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 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 Operating 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 - 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.

Malcolm Ardron

Vice Chair (Mission Enabling) - Malcolm Ardron

Malcolm is a 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. He is currently managing Director of a company providing engineering and construction services.

William Beale

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

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

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

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.

Russell Newton

Russell Newton BSc, PhD, DSc, FRSC

Russell was Professor of Biochemistry at Swansea University until retirement in 2008, when he was elected Emeritus Professor. He was also Lead Director of the Biomolecular Analysis Mass Spectrometry Facility. He is currently Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of Endocrine Pharmaceuticals.

Professor Richard Griffiths

Richard A. Griffiths BSc, PhD, FRSB

Richard is based at the Durrell Institute 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.

Angela Pinnington

Angela Pinnington BSc (Hons)

Angela is an independent business consultant experienced in the design and delivery of strategy, project management, business improvement and people development projects. She specialises in the provision of coaching and training. For several years now she has been a trustee of Ariel Trust, an education charity established in 1982.

Simon Venables

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 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.


Audit and Risk Management (Chair: Simon Venables)

Ethical Review (Chair: Prof Russell Newton)

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


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.