Meet The Team

Meet The Team

Core Team

  • Alex Stone

    Alex Stone

    Chief Executive Officer

    Alex is the Trust's Executive Director as of April 2022. Alex joined our team in 2020 after 8 years of charity work across Bristol and the wider region, including with a large nature conservation charity. Alex has previously set up new projects, nurtured partnerships and delivered year round nature activities across the region. Alex has been managing the Trees for Climate scheme as well as taking on the strategic roles within the Trust and day to day management. 

  • David Taylor

    David Taylor

    Chief Financial Officer

    David joined the Forest of Avon Trust in March 2023 as Finance Director, where he is responsible for the financial management of the charity including the annual grant programme as well as land acquisition projects, large funding bids and helping steer the strategic direction of the charity.

    David is an experienced Finance Director with a housebuilding background and more recently is a volunteer treasurer at Citizens Advice Bristol. David joined the trust to help give back to the community in a sustainable setting.

    Throughout his life he has recognised the importance of trees for wellbeing generally, their beauty which he constantly captures in his photography and for the importance of trees in biodiversity and their role in mitigating the impact of climate change.

    David is a lover of the great outdoors, being a keen parkrunner, runner, cyclist and hiker, as well a great interest in art history, in particular the work of David Hockney with whom he shares his hometown.

  • Jess Kirkby

    Jess Kirkby

    Administrator

    Jess joined the team in April 2023 as Administrator. She graduated from Falmouth University in 2013 with an English with Creative Writing degree, and over the last ten years has worked in a number of roles including as an Assistant Curator within the visual arts and as an Administrator for a counselling service.

    Jess grew up in rural Somerset, where her love of nature and the English landscape was born. Her formative years were spent in Biddlecombe Woods making dams, dens and getting stuck in the mud. She learnt at a young age that nature has a transformative power and wanted to join the Forest of Avon Trust to play a part in ensuring the future of our local landscape and the opportunity to give others the same experiences that she was lucky enough to grow up with.

    In her spare time, Jess is an amateur seamstress, often starting new dressmaking projects but rarely finishing them. She also has an allotment where she grew her wedding flowers and has now turned her attention to veg. Jess’ background in the visual arts has provided her with a network of artist friends in the region and she enjoys visiting galleries at the weekends and dabbling in drawing, painting and textiles.

  • Jack McCrickard

    Jack McCrickard

    Woodland Creation Manager

    Jack joined the Forest of Avon Trust in 2021 to plan and deliver our tree planting projects. Jack leads on the Bristol and South Gloucestershire tree planting schemes including Trees for Climate. Jack also delivers the Overscourt woods woodland management and access programme. 

    After gaining a Masters in Wild Animal Biology from the Royal Veterinary College in 2014, Jack spent a year as a trainee with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, managing nature reserves. After working on several community conservation projects and traditional orchards in London, Jack moved to Bristol to run Bristol City Council’s One Tree Per Child volunteer programme. Jack has a particular passion for orchards and fruit trees and will be running some pruning workshops later in 2022. 

    Outside of work, Jack is a keen cyclist and rock climber, and generally loves being outdoors.

  • Lewis Chisholm

    Lewis Chisholm

    Tree and Woodland Officer

    Lewis is our Tree and Woodland Officer covering the North Somerset and Bath & North East Somerset areas. As part of his role within the trust, Lewis is responsible for planning, designing and delivering woodland creation projects. Lewis is enthusiastic about connecting existing habitats and encouraging public interaction by creating accessible, biodiverse and resilient woodland sites.

    His background is in grants, tree health and horticulture, with a passion for British wildlife, nature restoration and the contribution that woodland provides to these.

    Outside of work, Lewis loves to travel in his campervan and enjoys rock climbing and cycling.

  • Jess Grimbley

    Jess Grimbley

    Tree and Woodland Officer

    Jess joined the Forest of Avon Trust in October 2023 as a Tree and Woodland Officer, working to increase tree cover in the South Gloucestershire region through the Trees for Climate scheme.

    Jess has a love for British nature, and after studying Marine Biology and doing a post-graduate degree in wildlife management, she went on to work in ecological consultancy. There she specialised in botany and habitats ecology, helping to design biodiverse and resilient habitats and landscapes for developments.

    Outside of work Jess likes to explore the beautiful countryside surrounding Bristol, bake bread, and (attempt!) to sculpt things in pottery class.

