Our Trustees

Blow's Downs

Esther Clarke

Our Trustees


William Stephens - Chair

William Stephens - Chair Photo

Professor William Stephens is an ecological scientist by background. After working in Malawi he spent 32 years at Cranfield University in Bedfordshire, specialising in the effect of climate on plant growth. He was Head of the Institute of Water and Environment from 1999 until 2006 and worked in the Vice-Chancellor’s Office, latterly as University Secretary. He chaired the University Board for Energy and Environment responsible for Cranfield’s environmental performance. William retired at the end of 2017. He also served as a Trustee for the Harpur Trust in Bedford for 10 years and as a Commonwealth Scholarship Commissioner for six years and a Trustee of the Marston Vale Trust in Bedfordshire for three years. He has been a Trustee of the Beds, Cambs and Northants Wildlife Trust since 2014, and served as Vice Chairman from 2016-2018. Lately, as well as trying to improve his plant and bird identification skills, he has been wearing out his walking boots on some of the UK’s long-distance paths.

Rebecca Jarrett - Vice Chair

Rebecca Jarrett

Rebecca has been a Trustee of the Wildlife Trust BCN since 2017.  Rebecca is an experienced HR professional and a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD. She is a member of the HR leadership team at Cranfield University and has held roles in the public, private and not for profit sectors. She has direct experience of the role of corporate governance and corporate social responsibility for organisations through board committee positions she has held in the past.

Rebecca is passionate about promoting sustainable land management, which started when she lived in South Australia and worked in industry to uphold environmental protection and support the concept of conservation corridors. She now lives adjacent to the River Ouse and has populations of water vole and otter on her property, so habitat conservation and management are high on her list of personal priorities.

Paul Solon – Honorary Secretary

Paul Solon qualified as a Solicitor in 1973 and as a Notary Public in 1977. For many years he worked as a commercial lawyer in the City of London, acting for public and private companies in the shipping, food, publishing and transport industries. Since 1990 he has specialised in trusts, including charitable trusts and now practises independently for a select number of high net worth individuals and families. Paul has advised charitable institutions for many years and in Cambridge he has advised the University and several colleges on charitable issues. Currently, he is also a trustee of the University of Cambridge Veterinary School Trust and of the European Opera Centre. He is secretary of the corporate charity Since 9/11 Foundation. He has long been interested in nature and conservation issues and is a member of several environmental organisations.

Paul Solon - Trustee

Paul Solon

Hannah Bartram - Honorary Treasurer

Hannah has spent her professional career working in the public policy and environment sectors. She worked for the RSPB as a senior adviser on a range of domestic and European nature conservation issues, before moving to the Environment Agency. There she held a variety of national leadership roles covering land use, planning and housing, economic growth, climate change and flooding. She is currently the Chief Executive Officer for the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT), a voluntary membership organisation representing ‘place’ directors from county, unitary and combined authorities across England along with directors of Local Enterprise Partnerships and corporate partners drawn from key service sectors. She is always out walking Charlie the family dog in the fields and woods around Potton and loves seeing the local wildlife.

Dr Matt Walpole – Chair of Conservation, Education & Community Committee

Dr Matt Walpole

Dr Matt Walpole is a conservation biologist with over 25 years’ experience in conservation research, practice and policy. His career in academia and subsequently in the international charity sector has combined ecological, economic and social perspectives to improve decision-making from local to global scales. This has included work on community engagement and participation in wildlife conservation and reserve management. He also directed the UK National Ecosystem Assessment to improve understanding of nature’s value to society. Matt has lived and worked in Cambridge for the past 18 years, and has served on the board of several wildlife charities. He is currently (August 2022) a strategic advisor to the leadership team at WWF International, and from September 2022 will be joining the Cornwall Wildlife Trust as Chief Executive.

Dr Samuel Brockington

Sam studied Plant Biology at the University of Edinburgh, before gaining a PhD at the Florida Museum of Natural History, USA. He is currently a Lecturer at the University of Cambridge, and Curator of the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. Here his research group pursues a variety of questions relating to the evolution of plant biodiversity, particularly within the flowering plant order Caryophyllales. In his role as Curator, he is interested in how plant biodiversity is held and managed across the world’s ex-situ collections, and its utility for ecological restoration.

