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

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.

Bruce Ursell

At the start of his career Bruce spent 5 years working in West Africa. On returning to the UK he worked in the City eventually as CEO of two merchant banks.

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, World Bank and private investments in emerging markets.

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

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.

David Chinn

David is a Solicitor and a Partner in the International Law Firm Hill Dickinson LLP.  He is Head of the Business Services Group and has responsibility for circa 300 people and has been at the firm since 1988 and became a partner in 1992.

David has been advising on construction/engineering law since 1990, involved in many high profile projects relating to football stadia, theatres, bridges/tunnels and various iconic buildings.

He also deals with dispute work including litigation, arbitration, adjudication and mediation.

David is a qualified solicitor gaining an LLB (Hons) from Liverpool Polytechnic. He is also an accredited mediator, an adjudicator and a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

David is a Member of the Law Society, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a Member of the Technology and Construction Solicitors’ Association.

Sandra Donnelly BSc (Hons), PGCE, MCCT

Sandra is Head of Economics at William Hulme’s Grammar School in Manchester and a senior examiner of A Level Economics. She is governor of a primary school and previously served as Chief Executive of the Economics, Business and Enterprise Association. Her passion for education, economics and conservation is the result of years of backpacking: visiting schools, zoos and conservation projects. Sandra is an advocate of approaches to education that build engagement in order to empower future generations and she has co-ordinated partnerships with schools in South Africa, China and Australia. Inspired by Chester Zoo and her mini-conservationist daughter, Sandra is becoming a more active campaigner and taking steps to live more sustainably.


Audit and Risk Management (Chair: Simon Venables)
Ethical Review (Chair: Prof. Richard A. Griffiths)
Remuneration (Chair: Penny Coates)
Strategic Development Committee (Chair: David Chinn)
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