The collective - RSWT
Our work wouldn't be possible without the support of our members but also the dedication of our staff and volunteers as well as our wider network of 46 Wildlife Trusts that come together to form The Wildlife Trusts movement.
The Wildlife Trusts is a movement made up of 46 Wildlife Trusts: independent charities who all share a mission to create living landscapes and living seas and a society where nature matters.
More than 800,000 members and 40,000 volunteers work together with their Wildlife Trust to make their local area wilder and make nature part of life, for everyone.
Find out more about our support system below.
The Wildlife Trusts’ Council is the leadership group for collective strategy in the movement. It has direct governance responsibility for the central charity. You can read more about our Council here
RSWT honorary officers
Tony Juniper CBE
Sir David Attenborough OM CH CVO CBE FRS
Simon King OBE
Prof Chris Baines
Prof David Macdonald CBE DSc FRS
Bill Oddie OBE
Sir Robert Worcester KBE DL
Stephanie Hilborne OBE
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust - Our Team
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust's work is made possible by the support of dedicated staff and volunteers which are overseen by a board of trustees.
SWT Honorary officers
Patron - Ian Dudson
Our Trustees are a group of volunteers who hold the financial and legal responsibility for everything the Trust does.
Our Trustees bring a wide range of knowledge, expertise and experience to the charity and are responsible for approving our strategic plans, annual budget and Annual Report & Accounts.
Richard Higgs - Chairman
I joined the Board of Staffordshire Wildlife Trust in 2010, following my retirement from full-time employment. I was the Chair of the former Operations Committee from 2012, before becoming Vice Chairman of the Trust in 2014, and Chairman in 2015.
My final professional post was Director of Development Services for Staffordshire County Council, reporting to the Chief Executive. This involved responsibility for a portfolio of services including highways and transport, planning, economic development, waste disposal, environment and countryside services and management of the County Council’s property estate.
This followed my initial career as a qualified town planner and various other posts in the public and private sectors, including a spell with Toyota at Derby and 4 years with the former Staffordshire Training and Enterprise Council.
I have had a passion for wildlife for as long as I can remember, and my “specialist subject” is birds. Since my retirement I have been able to undertake volunteering work for both the Trust and previously for the RSPB Coombes Valley. I carry out the Breeding Woodland Bird Survey for the Trust’s Cotton Dell reserve which is just at the back of my house in Oakamoor. I have also taken part in Peregrine Watch on the Roaches during the last two seasons.
Alongside my wildlife interest, I am also a keen walker and gardener, both of which complement my bird-watching activities perfectly! I very much enjoy holidays in this country and abroad which also tend to include a wildlife element, such as trips to Peru and Sri Lanka in recent years.
Suzanne Carr - Vice Chair
Suzanne has 17 years’ experience in strategic roles across businesses in environment and regeneration and social care sectors.
Most recently CEO of a health and social care charity, Suzanne brings significant experience of leading charitable businesses, strategy development, identifying opportunities for and developing commercial services, stakeholder management and partnership building, service development and delivery and supporting and improving charity governance.
Suzanne began her environmental career after graduating in Town and Country Planning and worked for 15 years as a chartered Planner in development management, policy planning and regeneration roles for various local authorities including High Peak Borough, Derbyshire. It was here that she represented the local authority on The Goyt Valley, Longdendale Valley and Derwent Valley Management Steering Groups and the Mersey Valley Clean Up Campaign, gaining considerable experience of and a passion for multi disciplinary, cross boundary partnership working. Allies included the Peak District National Park Authority, United Utilities and Severn Trent Water, Forestry Commission, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, local farmers and recreation interest groups including British Horse Society and The Ramblers. Suzanne was a founding officer in the development and delivery of the Trans Pennine Trail establishing an essential section of this route from Tameside into Derbyshire.
In the late 1990s a change of career direction led her to beginning a 15 year stint working for the Groundwork foundation in Merseyside, for Groundwork UK and latterly Groundwork in the West Midlands holding operational, business development and Executive leadership roles, working with some of the most deprived and challenged communities in the UK, helping to change places and change lives through the medium of environment.
