Our ultimate governing body is an elected Board of Trustees; a group of members who are nominated and elected. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is, therefore, governed by its membership.
The Board is responsible for ensuring that we carry out our charitable objectives in accordance with the relevant legislation. It sets the overall vision, mission, policy and goals - in line with the national strategies of The Wildlife Trusts. It must also ensure our financial stability and the effective management of our assets.
Jo Webb (Chair)
Jo became the Chair of the Board of Trustees in December 2020. Over the last five years she has also worked as a leadership coach, interim manager and consultant with diverse clients including Greenpeace, Norfolk County Council and Camden Clinical Commissioning Group.
Previously, she has had many roles in local government including Regional Associate for the Local Government Association in which she supported leading councillors and senior managers across Yorkshire. She has also worked as an inspector for the Audit Commission.
Jo has enjoyed volunteering for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust over the last few years and as Chair of the of the Board of Trustees she brings expertise in strengthening governance and management.
Louise Farnell (Vice Chair)
Louise has worked as a successful charity fundraising consultant since 2005, raising over £40 million for local and national charities in that time. She specialises in writing funding applications and is particularly proud of having raised over £20 million for Time to Change - the campaign to end the stigma of mental illness.
Louise has been a Trustee since 2013 and became Vice Chair in December 2020. She is enthusiastic about working with the fundraising team at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to raise funds for more of the charity's great conservation work across the county. She worked closely with the team to secure £268,500 for the BUD project, bringing disadvantaged communities closer to nature in Bradford and helped the Trust secure £1 million to establish our Tomorrow’s Natural Leaders programme. In 2019, she worked with The Wildlife Trusts to secure £6.4 million for a national Nature Friendly Schools programme, part of which will be delivered in Yorkshire.
Louise has lived near Skipton since 2001 and is happiest in her walking boots exploring the dales.
Martin Randle (Honorary Treasurer)
Martin is a Chartered Accountant, now retired after a career in finance across a wide range of businesses and industries. Brought up in Yorkshire, he qualified in Bristol and then moved to Zimbabwe in the 1980s. Whilst in Zimbabwe, he was able to experience the amazing animal and bird life of the country but also saw the threats from growing populations and poaching. As a result he developed his conservation interests and became a supporter of the local ”Save the Rhino” group.
He has now lived in Sheffield for many years and finds both Yorkshire and the nearby Peak District inspiring places for all ages to enjoy the great outdoors. Since first becoming a Trustee in 2015, Martin has actively supported the Trust in a Board role and as a member of the Finance Group, as well as enjoying many visits to the amazing reserves. He was appointed Honorary Treasurer of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust in April 2020 and hopes to contribute practical finance experience and common sense to assist in the running of the organisation.
Christine Packer (Honorary Secretary)
Christine became interested in wildlife and concerned for the environment when as a young geologist working in the field, she saw first hand some of the impact human activity was having on the natural environment. Christine began volunteering for her local Wildlife Trust and then changed career direction to work in environmental management and sustainability.
Christine currently works in her local authority promoting sustainable transport for the benefit of people and the environment and uses this expertise to support the Trust's own sustainability goals. She has created an area of native woodland and a wildflower meadow near her home, which also helps to support her beekeeping efforts. Her personal philosophy is that caring for the environment should be part of everything we do.
As a Trustee for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Christine finds it a privilege to work with the dedicated staff and see the difference that they are making to the wildlife of Yorkshire, and will use her environmental skills and experience for the benefit of the Trust and the wildlife it protects.
Professor Mike Cooke CBE
Mike was Deputy Chair for eighteen months before becoming the Chair of the Board of Trustees from October 2018 to December 2020. Since moving back to Yorkshire in 2015, he has been an active member of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust with his wider family.
He brings strategic, leadership and partnership experience to his role and has spent sixteen years as Chief Executive running high performance NHS Provider Trusts, latterly in Nottinghamshire. He is currently a Non-Executive Director of Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust, Chair of several Research Collaborations, affiliated to University of York and an Independent Executive Mentor and Coach. He was honoured with a CBE for services for mental health in 2010.
He enjoys the challenge of supporting the wide range of nature partnerships we have across Yorkshire and wider, and also the engagement of more people with nature and marine spaces.
Richard is a solicitor. He hopes his legal background in the financial sector, combined with his passion for the environment, will be beneficial to the Trust.
