Meet the Board

Meet the Board

Meet our Board of Trustees

  • Alister Rankine

    Alister Rankine


    Alister’s passion for trees and woodlands goes back nearly 50 years.

    Starting at the Forestry Commission, before studying for a Degree in Forestry at Aberdeen University, Alister transitioned to working for a commercial forestry company in the Highlands. A change of direction, in both career and location, brought him to the South West where he remained actively involved in tree and woodland management in the public and private sectors.

    In the last 40 years Alister has set his ambition to increase public awareness of the importance of trees and woodlands. After 25 years as director of his own arboricultural consultancy company, he felt the time was right to volunteer his experience in a cause close to his professional and personal heart. He became a trustee on the Board of the Forest of Avon Trust in late 2020 and Chair of the Board in 2022.

    Alister has come full circle since he was involved in setting up the Forest of Avon as one of the national community forests in the late 1980’s. Working alongside such a dedicated team on the Board and Staff of The Trust at such a crucial time is a privilege and a pleasure.

  • Pam Gilder

    Pam Gilder

    Vice Chair

    Trees, woodland, and the environment have been a constant theme in Pam's professional career. Starting as a field ecologist, she advised land managers in the South West on how establish new woodland and care for nature on their land. After working at a local level, she moved into environmental policy, securing important measures to protect the environment as major pieces of legislation passed through UK parliament. She led the early work that established the New National Forest.

    More recently, Pam worked at the Environment Agency where she was Director of Corporate Affairs. In this role she helped to shape environmental legislation and policy and was responsible for the Agency’s national communications and engagement work. She is now a volunteer mentor and a Trustee of a small international development charity whose work includes planting trees to help communities living in arid landscapes to manage the impacts of climate change. Working with her family, she is creating an area of native grassland and woodland in the Cotswolds.

  • Robert Bernays

    Robert Bernays


    Robert has always enjoyed being in woodlands and being with people involved with trees. His career has been in farming and helping to run estates which integrate trees into their practice. Robert's own Farm is in South Gloucestershire which has included mixed woodland and as a trustee of the Berkeley and St Monica Estates there is now more woodland. Robert got involved with the Forest of Avon since its inception and was very pleased to become a trustee recently to help with the planning and acquisition of Great Avon Wood.

    Now, Robert enjoys using his forestry and estate management experience to help the Forest of Avon expand its efforts to plant more trees and to use the woods for education and wellbeing. He is fortunate to live by many beautiful woods in the West of England where his main hobby is walking in our beautiful countryside which, locally, includes Lower Woods, the Jubilee Wood at Wickwar, the largest oak woods in the South West of England.

  • Charles Davies

    Charles Davies


    Charlie has been assisting the Trust since November 2021 and applies his experience as a corporate solicitor to help aid the Trust. He is also a keen runner, and his appreciation for open, public, green spaces around Bristol rose whilst training for the Green Man Ultra (which spans the Community Forest Path). He is interested in protecting those spaces and utilising them to maximise their outreach and the benefits they can provide.

  • Chris Bloor

    Chris Bloor


    Chris Bloor got involved with the Forest of Avon when he set up the Green Man Challenge on the Community Forest Path, which was created as a Forest of Avon initiative. The path is a 45 miles path around the perimeter of the city, designed by Rennie Dickins to encompass all the Counties that Used to Be Avon. Chris continues to support the Community Forest Path and particularly the Green Man Challenge, which is now supported as an Ultra Marathon by a Commercial outfit. The internationally famous conceptual artist Richard Long has also produced a work inspired by the Community Forest Path.

    Currently, Chris is exploring the concept of the Horwood Forest, which was a Royal Forest that was disafforested in 1228 by King John's son Henry III. He has developed a boundary trail (75 or 100 miles long), which he hopes to publish soon.

  • Andrew McLaughlin

    Andrew McLaughlin


    Andrew has more than 20 years’ experience in PR and marketing, including as Head of Communications at the National Trust where he was able to indulge his passions for storytelling, history, and the outdoors. He later moved into operational leadership roles, becoming General Manager of the National Trust’s Kingston Lacy estate in Dorset and the Chief Executive of the students’ union at the University of Bath. He is currently responsible for strategy, communications and innovation at South Gloucestershire Council, a key partner for the Forest of Avon Trust.

  • Matthew Jones

    Matthew Jones


    Mat is currently Professor of Public Health and Community Development at the University of the West of England where he specialises in evaluating the impacts of social and environmental programmes.

    Mat supports the Trust to the develop the evidence base and make the case for the benefits of trees in a multitude of contexts including mental wellbeing, green social prescribing, urban regeneration, age friendly and dementia friendly communities, healthy schools, community arts, employability, and the circular economy. He is passionate about promoting better and fairer public access to forested and other green spaces. Originally trained in horticulture, Mat continues to be involved in community gardening and rewilding projects and loves an adventure through the wonderful woodlands in and around Bristol.

  • Team Member Placeholder

    Giles Clarke


    Giles Clarke was born in Bristol and lives in North Somerset. He is an avid planter of trees on his own land and has created a small wildlife area with a large pond which has planted around it. He is an entrepreneur with a wide range of interests including Boston Tea Party,and is committed heavily to businesses which are cognisant of their environmental responsibility,especially the removal of plastic from our society. He cares deeply about the geographical area covered by the Forest of Avon Trust.

  • Sara Blackmore

    Sara Blackmore


    Sara started her career in Public Health and NHS commissioning roles in Camden & Islington Health Authority then the Bristol and Bath health systems. Sara then joined the Public Health Registrar training programme in the South West.

    Post-training Sara worked in South Gloucestershire Local Authority as a Consultant in PH, Deputy Director of PH and then 5 years as Director of PH whilst enjoying the challenges of the pandemic! Sara’s areas of interest are system leadership and development in the fields of population health, prevention and inequalities and the use of evidence to support decision-making across the health & care system.

    Sara’s first degree in geography was based on her interest in the natural environment and climate change. This and the strong link between public health and climate change drove her interest in supporting the work of Forest of Avon Trust.

    Outside of work Sara enjoys running and cycling and getting herself and her kids out in the fresh air!

  • James Mayer

    James Mayer


    James had left the area for some time and on returning wanted to help protect and enhance the area to allow future generations to have the same chance to explore, experience and ultimately fall in love with woodlands as he had growing up here.

    He found a deep connection to the trust due to the exceptional work done through the Woodland Wellbeing projects and promotions of nature as a way to improve all our health and wellness and the focus on management and conservation of woodland.

    As a finance director of a B Corp certified business he utilises his experience and passion to advise on the operations and strategy of the trust. Outside of work James is happiest in nature normally exploring our beautiful area and when possible in or on the sea.