Somerset Wildlife Trust

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Patricia Stainton (MA RCA) - Chair

Growing up in the Lake District, Patricia acquired a deep interest in the natural world which has developed into a passion over the years. With an MA RCA from the Royal College of Art, where she is a Fellow, she followed a career in Art and Design, teaching in a number of Art Colleges and working as a Design Consultant. She is also joint partner in the design company Studio Levien. Patricia has played an active role within the Trust since 1995 when she joined the South East Area Group committee and was Chair for 8 years. More than most, Patricia has a huge appreciation of the important contribution made by volunteers and members. She lives near Bruton, where she manages 40 acres of land including two Local Wildlife Sites, primarily as a nature reserve.


Sarah Nason - Vice Chair

Sarah has had a long civil service career working in a range of HQ policy and corporate management roles, including head of Defra’s flood management division, sponsor of the Environment Agency and CEO of the Farming and Rural Conservation Agency which became part of Natural England. She is currently a public appointee on the Wessex Regional Flood and Coastal Committee where she champions sustainable flood risk management which also benefits biodiversity and natural resources. Sarah has had a lifelong interest in the natural world and is passionate about the range of landscape and habitats that Somerset has to explore. She lives in the Quantocks where she enjoys bird watching, walking, wildlife gardening and nature photography. 


John Scotford (CBE, CPFA) - Treasurer

John’s professional career has mainly been spent in local government finance, becoming County Treasurer of Hampshire County Council, where he was awarded the CBE for services to local government, and has also served as President of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy. He has worked as a public finance consultant in a number of countries and, in addition, has extensive experience on the boards of not-for-profit organisations both in England and also in Australia, where he lived for six years - including the National Audit Office and Winchester Cathedral Council in this country. He returned to Somerset in 2011 and joined the Somerset Wildlife Trust and, at the same time, became a volunteer on The Bridgwater and Taunton Canal.


Helen Lawy (MEd)

Born and raised on a Northumberland farm and trained as a teacher, Helen taught for thirty years in primary schools in Grimsby and Jersey.  She moved to Taunton in 2001. During the last sixteen years she has been involved in raising the profile of the environment within Taunton.  Already a member of the Trust, Helen chaired the Taunton Deane Area Group Committee, and now helps coordinate a varied programme of events which focus on fostering strong community engagement with the town’s green spaces, and bringing wildlife and natural experiences to young people in an urban setting. She has been very involved in the Routes to the River Tone project and as a result of this work has established a Green Forum which brings together all volunteers who help nurture their local green space.  


Melville Trimble

Melville has spent the majority of his working life as a corporate financier and advisor to the financial services industry and retains therein a number of non-executive roles. Since retiring to the Quantocks in Somerset, he has become involved in a number of local charities. He has, since childhood, been interested in natural history generally, although his main interest was, and still is, in Lepidoptera. He is a strong advocate that the management of our countryside, for the benefit of both the wildlife and people, needs to go beyond the simple accumulation of reserves by the Trust and must involve the wider engagement of all land owners.


Martin Stanley

Martin has been a stalwart supporter of the Trust for many years, particularly its landscape-scale projects and sponsoring training for new staff and education projects. Before taking early retirement and moving to Somerset, Martin worked in a family run telecommunications company. He then established and ran a financial publishing company and was also a part time director of a couple of software development companies. With part of the profits from the sale of the family business he set up a charity run from home for twenty years, sponsoring a range of environmental, education and wildlife conservation projects in Latin America, Africa and UK, including Somerset Wildlife Trust.


Nicky Saunter (MSc)

Nicky came to conservation via a wider interest in sustainability gained from living in Asia. Initially trained in journalism, she has set up a series of businesses focusing on ethical principles, including the regional cafe group, The Boston Tea Party, the Woolly Shepherd acoustics firm, and Learning from the Land training. She is now chief executive at a Bristol-based drug policy think-tank. She believes that Somerset Wildlife Trust is well placed to use its local support to change the way we value Somerset’s natural assets and collaborate in caring for our wider landscape. She is also a fan of rewilding. Nicky is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and a Fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce).


Phil Holms

Phil brings more than forty years of conservation management and people engagement expertise to the Trust, working for wildlife, landscape and heritage in different parts of the UK for Nature Conservancy Council, English Nature and finally Natural England, until his retirement in 2012 in the role of Senior Reserves Manager South West. One of his particular interests is the protection of birds of prey, and he has been a Trustee for the Hawk and Owl Trust for the last four years. He is also a Voluntary Warden for Natural England at Shapwick Heath, and chaired the Steering Group of the successful Avalon Marshes Landscape Partnership HLF Project.


Richard Denton-Cox (BSc CEng FICE)

Richard came to Somerset as a young child and was educated at Taunton School, where Ernest Neal, a founder of the Wildlife Trust, taught him biology and instilled a lifelong interest in the environment. He obtained an honours degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. On graduating he joined an international engineering and environmental consultancy and remained with them for the rest of his career, rising from the most junior engineer to Managing Director. His working life was spent mainly overseas, based in Oman, Hong Kong and Malaysia, and he has travelled extensively throughout Asia managing a wide variety of infrastructure projects. On retirement in 2003, Richard returned to Taunton and the family home in Staplehay; he was formerly Treasurer of the Trust.