Our Structure and Governance

The North of England Zoological Society has a number of honorary positions, along with a Board of Trustees who help guide the management of Chester Zoo and Act for Wildlife.

Our Vice Presidents

The Rt Hon Lord Wade of Chorlton, kt, JP

The Hon Lady Jane Heber-Percy

Our Board of Trustees

The Trustees, as a body of charity trustees and as directors for the purposes of company law, have general control and management of the administration of NEZS. They determine the strategic direction and policies of the Society, with consultation and discussion with the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operations Officer of the Society as Principal Executives and their staff who implement policy.

The number of Trustees shall be not less than three and not more than 16 of whom not more than 13 shall be Elected Trustees and not more than five shall be Co-opted Trustees. Elected Trustees, who must be members of the Society, are elected by the members at the Annual General Meeting to serve for a maximum of six years. Co-opted Trustees are co-opted by the Trustees, to serve for up to 15 months from being appointed.

The Trustees hold at least four formal meetings each year, together with an Annual General Meeting. The Chair of Trustees and Vice Chair of Trustees are elected by the Trustees from their current membership, for a period not exceeding three years before re-election for a maximum of one further term not exceeding three years, during which times they are not required to retire in accordance with the six year maximum.

The Vice Chairs take responsibility of Mission Enabling (business operations), and Mission Delivery (conservation, science and education).

The Key Responsibilities of the Trustees

With other Trustees to hold the Society "in Trust" for current and future beneficiaries by:

  • ensuring that the Society has a clear mission and strategic direction and is focused on achieving these;
  • being responsible for the performance of the Society and for its “corporate” behaviour;
  • ensuring that the Society complies with all legal and regulatory requirements;
  • acting as guardians of the Society’s assets, both tangible and intangible, taking all due care over their security, deployment and proper application; and
  • ensuring that the Society’s governance is of the highest possible standard.

Bruce Ursell

Chair of Trustees - Mr Bruce Ursell

Had a career in the City of London eventually becoming CEO of two merchant banks and director of a FTSE 100 company. Chaired the management board of a top ten accounting firm. Commenced working life by spending five years in sub-Saharan Africa. From 1998 he spent 12 years as a non-executive director of the London arm of the largest bank in Africa and has more recently chaired entities managing private and European Government investments in emerging markets, particularly in Africa.

William Beale

Vice Chair (Mission Delivery) - Mr William Beale

Head of Programme Operations, WWF-UK. After working for 10 years with Unilever as a Chartered Chemical Engineer in various innovation, development and manufacturing roles, joined WWF in 2003. His work focuses on developing the organisation, its processes and people, to achieve increased impact and value for money from conservation programmes overseas and in the UK. Represents WWF on the Conservation Measures Partnership, a partnership of conservation organisations that seek better ways to design, manage, and measure the impacts of their conservation actions.

 Malcolm Ardron

Vice Chair (Mission Enabling) - Mr Malcolm Ardron

Company Managing Director and Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. After studying Engineering Science at Oxford University a career in both public and private sectors ranging from construction of nuclear power stations, road and rail projects, industrial and commercial buildings; consultant to nuclear and manufacturing sectors in UK and Europe on commercial dispute resolution including Expert Witness to Court (Technology & Construction Division). Currently Managing Director of a company providing engineering and construction services.


Catherine Buckley

Mrs Catherine Buckley MA (Oxon), PGCE
Retired Headmistress of The Queen’s School, Chester. After studying Modern Languages at Oxford, she spent two years teaching in Southern Germany. Has since taught for most of her career at leading independent schools in the North West. She retired after nine years as headmistress of The Queen’s School in summer 2010. She is also a Vice Chair of Governors at Bolton School.

 Edwin Christmas Mr Edwin Christmas BSc (Hons), FRICS
A property consultant and Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors practicing in the commercial and rural property sectors.  Formerly the Estate Director at Eaton Estate, Chester and Agent to the 6th Duke of Westminster, responsible for the stewardship and management of this 4000-hectare diverse estate.  Graduated with a degree in Rural Estate Management in 2000 and qualified as a Chartered Surveyor in 2002, having since worked for several leading family landed estates across the UK.  Edwin has an affinity for the countryside and conservation and is a member of the Royal Forestry Society and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust.