Outside the office, Richard is a passionate supporter of nature and biodiversity. He was brought up on Anglesey where he developed his love of nature and spent many happy times visiting North Wales Wildlife Trust sites and other wild places.
Richard has lived in Leeds since 2004 and enjoys getting out and about in Yorkshire with his young family, where has witnessed some amazing wildlife moments in some fantastic locations.
Professor Alastair Fitter CBE
Alastair has been a member of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust for nearly 50 years, and this is his third stint on the Board. He has had a long-standing engagement with Askham Bog, chairing its then Management Committee until 1985 and jointly writing 'A Wood in Ascam', an account of its natural history, with Clifford Smith, one of the founders of the (then) Yorkshire Naturalists’ Trust.
Alastair is a naturalist and ecologist, with plants and moths as his main taxonomic interests, and has written several natural history guides and books, some jointly with his father, Richard Fitter, who was a pioneer in this area until he died in 2005. Alastair's career was at the University of York, where he ended his time as Professor of Ecology, Head of the Biology Department and finally Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2005.
Alastair has been a council member of the Natural Environment Research Council and of the Science Advisory Committee of Natural England, and President of the British Ecological Society, among other things, but nowadays prefers to focus his activities in Yorkshire, where he currently chairs the Trustees of the Yorkshire Arboretum and acts as President of the River Foss Society.
Dr David Counsell
David is a planner by profession, with experience of working in local government and in the academic and voluntary sectors. In local government David worked mainly for county councils, latterly as the head of environmental management for Cleveland County Council. Following this, David was director of an environmental charity in Middlesbrough before taking up an academic career, mainly with the University of Hull, but also including a spell teaching environmental planning to Irish students in Cork.
David has co-written three books and many journal articles on environmental management and has undertaken consultancy work for national, regional, and local governments on sustainability appraisal in particular. He also acted as a Special Advisor to a Parliamentary Select Committee on planning in 2009/10.
David has been associated with the Wildlife Trusts movement for many years as a Trustee and past Chair of Tees Valley Wildlife Trust. He was a Trustee of The Wildlife Trusts from 2006-2012. He has been a Board member of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust since 2014 and was Chair between 2016 and 2018.
Gurdev has worked in the Direct Marketing industry for almost 30 years, and is passionate about data, multi-channel communications and integrated marketing.
He cut his direct mail teeth at Broadprint, spending seven years with them in the 80’s when data-driven direct mail was in its infancy. He has since built up a huge wealth of experience including Divisional Sales Director, and later Managing Director and Group Business Development Director at Waddingtons (now Communisis), with responsibility for teams of over 500 people and multimillion pound revenue. He has also acted Group Board Director for Howitt Ltd/Lateral Group (now DST/Paragon).
Gurdev has completed consultancy work for KPMG and is part of marketing agency Bloom as a Non-Executive Director. He also owns a printing company - Northwolds Ltd. He is very well connected in the industry with long-term senior level relationships with well respected and nationally recognised institutions, as well as various industry bodies and service providers. Gurdev lives in Leeds, is married to Dawn and has two grown up children.
Hugh’s lifelong love of wildlife and wild places started with his parents' passion for the Scottish Highlands and visits as a child to the Cambridgeshire Naturalists' Trust's nature reserves. Living in Yorkshire since 1975 he and his wife Lisa introduced their own children to the pleasures and importance of nature with the help of the York Watch group in the 1980s.
Since retiring from a career in local government, Hugh has been a regular volunteer on practical workdays on Yorkshire Wildlife Trust nature reserves around York. First elected a Trustee in 2014, Hugh was Deputy Treasurer from 2015 to 2018 and then Honorary Treasurer until March 2020.
As a Trustee, Hugh aims to continue supporting the growth and progress of the Trust, particularly with regard to financial and performance management.
Joanna is a Chartered Marketer and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing with 30 years experience, including at Board level, spanning public and private sectors. Joanna believes strongly in partnership working and is used to representing organisations at national and regional level.
As Assistant Director of Consultancy for the National Trust (North Region), Joanna has a senior leadership role in the UK's largest conservation charity. She is responsible for leading the teams of professional specialists across a range of disciplines, including visitor experience and curation, volunteering and participation, marketing and internal communications, fundraising, commercial and membership development and external affairs.
