About us


Our governance

The governing body of Avon Wildlife Trust is a board of trustees. Trustees play a vital role in all aspects of our work.

Giving their time for free, like all our volunteers, our trustees bring the necessary skills and experience to oversee the strategic development and direction of Avon Wildlife Trust. They take all decisions on matters of Trust policy. 

Meet the trustees

There are currently 11 trustees serving for the Trust:

Professor Jane Memmott – Chair of Trustees

Jane is a Professor of Ecology at The School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol.  Jane’s research career has included working in the rainforests of Costa Rica as a tropical entomologist and with the weed biological control team in New Zealand. 

She currently runs a research group at Bristol that uses ecological networks as a tool for asking about the impact of environmental change. She works in a variety of research fields including the impact of alien species on natural communities, the impact of farming on biodiversity, urban ecology and restoration ecology. 

Working with practitioners is a key part of her approach and recent projects have involved working closely with city councils and the Wildlife Trusts. Most latterly she led a consortium of 28 people studying urban pollinators – a team who planted 60 large urban meadows in four cities! 

Jane Memmott

Katharine Finn – Chair of Finance and Resources Committee

Katharine has been Regional Ambassador of PwC West and Wales and is senior partner in Bristol office specialising financial audits and assurance services. She works with public, private and not-for-profit organisations and is HRH Ambassador for Responsible Business in the South West. Katharine has three young children and enjoys spending time outdoors exploring natural spaces with their two dogs.

Katharine Finn

Malcolm Shepherd - Chair of Governance Committee

Malcolm’s early career was in Industry where he held Finance and Commercial Director roles with several large companies, but for the last 25 years worked within the broad environmental movement as a consultant, employee, trustee and volunteer.

He recently retired as the Chief Executive of Sustrans. He was a founding member of Saferworld, a Director and Trustee of Friends of the Earth (including as Chairman), has been on the Council of the National Trust, and held various roles in the sector and advisory roles to the Department for Transport and the Cabinet Office.

In 2015 Malcolm was awarded a CBE for his contribution over many years to Transport and the Environment, and in the same year received an Honorary Doctorate from UWE for his contribution to Community, Transport and the Environment.

Malcolm Shepherd

Chris Curling

A corporate finance lawyer, Chris led law firm Osborne Clarke for 15 years, overseeing its development from a Bristol-based provincial firm into an international law practice.

Chris was an early member of Friends of the Earth (FOE) and was involved in the formation of Avon FOE in the 1970’s. He has been Chairman of Sustrans, Wildscreen, and the External Advisory Board of the Cabot Institute, the environmental research institute of the University of Bristol. He is passionate about education, having been a member of the governing body of Bristol University and Chairman of Governors of Merchants’ Academy, Withywood, Bristol.

He now chairs a committee which has oversight of nine schools in Bristol under the umbrella of the Society of Merchant Venturers, of which he was Master in 2015. Chris has an honorary Doctorate of Law from UWE for his work in environmental conservation and education in the West Country.

Chris Curling

Maddy Bartlett

Maddy is an environmental writer and founder of Compass & Stars, a sustainable travel website helping people to travel the world with minimum impact. 

She previously worked at the Natural History Consortium (NHC) as Programmes Manager. In 2014, she founded the Bristol Nature Network (BNN) - an innovative project for young wildlife enthusiasts which connects over 2,500 young people across the region – which she chaired for three years and presented at several European conferences. Maddy was also on the steering committee for the national ‘Vision for Nature’ report, combining environmental policy with the arts to communicate young people’s high ambitions for the natural world.

The report has been circulated amongst NGOs, academics, MPs and nature lovers across the country, and highlights the enthusiasm that young people have for the environment. At NHC, Maddy managed several large-scale collaborative projects including Bristol’s European Researchers’ Night and Festival of Nature.

Maddy spent two years as a voluntary Conservation Assistant with Avon Wildlife Trust and believes strongly in our ambitions to support and protect the natural environment.

Maddy Bartlett

Martin Brasher

Martin has been interested in wildlife since seeing an adder in a field when he was six. Much later, as a Government official, he spent over 30 years negotiating in Brussels on behalf of the UK for improved environmental legislation in the EU.

He also led UK delegations to numerous international meetings on wildlife conservation, and chaired United Nations meetings on climate change, species conservation and habitat protection. He chaired the England Biodiversity Group from 2006 to 2012, and acted as the Government policy link with the Lawton Committee.

Now retired, as well as being a Trustee of Avon Wildlife Trust, he is an independent member of the Darwin Expert Committee, and a Trustee of the Natural History Consortium.

