. Sam joined the Trust in 2016, and was responsible for addressing the impact of planning proposals on wildlife across Berkshire.
When not working she’ll probably be out running the local hilly trails.
Anna Driver, Head of Trusts and Grants
Anna joined BBOWT in February 2021 to manage and grow trust and grant income, funding new and existing projects which enable the Trust to achieve its overall strategic aims.
Prior to BBOWT, Anna has worked with a number of small and medium charities, helping them develop successful trust and grant programmes. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, serving as an active Committee Member and Secretary for their Chilterns group. She also Co-Chairs their Trust Network, providing peer to peer support to a number of trust fundraisers within the Chilterns.
Anna is looking forward to educating others on the importance of protecting the landscape and wildlife around us.
Debbie Lewis, Head of Ecology
Debbie joined BBOWT in 2002 when she established the reserves monitoring programme, which collects rigorous ecological data to help inform nature reserve management decisions. Debbie now heads up the Ecology Team, carrying out surveying and providing advice both on reserves and in the wider countryside. Debbie has also overseen the delivery of an innovative wider landscaping monitoring scheme in our West Berkshire Living Landscape and has advised numerous other Wildlife Trusts in how to assess their own biodiversity.
When Debbie is not at work she likes to eat cake and go cycling.
George Murray, Head of Membership and Corporate Giving
George joined BBOWT in 2004 and now leads our work in membership, marketing, events and corporate giving. He has extensive experience in making our membership base one of the strongest in the country, and is keen to explore innovative new ways of partnering with all our business members. He has also overseen major fundraising campaigns, including buying new nature reserves and the development of Woolley Firs Environmental Education Centre and College Lake visitor centre. Before joining the Trust, George worked for local and national charities in a variety of communication and fundraising roles.
Laura Pepper, Head of Philanthropy
Laura joined the Trust in 2016 following 12 years of fundraising, mainly in the heritage and environment sector. As a member of the Institute of Fundraising and having studied through the The Institute of Sustainable Philanthropy in the UK, Laura heads up BBOWT’s Philanthropy Department. The department manages the high-level relationships which help drive the delivery of BBOWT’s Strategic Plan, as well as harnessing vital every day income for the Trust from these supporters. Another important role of her Team is to work closely with individuals and families as they plan their legacy wishes for the Trust, including in-memorial giving.
Rachel Powell, Head of Finance
Rachel joined the Trust in 2008 following 8 years in the conservation sector. She heads up the small Finance Team, dealing with the day to day management of the Trust’s finances and ensuring compliance with statutory reporting requirements. She’s a bit bird obsessed and much prefers to talk bird watching with colleagues rather than numbers!
Liz Shearer, Head of People Engagement
Liz started her current role in 2019. She leads the people engagement team, which includes our environmental education and community wildlife teams who use a wide range of activities and projects to inspire people about wildlife and help them to recognise the value of nature. Liz has a keen interest in the impact that nature has on people, particularly the positive impact on our health and well-being. Liz joined the Trust in 2015 to manage the Nature Discovery Centre in Newbury, one of our flagship visitor centres. Before this, she worked in the public and charity sectors for 10 years, inspiring people about their local green space in countryside and urban environments.
Lis Speight, Head of Communications and Media
Lis joined BBOWT in March 2021 to head up the communications team, following five years working with conservation charities at regional, national and international levels. With a strong background in newspaper and broadcast media, Lis is keen to use her skills to inspire others to care for the wonderful wildlife in our three counties. The communications team plays a key role in the Trust – informing, engaging and empowering people to join us in taking action to save nature. A life-long nature lover, Lis is very proud to be working for BBOWT and feels lucky to be doing a job she enjoys, in a field she feels so passionately about.
Matthew Stanton, Head of Planning, Policy and Advocacy
Matthew joined BBOWT in 2019 after working in environmental law, planning and policy for a decade. He leads on the Trust’s advocacy with MPs, councillors and other influential decision makers. He also heads up the Trust’s planning and development work, seeking to ensure that any development that takes place benefits wildlife. As a qualified solicitor, he also manages BBOWT’s strategic legal actions, such as the case brought against the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway.
Alongside our staff, our team of Trustees play a vital role in the governance and strategic leadership of the organisation.
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