Her previous experience includes the role of Marketing Director for Welcome to Yorkshire, with a seat on the Board, where she led regional tourism marketing strategy, and Business Planning and Marketing Manager at the Peak District National Park. She also has several years' private sector marketing experience.
Joanna is deeply passionate about wildlife and the natural world and has been a Trustee for four years. She is glad to offer her expertise to support and advise Yorkshire Wildlife Trust in its quest to conserve Yorkshire's wildlife.
Paddy is an experienced public sector consultant with a lifelong passion for the countryside. He is Chair of West Beck Preservation Society whose members have been involved in developing this SSSI northern chalk stream for more than 120 years. They have worked extensively with the Environment Agency, The Yorkshire Rivers Trust, Natural England and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.
Paddy is a Board Member of Dove House Hospice, a Director of the South Hunsley Multi-Academy Trust and is a non-executive Director of Yorkshire Health Partners. Paddy has mostly retired from a professional life leading change across the charity, public and private sectors in more than half the local authorities in England as an inspector, consultant and executive coach.
A few years ago, Paddy acquired a small piece of overgrown woodland and with a group of families has developed and delivered a diversification plan part-funded by the Forestry Commission, including clearance, rabbit fencing, native tree planting, flora expansion and the creation of a spring-fed pond. He is a regular broadcaster on Radio Humberside (thought for the day), a wood turner and rare chicken breeder. He is no longer a public fire-eater.
I was born and raised in Bradford and my access to wildlife and green spaces was very limited. I spent several years working with vulnerable people within the Bradford area, including young people who had spent time in the legal or care system. A large part of my role included supporting young people to obtain stable and secure housing and access education, training or employment. Working with young people inspired me to realise my own dreams and it was during this time I went back into education. After obtaining my GCSE and A Levels I began my degree in Zoology at the university of Leeds and was lucky enough to be awarded a scholarship to study for a master’s degree in Biodiversity & Conservation. It was here that my passion for Yorkshire’s landscapes began to grow.
I was very fortunate to study under a fantastic professor. We worked together on a project looking at pollinator abundance in agricultural landscapes. I am particularly interested in how positive relationships with land managers can help to address a range of conservation issues, including creating more spaces for wildlife through management practices.
I spent an amazing year working in industry at Natural England where I learned a lot about current land management practices and also the government schemes that are available to help mitigate against biodiversity loss.
University taught me that part of my skillset lies in data collection and analysis. I now work as an intelligence analyst where my job role includes finding patterns and trends in various types of data and using analysis to inform strategic plans. I currently live in Wakefield with my wife who is a college biology tutor. We love to go for long walks in the great green spaces of Yorkshire whenever we get the opportunity.
Nick has over 25 years’ experience in the voluntary sector, primarily with grantmaking charities, and now works as a charity and philanthropy consultant. He was the first full time co-ordinator of the Environmental Funders Network and latterly spent seven years as the Trust Secretary of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. While at JRCT, Nick designed the Trust’s first programme of funding on sustainability.
Since going freelance, Nick has worked with and advised a number of charity and philanthropy projects, including launching the UK Funders Commitment on Climate Change. He also takes a keen interest in matters of charity law, governance and policy, and has served on a number of Charity Law Association working groups.
Nick has lived in Yorkshire for the past twenty years, in Sheffield and York, and is now settled in Acomb. Outside of work, he enjoys walking and cycling for leisure and practical transport, home baking of bread and bagels, and maintaining a suburban garden organically. He is a voluntary trustee of Joffe Charitable Trust, and a member of York Quaker Meeting.
Dr Mick Armitage
Mick’s passion for wildlife and the outdoor world began with visits to the trust’s reserve at Hetchell Wood as a boy. He obtained a degree in Marine Biology at Liverpool University, where he was particularly interested in shoreline ecology. He followed this up with a Zoology PhD studying the ecology of mountain streams in Wales.
A change of direction led to a 30 year career working as a business consultant specialising in providing technology advice to global corporations, government departments and NGOs. He has managed many large-scale projects delivering business and technology change and led large consulting practices. Having recently retired he is able to bring skills that combine his scientific expertise with his extensive business experience to the board.
He has remained committed to wildlife throughout his life and is a regular visitor to our reserves. He is a keen trail runner and mountaineer and is always happy to be visiting and photographing wild places. Mick has lived in Yorkshire for most of his life and is currently attempting to rewild land around his home in Nidderdale, where he lives with his family.