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.


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.



Matthew Bell - pic

Matthew Bell MCIM

Matthew Bell is a Chartered Institute of Marketing and Chartered Institute of Public Relations qualified communications professional with over 10 years’ experience in the third sector. As Head of Marketing and Communications at Bristol’s St Peter’s Hospice, he is responsible for raising awareness of the work of one of the city’s best loved charities, and for promoting a large portfolio of fundraising activities generating over £20,000 every day. Matthew is a member of the South West steering committee of CharityComms, the membership organisation for charity communications professionals, and he also acts as a mentor for other professionals in the sector. Matthew lives in the Mendips & sits on the panel of the Mendip Hills Fund, which is responsible for deciding on applications for funding of projects that support the landscape, education and social and economic development of the Mendip Hills area of outstanding natural beauty.    

Steve Newman pic

Steve Newman

Originally from the South East, Steve studied Accountancy at Lancaster University, having chosen it for its proximity to the Lake District & all the outdoor activities he could enjoy there!  He has had a varied career in the private & public sectors, including Central Government. He has led large complex organisations in Directorships ranging from Finance, to Corporate Services to Operations & has taught at local colleges and Universities, including Warwick. His passion for the outdoors and conservation volunteering has remained constant throughout his life.  He has been a voluntary warden at different reserves, been a trustee & managed a woodland for a children’s charity for over 30 years & run conservation volunteer groups, training courses, & other woodland activities. Since retiring to Somerset 5 years ago, Steve has been heavily involved in several voluntary projects, including woodland management, conservation & experimental archaeology. He has recently taken up beekeeping.

Simon Hicks - pic








Simon Hicks

After leaving the army, Simon returned to Exmoor in 1969 from where he undertook forestry, game-keeping, hill farming, nature reserve and national park wardening, while studying for a certificate in field biology.  He joined the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers as Field Officer, became first Regional Officer in the SE, finishing as Director. In 1976 he joined the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Jersey, where he was responsible for finance, fundraising, memberships and publications, while developing an International Training Centre, species recovery programmes overseas, and the Zoo organic farm.  On retirement he chaired a small conservation foundation while studying for an MSc in Responsibility and (Conservation) Practice.  He is a volunteer and reserve warden for SWT.

Matt Trimmer








Matt Trimmer

Matt brings ten years’ experience in senior management with the National Trust, the UK’s largest conservation charity.  Most recently, this included three years as strategy director where Matt developed and implemented a strategy focused on restoring the health of the natural environment.  Having completed an MBA at the University of Bath during that period, Matt now works as head of strategy at Macmillan Cancer Support.  This experience of strategy and finance inside conservation, membership, fundraising organisations is what Matt hopes to bring to Somerset Wildlife Trust.  He lives in the Mendips with his young family, is a keen walker, runner, cyclist and historian, and is a Trustee at the Bishop’s Palace, Wells.

Terry Rowell pic
Terry Rowell (DipHE, BSc, PhD)

Terry came to conservation via a degree in Environmental Biology at Oxford Polytechnic, and research at Cambridge University into the history and management of Wicken Fen. After a spell researching reclamation of colliery spoil at Nottingham University, he joined the peatlands team at the Nature Conservancy Council to research and write a peatlands management handbook, but lent a hand in significant work on the Flowe Country. Then, as a private consultant, he worked for a wide range of organisations including the National Trust, Wildlife Link, English Nature, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.  Notable projects included research into the health of SSSIs, and recommendations that formed the basis of how SSSIs are now monitored and reported on. Subsequently, he joined the Countryside Council for Wales where he was a member of the Executive Board and Head of Environmental Audit, looking after various activities such as biodiversity information, monitoring and state of the environment reporting. Since retiring, he has published research on conservation planning, and recently moved to Somerset to be nearer to family

Val Brown

Professor Valerie (Val) Brown

Val has been an active member of Somerset Wildlife Trust since moving to Stawley (nr Wellington) 13 years ago and was a founding member of the Strategic Advisory Board.  She is currently a member of Council of the National Trust and a member of its SW Regional Advisory Board. Val’s career was in academia, specialising in ecology and conservation, particularly in the agricultural environment.  She was Professor of Agro-Ecology and Director of the Centre for Agri-Environmental Research (CAER) at the University of Reading. Most of Val’s early career was spent at Imperial College, The University of London, from where she moved to become Director of the CABI International Institute of Entomology in London, an inter-governmental organisation, and subsequently its Director of Environment.

Val has served as scientific advisor to Defra and Natural England’s agri-environment research programme for over 10 years.  She has been a member of NERC Council, Defra’s Research Priorities Group and Science Advisory Group and English Nature’s Natural Sciences Advisory Group and held positions in various international organisations.  She has been Vice President of the British Ecological and the Royal Entomological Societies and Council member of RSPB.  She was a member of the UK Government’s ‘Making Space for Nature’ panel, the results of which are now pivotal in landscape conservation goals in the UK.  In any spare time, Val enjoys gardens and gardening and is a keen bird watcher and field botanist.