  • Laura Norton

    Laura Norton

    Tree and Woodland Officer

    Laura is the new Tree and Woodland Officer for North Somerset. She is looking forward to getting muddy planting with the team, whilst encouraging and maintaining positive partner relationships in this special area. Previously, Laura has worked in many aspects of the arboricultural industry over the last 25 years. These include tree surgery and veteran management to auditing timber traceability around the globe. In her spare time, Laura enjoys volunteering at her local Woodcraft Folk group with her 2 children

  • Joe Cusworth

    Joe Cusworth

    Woodland Management Officer

    Joe joined us in 2022 as our Woodland Management Officer, providing advice on woodland management and best practice, producing management plans and directing landowners to resources available to them. 

    Having long been interested in working outdoors and protecting the valuable habitats and ecosystems around us, Joe has worked as a woodland manager since finishing his MSc in Environmental Policy in 2018. He has been involved in sites across the Bristol region and also helps run a coppicing project throughout the Wye Valley, aiming to bring as much woodland into active management as possible. 

    Joe is currently adding to his arboricultural qualifications and in his remaining free time he is a keen cycle-tourist and cook, and makes his own music which he describes as 'mediocre' which inspires the team to listen and provide their own review in due course!

  • Janine Connor

    Janine Connor

    Project Officer: Orchards for Pollinators

    Janine joined the team in Autumn 2023 as our Orchards for Pollinators Project Officer, improving community orchards for pollinators and people across Bristol, South Gloucester and Bath. Janine has a background in Countryside Management and after studying Environmental Conservation and Countryside Management at Cannington College in Somerset she has worked as a Countryside Ranger for the National Trust and Local Authorities for over 10 years.

    Janine loves to get outdoors and carry out practical conservation work and has experience in managing and caring for a broad range of UK habitats, she has a passion for nature conservation and environmental protection and over the years I have developed a particular interest in orchards and orchard management. The highlight of her career to date has been caring for the veteran trees at Leigh Woods National Nature Reserve and planting the 11 acre traditional Orchard at National Trust Tyntesfield. Outside of her role with the Forest of Avon Trust Janine run’s a small craft business making traditional straw work, corn dollies and straw plated jewellery.

  • Rachel Tomlinson

    Rachel Tomlinson

    Health and Wellbeing Lead

    Rachel has been delivering woodland-based health and wellbeing projects for over 10 years, supporting people to build and embrace nature-connection and improve their physical and mental health. Ongoing projects include working with people living with dementia and their carers in Bristol and South Glos.

    Rachel trained as a Forest School leader in 2012. Before this she worked for the BBC Natural History Unit for 10 years. Rachel worked as Community Inclusion Officer at Westonbirt Arboretum and has also worked in health and wellbeing communication with CLIC Sargent, Healthwatch and ForMed Films.

  • Helen Gray

    Helen Gray

    Health and Wellbeing Officer

    Helen joined Forest of Avon Trust in 2023 as a Health and Wellbeing Officer, delivering woodland based wellbeing sessions. Helen loves working outside and connecting people to themselves, each other, and nature. Previously she worked for 10 years at a community farm, as project administrator as well as planning and delivering a wide variety of wellbeing sessions and community focused projects. She has seen the powerful healing effect of people being together outdoors and is very excited to be working with people with dementia and their carers, and people living with mental health issues.

    She has also worked in many people focused roles in social housing, recovery, and child services.

    Helen is forager, camper, gardener, herbalist, and knitter. When not doing any of these, she likes to experiment with historical recipes or going to gigs in town.

  • Safia Gilder-Hodgson

    Safia Gilder-Hodgson

    Partnerships Manager

    Safia joined the Forest of Avon Trust Team in 2023, and is working in collaboration with partners to deliver the Forest of Avon Plan - our Tree and Woodland strategy for the West of England. Working with our partners across the region, Safia will amplify the efforts of the Forest of Avon to deliver large scale impact to bring trees to people and people to trees.

    Safia has a degree in Geography and has particular interest in how humans and nature can coexist. She has worked in multiple communication roles in forestry both in Scotland and Amsterdam and she has recently completed an Orchard Training course and is excited to be part of the expansion of these edible landscapes across the region.

