Our people

Our people

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


HRH The Prince of Wales


Liz Bonnin

President Emeritus

Sir David Attenborough OM CH CVO CBE FRS

Simon King OBE

Tony Juniper

Vice Presidents

Bill Oddie OBE

Prof Chris Baines

Gillian Burke 

Julian Pettifer

Nick Baker

Prof David Macdonald CBE DSc FRS

Sir Robert Worcester KBE DL


Peta Foxall

Chief Executive

Craig Bennett 


You can find more about The Wildlife Trust Ambassadors here 

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

Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire


Vice Presidents

Michael Swales

Vince Smith 

Mike Dilger

Our Trustees

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

Richard Higgs

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.

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, Sri Lanka and Australia in recent years.

Paul Hackney - Secretary

Paul Hackney

I joined the Board at the AGM in 2015.

I retired in 2014 from the post of Head of Legal Services with Stoke-on-Trent City Council.  Having been a local government lawyer throughout my career (specialising in town and country planning and related areas), I am well-versed in public law matters, such as highways and footpaths, common land and bye-laws, as well as the wider organisational challenges of using constantly decreasing resources to meet ever increasing demands. 

I am a hands-on conservationist.  Co-founding Staffordshire and Cheshire Barn Owl Conservation Project in the 1980s, I ran a Barn Owl breeding and release project for many years, predominantly in Staffordshire, in collaboration with Chester Zoo and Keele University.  The project also relied heavily on voluntary support from a wide range of individuals and organisations.  Although the last of several hundred releases of captive-bred birds took place in 2000, I have continued to monitor nest sites in Staffordshire and am currently an active member of the Barn Owl Action Group, which is affiliated to Staffordshire Wildlife Trust.

I am a published author, having written a number of magazine articles about wildlife and conservation over the years.  Most recently, my book telling the story of the Barn Owl project (“Growing Barn Owls in my Garden”) was published by Whittles Publishing (2011).

I have recently extended my skills by completing a two-year part-time course in Biological Recording and Species Identification.

Most importantly, I have had a passionate interest in wildlife and conservation since my childhood growing up in the Lake District, an area which exemplifies the difficulties of promoting an enjoyment of, and involvement in, the natural world for all, whilst protecting and enhancing wild places and the wildlife found in them.   I seek to use my skills and energies to help Staffordshire Wildlife Trust meet these, and other, challenges in the county I have called home for the last 30 years.

Ian Downing - Treasurer

Ian Downing

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!

Lisa Stephenson


I am a qualified teacher with over 20 years’ experience working within both mainstream and special schools.  Currently I work as a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator in two North Warwickshire schools.  Recently I have taken up a new role as visiting lecturer for Birmingham City University working with students studying for degrees in early childhood education.  My other work is delivering Forest school sessions to schools, toddlers and home educators as part of my own business.

Nature and wildlife is important to me on many levels - for promoting inclusion, for well being, for understanding and appreciating the world around us. Nesting hedgehogs in my garden bring me such joy as does walking on Cannock Chase and spending time outdoors with my family.

Philip Shore

Philip Shore

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 those against Hen Harrier persecution and badger culling.  Whilst we have some beautiful landscape in England, we have very little that is truly wild – so I am also passionate about the opportunities for wildlife offered through rewilding – from leaving grass verges uncut to encourage wild flowers through to landscape-level rewilding schemes. 

Alison Glaisher

Alison Glaisher

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.  

Nick Young

Nick Young

I graduated from Sheffield University in 1974 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 including Walsall MBC, where I was head of the Landscape and Conservation Group within the Planning Department. I 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.

I retired from Natural England in 2011; and have been a Trust member since 2006, and a Trustee since 2013. I am involved in Project Boards set up to oversee the re-development of the Wolseley Centre and grounds, and to take forward the Trust’s work on carbon reduction and sustainability.  I have a particular interest in Planning and in landscape scale conservation, including projects such as Transforming the Trent Valley Washlands. I am also a member of the RSPB, and submit records for the BTO.

I live in Barton under Needwood, and also enjoy hill walking, gardening, and an allotment; and musical activities - playing the ukulele and as a member of a community choir. 

Michael Walker

Michael Walker

SWT Trustee since 2012 

Recently set up as a consultant (nationalgardensspecialist.co.uk) providing historic estates in the UK with a bespoke service to support their management and with their recruitment.

Between 2004 and 2019 supporting property development specialists St.Modwen as Head of the Trentham Estate and Garden overseeing the wider business operation and improvement of the garden and estate. The garden was elected BBC Country file Garden of the Year in 2015, and European winner of the EGHN Award in 2010.