Penny Coates Mrs Penny Coates BSc (Hons), MBA
Former Managing Director of the Manchester Airports Group, Director of Asda and Non Executive Director of the Cooperative Society Specialist Businesses, Penny has held senior roles in Retail, Aviation, Manufacturing and Financial Services. Penny is now semi retired to allow her to focus on Non Executive Director and Trustee roles.  Always a lover of wildlife and the great outdoors, Penny grew up on a farm, is a keen amateur fruit and vegetable gardener and enjoys lengthy countryside walks with her dogs.

Sandra Donnelly

Mrs Sandra Donnelly BSc (Hons), PGCE
Following a career in financial services, Sandra teaches Economics and Business Studies at the Fallibroome Academy and is also pursuing a MA in Education. Formerly the Chief Executive of the Economics, Business and Enterprise Association she was responsible for building relationships with a range of stakeholders including government bodies, academics and education professionals. She also has co-ordinated partnerships with schools in South Africa, China and Australia. A regular visitor of Chester Zoo since childhood, Sandra credits the zoo for inspiring a lifelong love of wildlife. She has travelled widely to experience wildlife habitats and has visited zoos and conservation projects across the world. Through these experiences and close links to Port Moresby Nature Park, in Papua New Guinea, she has gained a practical understanding of the challenges facing zoos and conservationists.

Professor Richard Griffiths

Prof Richard A. Griffiths BSc, PhD, FRSB
Professor of Biological Conservation in the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) at the University of Kent. A passion for reptiles and amphibians has involved Richard in conservation projects in Madagascar, the Seychelles, Latin America and Africa, as well as long-term work on UK species. An advocate of the powerful role that zoos can play in conservation, education and applied research, he is a member of the IUCN Reintroductions Specialist Group, and has chaired several working groups on translocation and reintroduction themes. Richard is also an Honorary International Conservation Research Fellow at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (Jersey), a Trustee of the Wildwood Trust and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, and President of the British Herpetological Society.

Russell Newton

Prof Russell Newton BSc, PhD, DSc, FRSC
Professor of Biochemistry at Swansea University until retirement in 2008, when elected Emeritus Professor, and formerly Lead Director of Biomolecular Analysis Mass Spectrometry Facility. As a biochemist, involved in various multidisciplinary projects, including the development of Seracitin®, an antibiotic extracted from natural sources, and of DisiAq®, which has attained publicity recently for its contribution in stimulating the first successful breeding of rare endangered frogs at Paignton Zoo. Currently Chair of Scientific Advisory Board of Endocrine Pharmaceuticals.

Angela Pinnington

Miss Angela Pinnington BSc (Hons)
Management Consultant specialising in Business Performance Improvement and Strategy. Currently running a business providing management training and coaching. Also a trustee of Ariel Trust, an education charity working with disadvantaged young people. Previously a director of UK and Irish companies.

 Paula Spence Mrs Paula Spence
Paula has been a member of Chester Zoo for over 10 years and regularly visits with her family. A graduate of Liverpool University, she has worked in Health and Social Care for over 14 years, currently holding a Directors post for a large charity. Coming from this background Paula is particularly keen to be involved in areas of zoo business and development that look at governance, working in partnership and customer experience. She has a lot of experience in regulatory standards and quality assurance from her work in local government and the NHS. Her favourite animals to seek out at the Zoo are the capybara or the giraffes although she always steers away from the tarantulas.

Simon Venables

Mr Simon Venables FCA MBA MA (Cantab) BA (Hons)
Assistant Finance Director and Head of Internal Audit at Bibby Line Group in Liverpool, with previous experience as Audit Senior Manager at KPMG. A Chartered Accountant, spent 13 years with KPMG in Liverpool after graduating from Cambridge University (Geography) in 2000. Completed an MBA at Manchester Business School in 2009.


Audit and Risk Management (Chair: Simon Venables)

Ethical Review (Chair: Prof Russell Newton)

Remuneration (Chair: Bruce Ursell)

Company Secretary: Nick Clarke - Aaron & Partners LLP

Advisors to the Trustees

  • Mr Brian Coles
  • Dr Julian Chantrey
  • Mr Michael Stanford
  • Mr Simon Bleckly
  • Dr Thomas Webb
  • Prof Richard Preziosi


Annual Reports

Our annual reports can be downloaded from our website here.

For all matters relating to Trustees please contact:

Emma Powell
Executive Assistant
01244 650201

The North of England Zoological Society is a company limited by guarantee and registered in England no. 287902.

Our registered charity no. is 306077 and our VAT no. is 595 7286 79.

A copy of our zoo license can be downloaded here.