Back in the mid 1980s Suzanne established the High Peak Conservation Volunteers for the BTCV and for 3 years had great fun leading an award winning band of environmental volunteers undertaking habitat and landscape enhancing projects in and around the Derbyshire Peak District.
Suzanne first became a Trustee for SWT in 2010 and is currently Vice Chair and chairs the SWT Trading Ltd board. Governance experience is also accomplished with the Brighter Futures Housing Association and The National Forest and she is a Member of the Association of Chairs.
Paul Hackney - Secretary
I pursued my career as a local authority solicitor specialising in town and country planning, highways and related subjects. Always a passionate, hands-on conservationist, I spent my free time on wildlife rescue (rehabilitating and returning to the wild a variety of orphaned and injured creatures) and a Barn Owl breeding and release scheme to help supplement severely depleted wild stocks. Now retired, I can spend much more time on wildlife conservation.
My current activities include working as a member of the Barn Owl Action Group to provide nest boxes for Staffordshire’s Barn Owls and monitor their success, and membership of the Friends of Lyme Brook who carry out River Fly monitoring and other conservation work on this significant urban watercourse.
I joined Staffordshire Wildlife Trust over 10 years ago because its mission to safeguard and promote the county’s natural environment fitted in so well with my own interests and aspirations. Growing up in the Lake District, I fully appreciate the challenges of promoting enjoyment of the natural world for everyone whilst still protecting and enhancing wild places and wildlife. It is what makes being a trustee of Staffordshire Wildlife Trust such an exciting and worthwhile role.
Ian Downing - Treasurer
I joined the Board of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust in 2015.
I worked for Stoke on Trent City Council, retiring in 2009 having worked for the City Council for almost 40 years.
I am an accountant by profession, I qualified as a CIPFA accountant in 1983. My final professional post was Executive Support Manager within the Chief Executives Department, reporting directly to the Chief Executive. However, most of my career was in the Finance Directorate, the majority of that time as an Internal Auditor for the organisation. I spent my whole professional career working for Stoke on Trent City Council.
Wildlife has always been an interest, from my youth I have always been a keen walker, combining walking with my wildlife interest. I would say bird-watching is my most enjoyable pastime, but wildlife generally is always close to my heart. I am married to Sue and we have three grown up children, holidays in this country and abroad have always contained a wildlife perspective. I count myself most blessed in holidaying in Kenya a few years ago, the wildlife was truly stunning.
My interests include gardening and I enjoy the odd game of badminton in an attempt to maintain a degree of fitness, not sure it’s working!
I've been a teacher for over 20 years and have had a wide range of experience including headship, working with non-verbal, complex needs children and pupils who have been permanently excluded from school. I am currently a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator in two schools on the Warwickshire/Staffordshire border. In 2014 I qualified as a Forest School Practitioner and have great delivering sessions to a range of participants. I've lived in Staffordshire all my life and especially love Cannock Chase. I've enjoyed supporting some educational projects with the Trust and find the work it does with engaging children, families and schools invaluable - it is vital that Staffordshire's young people understand and appreciate it's wildlife and the importance of protecting it.
I was co-opted to the Board in February, 2018. My working life was in the automotive industry, firstly in an engineering consultancy and then in a global chemical company where I was responsible for facilities in the UK, USA, China and Japan.
I have been a member of my local Wildlife Trust – firstly Sussex, then Derbyshire, now Staffordshire
as well as Derbyshire – for more than 30 years. I completed a maximum 9-year term as a trustee for
DWT in 2017.
Notable recent wildlife successes (e.g. buzzards and red kites) fail to mask the true state of Britain’s
wildlife as detailed in the State of Nature report which reported that of 8,000 species in the UK some
56% had declined since 1970; in the past 40 years we have lost 44 million breeding birds; at the start
of the last century the UK had 4 million acres of flower-rich meadows only 1% of which remains.
It is for reasons such as these that I am committed to the Wildlife Trusts. In recent years, I’ve been
delighted to see the WTs adopt “Landscape-Scale” thinking, and leading campaigns such as that
against Hen Harrier persecution, whilst demonstrating best practice through a growing network of
Brought up in Warwickshire, I have worked in the nature conservation sector for over 20 years, the last 12 years being in Staffordshire as Principal Ecologist for the County Council. This post meant that I got to know and love Staffordshire and it’s special and varied habitats as well as meeting many of the dedicated and knowledgeable people who work so hard to protect and enhance Staffordshire’s wildlife. My work included involvement in land use planning, minerals and waste developments and transport infrastructure. I found that collaborative working means that it can be possible (though sadly it often is not achieved) to build effective wildlife protection and enhancement into new development.
A key to success is building and maintaining partnerships across sectors. I retired in April 2018 and felt that I wanted to use some of my spare time to continue to contribute and I was delighted to be asked to become a Trustee as Staffordshire Wildlife Trust has such a fundamental role in the County through not only the reserves and education work but, crucially, strategic and partnership projects and working with the development sector. I am a keen birdwatcher and get huge pleasure from the natural environment with a particular love of grassland habitats and their diverse flora.
I studied biology at university and then trained as a Landscape Architect; and throughout my career I was fortunate enough to work in the fields of landscape and nature conservation. I worked for several local authorities, and then spent eleven years working for the Countryside Agency and its successor Natural England, where I led the organisation’s work on regional planning, and landscape, in the West Midlands region.
On retirement, I wanted to use my environmental knowledge and experience in the voluntary sector. I had worked in partnership with the Trust and was familiar with its aims and range of work, so I responded to a request for new Trustees in 2013.
I am also a member of the Board of Staffordshire Wildlife Trading, and am currently involved in the Wolseley Project Board. I have a particular interest in landscape scale conservation and provide Trustee support to projects such as Transforming the Trent Valley Washlands, and Cannock Chase.
I remain passionate about the need to conserve wildlife and wild places for people to enjoy, and for their intrinsic value. My work with the Trust allows me to contribute to these aims in my local area.
SWT Trustee since 2012
Working for property development specialists St.Modwen since 2004. Head of the Trentham Estate and Garden overseeing the wider business operation and improvement of the garden and estate as both a visitor destination and historic landscape. The garden was elected BBC Country file Garden of the Year in 2015, and European winner of the EGHN Award in 2010.
Previously responsible for the gardens at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire for Lord Jacob Rothschild. Career to date includes working in many great gardens and estates in private ownership or those belonging to the National Trust such as Harewood House, Powis Castle, Mount Stewart, Castle Drogo and Beningbrough Hall. Michael has experience in visitor and estate management which he is keen to share. He has been involved in the management agreement between SWT and St. Modwen to create new woodland and wildlife areas at Branston and between St Modwen and SWT in regard to Trentham and the Staffordshire Trent Valley Catchment Partnership.
Ruth retired from an academic career of 25 years at Staffordshire University, first as a Psychology Lecturer, eventually moving to Head of Psychology, Associate Dean for Learning & Teaching, and finally Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. She was for some years Chair of the University Ethics Committee. She has worked externally as an assessor for the Quality Assurance Agency, as an external examiner for a number of other universities, and for her professional body, the British Psychological Society, as Chair of their Undergraduate Accreditation Committee. Prior to her academic career Ruth worked for 7 years as an analytical chemist in the plastics industry.
A lifelong interest in wildlife, especially wild flowers, has now led to an interest in conservation. Ruth volunteers for the Trust in the office at Wolseley, and is membership secretary of her local nature reserve support group (Friends of Mottey Meadows). Ruth acted as project manager for the Living Seas initiative on behalf of the Trust and became a Trustee in 2012.
Elliott is a recent First-Class (Hons) graduate in Accounting and Finance from Keele University. He has worked closely with many local authorities to improve multiple levels of waste management services and further develop information on fly tipping; where he has recently won a coveted Winner Green Gown Award in the Enterprise category, as well as receiving a ‘Highly Commended’ from Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce. He has always been passionate about wildlife and the environment and is very excited to have taken up the role as Trustee. He currently is the the Education Officer at Keele University and Trustee of Keele University Student’s Union, where he is actively involved in gathering student feedback and is member of the Quality and Academic Standards sub-committee to ensure that new programmes and schools meet the requirements from professional bodies.
Details coming soon
The contact details for our heads of department and managers can be seen below.
James Dennison - Head of Fundraising, Communications and Membership
Sue Chance - Head of Commercial Operations
Jo Olivant - People Engagement Manager
Phone: 01889 880107