Jan Davis

Jan is an experienced Human Resources leader, specialising in developing managers in complex, global environments. She is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and has a Masters from Westminster University. Whilst specialising in people development, her responsibilities as a senior manager in the telecoms and energy sectors embraced all aspects of business. 

After taking early retirement she focused on volunteering. The roles she chooses enable her to combine her organisational expertise with her interest in improving peoples’ wellbeing. As current Chair of Trustees of the Hunts Community Cancer Network (HCCN), she sees the activities of the charity making a real difference to local people living with a diagnosis of cancer.

Her interest in the natural world stems from a growing understanding of the health benefits and wellbeing that people derive from connecting with nature. Improving the emotional wellbeing of cancer patients for example is a key factor in enabling their survivorship. Rather than having a scientific background, her interest lies in conserving habitats and wildlife, and enabling people to connect with the natural environment.

Chris Lewis

Chris Lewis - Trustee

Chris has a degree in Engineering (BA 1976 and MA 1979) and worked as a chartered consulting engineer both in the UK and abroad for some 25 years. Chris joined commercial developer Prologis in 2001, taking the lead in the planning and delivery of infrastructure and resolution of environmental matters for major development sites. He has considerable experience in negotiating agreements with planning authorities, landowners and statutory bodies.

Chris was the link between Prologis and the WTBCN from 2008 until his retirement in 2018 and was instrumental in creating the partnership that has developed between the two organisations. Latterly, his main project was the third phase of the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT III) where the Trust now manages the 193 acre Lilbourne Meadows wildlife area for Prologis.

Since retiring, Chris has been enjoying his renewed involvement with wildlife; as a trustee his aim is to continue to use his experience in development to help secure benefits for wildlife across the three counties.

Dr Ananya Mukherjee

Dr Ananya Mukherjee - Trustee

Dr Ananya Mukherjee

Ananya has a Ph.D. in environmental sociology and worked in various roles for nearly 10 years, specialising in the human dimension of nature conservation as these require an interdisciplinary approach. She is a Trustee of The Wildlife Trust and is making a contribution to nature conservation in a different capacity. Most of the projects she has worked are related to research, policy advocacy, community or stakeholder engagement and influencing decision-makers related to environment and climate change issues. She has also been involved in monitoring and evaluating projects, in assessing the impact of climate change and in climate change adaptation work, overseas. She has experience in fund-raising work, in building partnerships and in examining the sustainability of community-based conservation programmes using a landscape level approach. She has worked as a Research Fellow with the University of Surrey on their renewable energy programme with European partners working with local communities using social innovation and hopes to bring in this experience and knowledge to the role of a Trustee and make a difference to the world of nature conservation. Currently she is a Research Associate with Cardiff University working with the Welsh government in the Welsh Centre for Public Policy on sustainable development issues.

Rebecca Stock

Becky worked in Senior Purchasing roles for a variety of very large manufacturing and construction companies.  She specialised in buying energy and services.  She focussed on ensuring the energy was from the greenest of commercially viable sources.  She worked hard to reduce her employers’ usage of materials, and to offset their carbon footprint.

Her varied roles have given Becky an holistic view of organisations, their ways of working and their impact on the environment.  In particular, she sees the way shareholders place growing importance on big business to be more mindful of their impact as on opportunity for the Trust

She possesses highly effective negotiation skills and is experienced in winning people over by finding solutions for businesses that work for everyone, including the environment. She is realistic that businesses need to make profit, but not at any cost.

Becky is particularly interested in how the Trust interacts with big businesses, both in terms of informing and advising them, and how to work with them to reduce their adverse impacts and to produce a net benefit for wildlife.

Becky has been a wildlife fan since watching birds in her Great Aunt’s garden as a young child and also supports the RSPB and the Woodland Trust. She hopes her commercial experience will be useful to the Trust in the role of a Trustee and indeed make a difference to how local businesses view nature conservation.

Matthew Hayes

Matt Hayes

Matt Hayes

Matt studied Natural Sciences at Durham University before moving to Cambridge in 2016 to study for an MPhil in Zoology. It is here that he first worked alongside the WTBCN as his research was based on nature reserves in Bedfordshire, where he helped to conserve and better understand habitat requirements of endangered butterflies such as the Duke of Burgundy.  

