Meet Our Trustees


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.

Chair of Trustees – Malcolm Ardron

Malcolm is a company managing director providing engineering and construction services; and Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. After studying Engineering Science at Oxford University, he has worked 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).

Deputy Chair of Trustees – Penny Coates BSc (Hons), MBA, DL

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.

William Beale

Will is Head of Network Standards at WWF International. After working for 10 years with Unilever as a Chartered Chemical Engineer in various innovation, development and manufacturing roles, Will joined the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 2003. His work focuses on developing quality systems, organisations and people, to achieve increased impact and value for money.

Edwin Christmas BSc (Hons), FRICS

Edwin is 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, he was responsible for the stewardship and management of this 4000-hectare diverse estate.

Dr Romain Pizzi

Romain is a specialist zoo & wildlife veterinary surgeon, and current president of the British Veterinary Zoological Society and president of the Scottish branch of the British Veterinary Association. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and a European recognised specialist in zoo health management. He is a trustee of the Animal Welfare Foundation, and a member of Defra’s Animal Welfare Committee. He has worked for wildlife conservation organisations, government departments, and zoos in 40 countries from Argentina to Vietnam, with everything from elephants to Taihitian tree snails.

Richard A. Griffiths BSc, PhD, FRSB

Richard is based at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) at the University of Kent. 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.

Simon Venables FCA MBA MA (Cantab) BA (Hons)

Simon is a Group Financial Controller with experience leading finance teams in both public and private businesses, dealing with all aspects including commercial analysis and strategic reviews, negotiating bank funding, external reporting, governance, financial control, treasury and tax. Simon qualified as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG in Liverpool and worked with a wide variety of clients across the North-West. Simon chairs the Audit and Risk Management Committee and is the Trustee most likely to turn up to a meeting by bike.

“It’s an opportunity to bring my professional expertise to bear for the benefit of a charity where the mission supports my lifelong love of the natural world. For me it might be managing our garden to support our local birds, or planning holidays around a whale watching trip, or taking the kids to an RSPB reserve or the Zoo, helping them learn what they can do for conservation too.”

David Macdonald

David is the Director and founder (1986) of the world renowned Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) at the University of Oxford, the world’s first university-based institute focusing on wildlife conservation research. David has a strong record of public service, having been on the Board of almost every major conservation body – WWF, FFI, ZSL, WWT, RSPB and Chairman of Earthwatch. He was the founding Chairman of Natural England’s Science Advisory Committee and was the Chairman of the UK’s government Darwin Inititative for a decade. Currently he is Chairman of Action for Conservation, a new education charity taking conservation into schools.

Lee Rawlinson

Lee is the Environment Agency Director for Sustainability and Service Operations ensuring action in achieving net zero, nature positive and all issues of sustainability. Lee also leads for services that support the wider delivery of the Environment Agency from IT and Digital to our security, business resilience, management of Estates, Fleet and the service delivery of HR, Finance and communications. Lee works closely with central government as well as with governments across the UK and the world in improving sustainability and environmental improvement.  As a senior incident commander for major disasters such as fires, floods and pollution and is vastly experienced at crisis management. Lee is passionate about sustainability and striking the right balance between economic growth, healthy society and the Environment in tackling the climate emergency.

Jen Carter

With a background in law and business, Jen has worked in the energy sector since 2006 and is currently Head of Risk, Control and Assurance at Electricity North West.  As a mum to two small boys, she is keen to instil the importance of conservation, education, inclusion and good stewardship of our world.  She also understands how important time together and days out are for busy families.

David Wootton

David has forty years’ experience in Education, having been CEO of one of the highest performing school groups in the country, Executive Principal, Principal, Headteacher and Music teacher, working mainly with schools and trusts in challenging contexts.

David was an Adviser to the Department for Education, ESFA Board member, Chair of the Independent Academies Association, and member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Leadership and Governance.

David is now Visiting Professor in Education at Manchester Metropolitan University, Chair of The Learning Alliance, Freeman of the City of London and The Worshipful Company of Educators and a freelance consultant adviser, trainer, writer and speaker working across the educational spectrum and involved significantly in governance. He was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s 2021 New Year’s Honours List.

Rhys Green

Rhys is a Professor of Conservation Science in the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge. He does problem-solving research on the effects of farming, pollution, habitat loss, illegal killing and climate change on the population sizes and trends of wild species and on the effectiveness of actions intended to remedy those effects. He is Chair of the Board of the international consortium Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction (SAVE).


Audit and Risk Management (Chair: Simon Venables)
Ethical Review (Chair: Prof. Richard A. Griffiths)
Remuneration (Chair: Penny Coates)
Strategic Development Committee (Interim Chair: Penny Coates)
Company Secretary (Nick Clarke: Aaron & Partners LLP)

Advisors to the Trustees: Dr Thomas Webb, Prof Richard Preziosi and Dr Lottie Hosie