  • Claire Byers

    Claire Byers

    Communications Officer: Forest of Avon Plan

    Claire joined the Forest of Avon trust in September 2023 to deliver the communication strategy for The Forest of Avon Plan. She will work across the partnership to create campaigns and a new hub that will be used to spread the awareness of the Plan and help everyone across the region connect to their local trees and woodlands and seek to expand their presence in our landscapes.

    Originally trained as a geologist, Claire’s love of the outdoors finally led her, via a career in carbon trading and marketing, to a degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security. There she became convinced of the need to expand woodland cover most particularly through agroforestry.

    In her spare time, Claire is helping set up an organic tree nursery to the north of Bath. She also loves to be outdoors and even took up running and cycling to get out even more.

  • Emily Dymond

    Emily Dymond

    Communications Officer

    Emily joined the team in July 2022 and looks after the Forest of Avon's communications, including our social media platforms, newsletters and printed materials. Emily also coordinates our volunteering opportunities and engagement events.

    Emily has a degree in illustration and has worked in varied roles in arts, education and social care with a creative/ communications focus. She loves a project and spends much of her time getting stuck into making things, including painting, drawing, filming and editing! She loves to spend time outdoors and exploring new places - you'll most likely find her hiking, camping or just simply having a lie down in the sun!

  • Peter O'Brien

    Peter O'Brien

    Tree Technician

    Peter is one of our Junior Tree Technicians, working with Bristol City Council and the Forest of Avon Trust team, undertaking various roles in order to highlight successes and barriers, assisting with tree planting in Bristol and supporting Bristol City Council with their tree planting schemes. 

    Peter just finished his degree from Bristol UWE in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science and prior to that he worked in Norfolk planning and implementing Outdoor Learning Activities and working as a Pastoral Worker. 

    Peter enjoys playing the accordion and supporting the music scene by going to lots of gigs. He loves spending time at home in the Forest of Dean (with his two cats!), baking bread, carving spoons and working on his veg patch!

  • Angus Rankine

    Angus Rankine

    Tree Technician

    Angus joined the team in 2023, working with both the Trust and B&NES council. Angus’s role involves supporting the council with their tree planting needs within their green infrastructure and nature recovery projects.

    Angus’ love of trees blossomed in his previous role working for an Arboricultural Association Approved contractor in the Mendips. Seeing the devastation unfolding from Ash Dieback Disease, Angus wanted to take a more active role in the creation and establishment of new woodland and trees, and the protection of existing woodland to help a struggling landscape for future generations to come.

    Angus is currently working towards his level 2 in arboriculture, which is giving him a greater understanding of the importance of trees in our world. In a previous role, Angus worked as a support worker for the YMCA, working with young people to help them into independent living. This role highlighted the need for places in nature to help bring a positive impact to people’s wellbeing.

    Outside of work and studying, Angus enjoys spending as much time outside with his wife and children. He is lucky enough to live in Wells, where there is no shortage of woodland and parks for them to enjoy!

  • Thea Rush

    Thea Rush

    Tree Technician

    Thea joined the Forest of Avon Trust in January 2024 as one of our Tree Technicians working with South Gloucestershire council and the Trust. Thea’s role involves supporting South Gloucestershire councils’ goal of planting trees to double canopy cover in the county by 2030, and supporting the Trust in their various planting and engagement projects.

    Thea has always loved the environment, and after studying Forestry and Conservation at University, went on to work in ecological consultancy where she developed a passion for bats, and is working towards getting her license.

    Outside of work, Thea loves to spend as much time outside as possible, either climbing, foraging, wild swimming or hiking.

Associates

  • Jon Attwood

    Jon Attwood

    Forest School Level 1 Trainer

    Jon has worked for/ with the Forest of Avon Trust since 2010 running Forest School training and wellbeing activities. He now combines running his own business with delivering our Level 1 Forest School training and school activities. Previously, Jon led a range of conservation groups in the Bristol area.

  • Jackie Roby

    Jackie Roby

    Forest School Leader (Level 3) Trainer

    Jackie is a qualified teacher, forest school leader and trainer, an outdoor first-aider and has a PGDip in Education. Jackie runs Go Wild Education and we have worked with her since 2014 to run our Forest School Level 3 training. Prior to this, Jackie has worked for many of Bristol's green institutions including the Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project, Bristol Zoo and the Wild Place Project.

Patrons