Prior to this I was 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. I have 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.

I have recently presented a paper at the international Sibbaldia Conference discussing Diversity and Inclusion, the Environment and Climate Change, and how our values and principals help guide our future understanding of best practice.

Elliott Lancaster

Elliott Lancester - Trustee

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 the highly coveted Winner Green Gown Award (Enterprise), 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 is the former Education Officer and Trustee of Keele University Student’s Union, where he is still actively involved in gathering student feedback.

David Rogers

David is a qualified engineer and accountant, and most of his career has been spent re-orientating private sector corporations which found themselves in financial difficulty. Over the last ten years he has been increasingly involved in the public sector, developing a longer-term strategic plan for Stoke and Staffordshire, and for the regeneration of Burslem. More recently he has served on the board of Combined Healthcare, the NHS trust responsible for mental health across North Staffordshire, and for the last four years has chaired the trust, which is now one of only two specialist mental health trusts across the country rated as Outstanding.  David is also a governor of Stoke-on-Trent College.

He joined the Wildlife trust three years ago as a member of the board of the Trading company, and earlier last year became a trustee.  David is now Chair of the Trading Board.

He has been involved in outdoor activities and conservation all his life, teaching mountain leadership and leading the movement which prevented coalbed methane extraction across North Staffordshire.

David Rogers

Tony Gadsby

Trustee, trading only 

Alana Wheat

Alana graduated from Keele University with a first class honours in Geography. During her time at Keele, she established the award winning Keele Wildlife Society encouraging students to connect with nature whilst at university. This work was recognised by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust with a medal on their 50th Anniversary AGM. Along with Wildlife society, Alana has coordinated the Keele Hedgehog Friendly Campus initiative in partnership with the British Hedgehog Preservation society. Alana assists the Keele University sustainability team as the Senior Sustainability Intern through supporting sustainability projects and initiatives. Currently Alana is working towards a Masters in Geographical and Environmental Research with a focus on climate change, conservation and youth engagement.

Alana is thrilled to be part of the board having been a member of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust since before she can remember and having completed work experience at the Wolseley Centre in 2014.

In her spare time, Alana is on the committees of two local youth clubs and is a trustee of the local charity Staffordshire Council of Voluntary Youth Services (SCVYS).


Stephen Smith

I took early retirement in 2020 after 43 years working for the world’s largest Caterpillar Dealer Finning International. As a qualified Engineer I entered into Senior Management and held several senior positions for over 25 years in Operations and Supply Chain, responsible for £500M p.a. As the General Manager for Supply Chain for Finning UK and Ireland I was responsible for creating and executing the International Supply Chain Strategies across Canada, South America and UK.

I chose to retire early to focus on building our own eco house and manage our small holding along with my Wife Judith who also chairs the Staffordshire Business Environment Network. I have a passion for the environment and a great deal of experience in business management, I strongly believe that every member of the business should understand the vision and goals, setting clear plans to execute through teamwork and collaboration.

I have a real concern for Climate Change and the impact on the planet and believe that all businesses should adopt the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

I have been a member of SWT for over 20 years after being recruited by my father-in-law Edward Turvey, himself a long serving member and volunteer.

My wildlife interest is in creating the right environment for nature to thrive by itself and live alongside it. We have built a bat loft in our house and have Long Eared Brown Bats, we are creating wild flower meadows on our small holding and planting more trees and hedges.

I love the outdoors, being a very keen walker of hills and mountains, completing Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk in 2020, and a gardener who grows everything organically, producing all our fruit and vegetables.

With my passion for the environment, wildlife and my extensive business skills I seek to support the SWT with its goals


Our staff

The details for our heads of department and managers can be seen below. 

Julian Woolford - Chief Executive

Julian Woolford

Email: j.woolford@staffs-wildlife.org.uk

Phone: 01889 880102

Ben Carter - Head of Fundraising, Communications and Membership

Carol Gamble - HR Manager

Email: c.gamble@staffs-wildlife.org.uk

Phone: 01889 880128

Jo Olivant - Head of People Engagement & Resources

Email: j.olivant@staffs-wildlife.org.uk

Phone: 01889 880107

Jeff Sim - Senior Conservation Manager

Email: j.sim@staffs-wildlife.org.uk

Phone: 01889 880116

David Cadman - Senior Conservation Manager

Email: d.cadman@staffs-wildlife.org.uk

Phone: 01889 880118