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 – Bruce Ursell

Bruce has held a number of directorships including a FTSE100 company and has chaired a top ten accounting firm. For 12 years he was a non-executive director of Standard Bank plc, during which time he was chairman of companies managing European government and private investments in emerging markets.

Vice Chair (Mission Enabling) – 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).

Vice Chair (Mission Delivery) – William Beale

Will is Head of Programme Operations, WWFUK. After working for 10 years with Unilever as a Chartered Chemical Engineer in various innovation, development and manufacturing roles, Will joined World Wildlife Fund (WWFUK) in 2003. His work focuses on developing the organisation, its processes and people, to achieve increased impact and value for money from conservation programmes.

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.

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.

Sandra Donnelly BSc (Hons), PGCE

Sandra is Head of Economics at William Hulme’s Grammar School in Manchester. She previously served as the Chief Executive of the Economics, Business and Enterprise Association, where she was responsible for building relationships with a range of stakeholders including government bodies, academics and education professionals and has co-ordinated partnerships with schools in South Africa, China and Australia.

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 has worked as 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, he spent 13 years with KPMG in Liverpool after graduating from Cambridge University (Geography) in 2000.

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

As Director of Regulated Industry for the Environment Agency Lee is responsible for the safe environmental operation, regulation and enforcement of the country’s major industries including fuel, energy and power, nuclear, chemicals and waste meaning he is networked with a wide range of major industries and works closely with many government departments both here and abroad. As a senior incident commander for major disasters such as fires, floods and pollution is vastly experienced at crisis management. Lee is passionate about sustainability and striking the right balance between economic growth and the environment to help tackle the climate emergency and sustainable use of our natural resources to support a thriving natural, social and economic world for now and future generations.

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.


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

Advisors to the Trustees: Mr Brian Coles, Dr Julian Chantrey, Mr Michael Stanford, Dr Thomas Webb, Prof Richard Preziosi