After completing his masters, Matt has worked as a Research Assistant at the University Museum of Zoology in Cambridge. His current project is partnered with the WTBCN, where he is aiming to engage new audiences with wildlife both past and present, using a combination of natural history museum collections and modern conservation initiatives. Matt is a member of the WTBCN Cambridge Local Group Committee, which organises talks and outings for interested parties, and in the summer of 2019, he also worked as a Trust Promotor. 

In 2022, Matt started his PhD and will once again be working on WTBCN reserves, investigating how we can maintain suitable microclimates for species, as regional climates continue to change.

Dr Hilary Allison

Dr Hilary Allison

Dr Hilary Allison has spent most her professional career focusing on advocacy for one of her main passions, the protection, restoration, management and expansion of woodland, during her 25 years at the Woodland Trust and most recently following her government appointment as a non-executive Forestry Commissioner in June 2020.   She began her career with the National Trust in East Anglia promoting its countryside and historic properties.  She is a past chair of Wildlife and Countryside Link, and has held a number of other trustee and board roles over the years. She also has gained an international perspective through a spell at the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre based in Cambridge, managing an expert team of scientists working on ecosystem assessment and biodiversity indicators.  Newly semi-retired, she works as a freelance environmental consultant; she is also researching the history of women’s roles in the conservation movement and getting hands on with woodland management in her newly acquired small wood.


Patron Baroness Young of Old Scone

Barbara, Baroness Young of Old Scone, is our long-standing former President who stepped down at last year’s AGM (2019). She is a Member of the House of Lords with special interests, among others, in the environment, agriculture, natural resources and climate change.

She has been Chairman of the Woodland Trust since 2016 and was appointed the Chairman of Council at the Royal Veterinary College in July 2019. 

Her other voluntary positions include Honorary President of the South Georgia Heritage Trust; Patron of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Management; and Vice President of RSPB, Bird Life International and Flora and Fauna International. She has formerly held a variety of environmental leadership roles, including Chief Executive of RSPB, Chairman of English Nature and Chief Executive of the Environment Agency.

Baroness Young has also held leadership positions in health and social care, including management of health authorities in both Scotland and London.  She was the founding Chairman of the Care Quality Commission and Chief Executive of health charity Diabetes UK.

Other posts she has held include Chancellor of Cranfield University, vice Chairman of the BBC and a non-executive director of AWG plc.

Baroness Young has a number of honorary designations and was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2017.


President Mr Michael Allen

Michael Allen spent his working life in adult and continuing education and in University teaching and administration. His last two posts were as Director of Continuing Education in the University of Cambridge, and Bursar and Director of Studies in English at Churchill College Cambridge. During those years he led a variety of wildlife tours throughout Europe and Africa for (among others) Heritage Travel and Wildlife Travel.

A licensed bird ringer since 1967, he was a founder member of The Wicken Fen Group in 1968 and subsequently served as Hon Secretary and Hon Treasurer of the British Trust for Ornithology and chaired its Publicity and Membership Committee. He was also Secretary of the Ouse Washes Management Committee in the 1970s.

On his retirement from his College posts in 1999 he became involved in regional matters and was appointed coordinator for the East of England Environment Forum. He represented the Forum on the East of England Regional Assembly, of which he was a member from 1999 to 2010. He served as Deputy Chair of the Assembly and leader of the 30 or so Community Stakeholder members (politically non- aligned). He also served on its Executive Committee and on the EERA/EEDA Liaison Panel and as Chair of the Environment & Resources Panel. During this period he chaired the working parties which produced The East of England Sustainable Development Framework (2001) and the East of England’s Environment Strategy (2003)

He was a member of the Regional Advisory Committee for the Forestry Commission; the Heritage Lottery Fund Committee for the East of England; the Sustainable Development Round Table for the East of England and of the National Trust’s East of England Regional Committee for over twenty years.

He was Chairman of the Council of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust from 2002-2008 and a Trustee of The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts (the umbrella organization for the 47 Wildlife Trusts in the British Isles), from 1999-2005. He served as its Chairman from 2005 – November 2011.

He edited Nature Tales (Elliott & Thompson, London 2010), a selection of prose writing on British landscapes and wildlife.

He was awarded the OBE for services to wildlife conservation in the 2012 Birthday Honours List.

Vice Presidents

Vice President Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey, Bt

Vice President Sir Hugh Duberly

Vice President Dr Derek Langslow

Vice President Sir Graham Fry

Vice President Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta