Board of Trustees

The ultimate governing body of the Trust is an elected Board of Trustees. The Board are a group of Trust members who are nominated and elected by the Trust's membership. Therefore, the Trust is governed by its membership.

The Board is responsible for ensuring that the Trust carries out its 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’ Partnership. It must also ensure the Trust’s financial stability and the effective management of its assets.

Louise Farnell (Honorary Secretary)

Louise has worked as a successful charity fundraising consultant for the last eight years, raising over £32 million for local and national charities in that time. She specialises in writing funding applications to the Big Lottery Fund and is particularly proud of having raised over £20 million for Time to Change, the campaign to end the stigma of mental illness.

Prior to this she was a senior manager at the mental health charity Rethink, where she increased their voluntary income ten-fold in five years. Before this, she was a fundraiser for the British Red Cross.

Louise is a committee member and training lead for the Institute of Fundraising Yorkshire and delivers fundraising training courses for charities across the region.

Louise is a keen traveller and her passion for wildlife has taken her to Africa four times, the Galapagos Islands and on a 15 month trip around the world with her husband and then 5 and 7 year old children, visiting Alaska, Borneo, Patagonia and Costa Rica amongst others.

In her spare time she keeps chickens and bees and is secretary for her local Wharfedale Beekeepers group. She grew up on the Durham/Yorkshire border and has lived near Skipton for the last 13 years - despite her travels, there's nowhere else she'd rather live.

Louise has been a co-opted trustee since November 2013 and is enthusiastic about working with the fundraising team at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to raise funding for more of the charity's great conservation work across the county.

Jo Webb

Jo has worked for the last 5 years 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's councils. She has also worked as an inspector for the Audit Commission.

She is looking forward, as a trustee, to using her expertise in strengthening governance and management.

Jo has enjoyed volunteering for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust over the last few years. She was coopted as a Trustee in October 2016.

Andy Mendus (Honorary Treasurer)

Andy became a Trustee in 2010, when he stopped working for a living. As part of his role Andy now works on the Trustee Archive group, seeking to create a public archive of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust at the Borthwick Institute in York.

Andy worked for Nestle in various logisitics and information systems roles for more than 30 years and tries to bring his business experience to the Board, coupled with more than 20 years as a Govenor of York College, a large educational charity.

Andy started to volunteer (with the Trust's Board Walkers volunteer group in York) when he finished work in 2009, and he has had a smashing time working hard on nature reserves around York, with support of three great Field Officers and a lovely group of volunteers who he now calls friends. This experience has informed his contribution to the Board so far and will continue to do so.

Andy believes that the Trust is working hard to further its key mission of developing Living Landscapes and Living Seas, and hopes that it will continue with its focus on improving Yorkshire's environment for many years in the future. To do that Andy believes that the Trust must be supported by sound finances and management, which is where he hopes to help.

Gurdev Singh

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 7 years with them in the 80’s when data driven direct mail was in its infancy. In 1993 Gurdev was asked to join Waddingtons (now Communisis plc) and as Divisional Sales Director was responsible for over £120M revenue across 3 sites which at one time included Chorleys (Leeds), Broads (Manchester) and Howitt (Nottingham) he resigned in summer 2003. Gurdev moved to Howitt Ltd/Lateral Group (now DST) and was a Group Board Director responsible for the team of over 300 at their site near Nottingham. In 2009 Gurdev was asked to return to Communisis plc as Managing Director of the team of over 550 at their Leeds site and then moved to Group Business Development Director sitting on the Group Operating Board( ).In Dec 2013 Gurdev left Communisis to pursue other interests, he does consultancy work for KPMG and joined Integrated Marketing Agency Bloom ( ) as Non Executive Director which has just been bought by Jaywing plc. Additionally Gurdev bought his own printing company Northwolds Ltd ( and is Managing Consultant for Paragon Europe( ) Gurdev is very well connected in the industry with long-term senior level relationships with blue chip institutions as well as various industry bodies and service providers. Gurdev is President of The Yorkshire Committee of The Printing Charity
( ) and has recently been co-opted as a Trustee of The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Married to Dawn they have two grown up children and live in Leeds.

Richard Tripp

Richard is a partner at international law firm Pinsent Masons where he heads the restructuring team in Leeds. He qualified as a solicitor in 1996 and has nineteen years’ experience at leading law firms. He acts for banks, financial institutions, accountants and corporates in all aspects of insolvency and restructuring legal work including advising boards of directors of financially distressed companies on their statutory duties. Outside the office, Richard is a passionate supporter of nature conservation and biodiversity protection.

Richard was brought up on Anglesey where he developed his love of nature and spent many happy times visiting North Wales WT sites and other wild places. Richard has lived in Leeds since 2004. He is a strong supporter of the ‘Living Landscapes and Living Seas’ mission and proposed ‘Nature and Wellbeing Act’.

Over the years Richard has visited nearly all of the trust’s reserves, most with his 5 year old twin boys in tow for their regular Sunday adventures, and has witnessed some amazing wildlife moments in some fantastic locations. Such visits have also afforded Richard the opportunity to witness and experience first-hand the wide range of issues, and opportunities, the trust faces. Richard is a member of the United Kingdom Environmental Lawyers Association and sits on its Nature Conservation working party providing valuable insight and connections. Richard believes campaigning becomes a more powerful proposition using law as a tool. Richard hopes his strong legal background in the financial sector combined with his passion for the environment will be beneficial to the Trust.

David Counsell (Chair)

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 the demise of Cleveland, 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 returns to Cork as a visiting lecturer and lectures occasionally at Manchester University as well. His main academic interests are national, regional and local environmental planning policy. David has co-written two books and many journal articles on these themes 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 and was also as a trustee of the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts until 2012. Following that he acted as consultant for the Trusts for a project assessing the current status of the 'Rothschild Sites' in Ireland. He has been a volunteer with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust since late last year, helping staff deal with a range of planning matters and will be helping deliver staff training on planning.

David took on the role as Chair when Vanessa Schofield stepped down in spring 2016.

Patrick Hall

Paddy Hall 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, riparian owner and more recently Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. 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.
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. 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.

John MacArthur

John has been a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust member for over 20 years. For thirteen years he was a Trustee and for three years Chair of the Council.

Since he stood down in 2008 the Trust has changed substantially and John has tried to keep in loose touch with these expanding changes through contacts with officers, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust publications and meetings. Following the Trust's first formal contact with Rob Stoneman (he was CEO of Sheffield Wildlife Trust and John was Yorkshire's Chair) he knows him well. Making his contribution with fellow Trustees and the CEO should be a mutually valuable experience.

John's background and experience would seem to fit many sought-after Trustee requirements. Until retirement, a Professor of Economics, concerned with planning and budgeting, head of a (very profitable) self-financing university department, John was instrumental in introducing many advances in finance planning and management during his period as Trustee and Chair. As online Board Meeting summaries reflect, things are in ways different now, but the basics are always the same.

Bob Missin

Bob has always been interested in wildlife and was fortunate in being able to work in nature conservation through most of his working life. Initially with the Norfolk Naturalist and Lincolnshire Trusts for Nature Conservation, then with the old NCC and finally with a number of Local Authorities, including Derbyshire and Sheffield, Scarborough and finally York. Over the years Bob has gained considerable experience, initially in the most enjoyable of tasks surveying sites around in England and Scotland, but slowly becoming more involved in land management and for the last 20 years in both local and strategic planning.

Bob recently decided to retire; although he had always intended to finish up working on a nature reserve, 30 odd years of Morris dancing mis-use meant his knees weren't really up to it! Bob would however very much like to continue to help in nature conservation, to give something back for all of the pleasure it has given him. Bob believes the next few years are going to be very hard for wildlife conservation. Local authorities are under pressure with regard to development and if planning is to continue to take account of wildlife at a local level it will need support from the Trust. It is here that Bob feels he may be able to contribute most.

Bob finds the idea of retirement quite daunting and assisting the Trust in its role of protecting and enhancing Yorkshire's wildlife would give him considerable satisfaction.

Christine Packer

Christine's love of wildlife and concern for the natural environment grew whilst working as a geologist in the quarrying industry as a young graduate in the 1980s where she saw first hand in the field, the impact human activities are having on our wildlife and the environment. This led to Christine volunteering for the Beds and Cambs Wildlife Trust for several years, studying for an MSc in Environmental Management and a change in career direction.

Eventually Christine found herself working in the newly formed Environment Agency as part of a small team helping to ensure that the Agency's own business activities met best environment practice. Following a career break and a move to Yorkshire Christine currently works part time for the City of York Council in the Sustainable Travel team encouraging alternative ways of travelling to using the car.

At her previous home she created an area of native woodland and wildflower meadow to encourage wildlife, and now here in Yorkshire Christine and her family are doing the same. Christine is Secretary of her local Scout group and when not acting as taxi driver to her two teenage sons enjoys gardening (enthusiastically assisted by her hens) and walking. One day she hopes to have time to take up photography and beekeeping.

Christine's personal philosophy is that care for the environment should be part of everything we do. As a Trustee she would use her environmental knowledge for the benefit of the Trust and the wildlife it protects.

Joanna Royle

Joanna is a Chartered Marketer with 25 years experience, including at Board level, spanning public and private sectors.

As Head of Marketing and Supporter Development for the National Trust, Yorkshire & North East, Joanna has senior level experience in the UK's largest conservation charity. She leads regional marketing, visitor experience, fundraising, volunteering and community involvement, commercial and membership development and external affairs; and also has accountability for the provision of advice and support in these areas to enable property managers achieve their business objectives. As a member of the Regional Executive Team Joanna is jointly accountable for strategic planning and delivery to meet the regional KPIs and financial sustainability.

The ability to design and deliver an excellent and engaging visitor experience and deliver against increasingly challenging financial targets, without compromising conservation standards is key to the role.

Joanna believes strongly in partnership working and is used to representing organisations at national and regional level.

Joanna's 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. As Business Planning and Marketing Manager at the Peak District National Park she was responsible for income generation to support the Authority's conservation work and its public engagement and educational programme; she also has several years' private sector marketing experience.

Joanna is deeply passionate about wildlife and the natural world. She would relish the opportunity to volunteer her expertise to support and advise Yorkshire Wildlife Trust in its quest to conserve Yorkshire's wildlife.

Hugh Williamson

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 Hugh and his wife introduced their own children to the pleasures and importance of nature with the help of the York Watch group in the 1980's.

Since retiring three years ago Hugh has had the time to become a regular volunteer on practical workdays on Trust nature reserves around York and he is a member of the Moorlands Supporter Group.

Hugh has over two decades experience of working at a senior level in North Yorkshire County Council, including leader of the scrutiny and corporate performance team supporting the executive and non-executive councillors to improve the council's services. Hugh came to this corporate management and governance role after a career as a social worker and senior social services manager.

Hugh's first degree was in economics (Cambridge), followed by social work (York), management studies (Leeds Beckett) and public health management (Leeds).

Hugh is a founding trustee of a charity that supports people with disabilities in Sri Lanka. He took the charity through the registration process with the Charity Commission and therefore has a good understanding of the commission's requirements and the role of a Trustee.

Hugh would be very pleased if his knowledge of human relations, corporate and charity governance and his management skills could contribute to the future work of the Trust as a Board member.

Alastair Fitter

Alastair has been a member of YWT for over 40 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.

Mike Cooke

Mike joined as a co-opted Trustee in December 2015 having recently retired as Chief Executive at several successful NHS Foundation Trusts finishing his career in Nottingham. Mike was brought up in Leeds and is delighted to be back in Yorkshire and lives along the Pocklington Canal at Storwood.

There is now time to put into his long held passion for wildlife, particularly birds and especially owls and so is delighted to be a Trustee to support the wider development and governance of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

Mike is Chair of MindTech, is an Executive Coach and Mentor and has chaired many research grants and partnerships between health, higher education and industry. Mike received a CBE in 2010 for services to mental health.

Martin Randle

Martin is a Chartered Accountant, now retired from full time work 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 where he joined Plessey Telecoms as Financial Controller. 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, and became a supporter of the local ”Save the Rhino” group.

He has now lived in Sheffield for many years and after a late change of career he became a civil servant, so learning a different culture and way of working. Martin finds the nearby Peak District an inspiring place for all ages to enjoy the great outdoors.
Following an unexpected move with his wife’s job, Martin recently lived for five years in Hong Kong which proved to be an excellent base for travel across South East Asia and Australia with opportunities to see a whole new range of wildlife. Surprisingly, 40% of Hong Kong is National Park and the Wetlands are an important wintering stopover for rare birds. Potentially these, like others elsewhere, are threatened with further building and population expansion and Martin firmly believes that pressure to preserve wildlife sites and reserves and to raise public awareness is paramount.

Martin is now the voluntary Company Secretary for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway Enterprises PLC, (the business side of the Railway), and a Railway Pension Trustee. As a Trustee of YWT he hopes to contribute some of his extensive practical finance experience in a common sense way and to become a volunteer at ground level at the local reserves.