Martin Brasher

Nigel Morrison

Nigel has been a Partner in Grant Thornton UK for 20 years and in early 2019 he became the firm’s Chief Financial Officer.  He lives in Clevedon and enjoys nature through walking his dog, cycling and various other outdoor pursuits.  Nigel is also Chair of Wild Service an ecological consulting firm owned jointly by the Avon and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trusts.

Nigel Morrison

Zac Nicholson

Zac has been a chartered architect for over 16 years and an associate with Alec French Architects for over 12 years. With an overarching ethos for low energy low impact sustainable architecture, he is a certified Passivhaus Designer and has extensive knowledge of a wide range of construction and building types; community, education, residential, mixed use, sports and leisure projects.  Practicing what he preaches, he manages the office ISO14001 accreditation, has gained Carbon Neutral® company status, undertakes carbon foot printing and plants native broadleaf trees in the local community for carbon offsetting.

He is also passionate about conservation of native wildlife, taking holidays in Northumberland and Cornwall, seal and dolphin watching.  He supports a number of animal and wildlife charities; World Animal Protector, Four Paws, The Brooke, The Donkey Sanctuary, The Woodland Trust and is a volunteer and member of the Friends of the Bath Cats and Dogs Home.


Zac Nicholson

Emma Beeston

Emma has worked in the UK charity sector for over 25 years and has managed grant making programmes at BBC Children in Need and Lloyds Bank Foundation. In 2015, she established Emma Beeston Consultancy which advises philanthropists and funders on effective giving. Emma is a lecturer on the University of Kent’s Masters in Philanthropic Studies and CASS Business School’s Charity Masters Programme. She also delivers training for the Association of Charitable Foundation’s professional development programme. Emma has a degree in Zoology from the University of Bristol and is a keen wildlife spotter, walker and gardener. Her grandfather used to disrupt badger traps in the woods and she wants to continue in his footsteps - albeit legally - through supporting Avon Wildlife Trust.  

Emma Beaston

Nathan Rutter

Nathan is a science teacher at an inner-city secondary school in Bristol. His passion for nature and the environment started from childhood, and then he went on to study environmental science at university. From connections made in Plymouth, he self-funded a research trip to Nicaragua for seven months with the help of ENCA (the Environmental Network of Central America); investigating the impact of society and tourism on its environment. Whilst there, he found that education and immersion in the outdoors is key to making people value nature and the positive impact it can have on our lives. He currently run an eco-club for students within his school, trying to encourage a culturally diverse school body to collectively care more about the environment. The benefits of nature on our well being are clear to those of us that immerse ourselves in the outdoors. However, communities which have not had these experiences cannot place value on something they do not relate to. He wants to work with the trust to open these experiences for all communities of Bristol and Bath; creating a welcoming environment for all cultures and a trust that represents its community.

Nathan Rutter

David Relph

David works on improving collaboration and impact carried out across whole places rather than within organisations. After studying economics he joined the British Army and served for 15 years in a variety of roles before joining the Carbon Trust in 2011. He worked as part of their Policy team advising the UK and other governments on support to innovation in a range of low carbon technologies. David then joined the NHS as the Head of Strategy and Planning at University Hospitals Bristol. He then became the Director of Bristol Health Partners, a city wide collaboration of NHS bodies, universities and local authorities and was awarded an Honorary Degree by the University of the West of England in 2016 for my work in Bristol. David has a strong commitment to the preservation and development of the natural environment and believes that the benefits of access to the natural environment should be available to everyone equally. He is helping the Trust to look at how our work, and the work of the environmental sector, connects with work in the health and planning systems.


David Relph


What is the role of a Trustee?

The role of the Trust’s Board of Trustees is to deal with regular business, with occasional extra meetings to address strategic or special matters. This body has full responsibility for the strategic development and direction of the Trust, and takes all decisions on matters of Trust policy.

How many Trustees does the Trust have, and how are they elected?

The constitution of the Trust provides for a maximum of 12 Trustees - up to six elected directly by Trust members at the AGM, and up to six appointed by the Trustees to ensure an appropriate balance of skills, experience and representation on the Board. The Board can also co-opt Trustees to fill any vacancy between AGMs. The Trust currently has 11 Trustees.

How long does a Trustee serve on the Board?

Trustees serve by election or appointment for three years.

How often does the Board meet?

Avon Wildlife Trust's Board of Trustees meets every three months, with occasional extra meetings to address strategic or special matters.

Securing wildlife - inspiring people

Read our Annual Report and Accounts 2017-2018