Conservation

Claire Boothby and Dr Lia Gilmour, Head of Conservation Projects (job share)

Claire Boothby and Dr Lia Gilmour, Head of Conservation Projects (job share)

Claire Boothby (pictured) joined the Conservation Team at BCT as Head of Conservation Projects in November 2022, sharing the job with Lia Gilmour. Claire currently project manages the BCT deliverables from Species on the Edge (SotE) in Scotland and Natur am Byth in Wales. Her professional qualifications are in Applied Ecology and Project Management. She has background in working with large collaborative projects and leading citizen science surveys.

Email Claire: cboothby@bats.org.uk


Lia joined the Conservation Team at BCT as Head of Conservation Projects in November 2022, sharing the job with Claire Boothby. Lia works on development and delivery of key Conservation Projects, such as Gobaith Coetir/Woodland Hope Project in Wales. Lia’s time at BCT is split between the Conservation Team and the Science Team, where she also works part-time as a Research Manager (see Lia's photo and email under Science team).

Bethan Withey, Project Officer Natur Am Byth! (Swansea Bay's Stars of the Night)

Bethan Withey, Project Officer Natur Am Byth! (Swansea Bay's Stars of the Night)

Bethan Withey joined the team as Natur am Byth! Project Officer (Swansea Bay’s Stars of the Night) in December 2023. Bethan found her love for bats when completing her undergraduate degree in Zoology from the University of Reading which looked at habitat preferences of bats in urban environments; she hasn’t put a bat detector down since!

Bethan has worked in ecological consultancy since 2013, providing crucial advice on considering bats and other protected species during development projects. She has an MSc in Conservation and Biodiversity from the University of Exeter and has also volunteered with various conservation groups in England and Wales. Bethan is Welsh-speaking, having grown up in South Wales and is passionate about getting local communities involved in understanding and appreciating our native wildlife. Bethan is also a strong advocate for awareness around mental health and the importance of nature to our happiness and wellbeing.

Outside of work, Bethan enjoys sea swimming, floristry and surveying for marine mammals and seabirds.

Email Bethan: bwithey@bats.org.uk

Nicky Fish, Wales Officer - Woodland Hope Project

Nicky Fish, Wales Officer - Woodland Hope Project


Nicky joined BCT in 2023 on this exciting new venture surveying and protecting bats in areas of Celtic Rain Forest in Snowdonia.

Nicky has a First degree in Social Policy gained in Sussex in the 1990s and later returned to study at Trinity College at Masters level in Environmental Education focusing on sustainable Education and Air Pollution. She also attended Plumpton College gaining a Higher Diploma in Land & Countryside Studies. Following this she moved from Sussex to Snowdonia where she worked for many years as a Ranger and Field Tutor for the RSPB. Nicky’s career focused on outdoor learning in various posts for most of the NGOs as well as Education Officer for Wales for the Forestry Commission and Natural England.

Nicky is dedicated to wildlife conservation and developed a personal interest in bats having lived in her first cottage in Wales with an attic roost of over 300 pipistrelles and then became hooked after BCT Ecology & Survey Training and witnessing the Greater and Lesser Horseshoe Bats that roost at Stackpole.

Some twenty years ago Nicky set up and is the founder of Second Nature working to conserve wildlife and to inspire others, especially young people to share her passion and interest.

Nicky has returned to Snowdonia living in a 17th century longhouse amongst the Gwydyr Forest where she is creating a wildlife and forest garden and lives with her menagerie of animals.

Email Nicky: nfish@bats.org.uk

Elliot Bastos, Assistant Project Officer - Woodland Hope

Elliot Bastos, Assistant Project Officer - Woodland Hope

Elliot joined the BCT team in 2023, based in mid Wales he is working to engage local communities and monitor bat populations in the awe inspiring Welsh Ancient Celtic Rainforest.

Having studied Biochemistry and Microbiology at the University of Sheffield Elliot developed a passion for all things small and wonderful, from fungi and slime moulds to bacteria and amoebas. He followed this degree with a position at the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures at the University of Sheffield, developing sustainable hydroponic and aquaponic growing mediums inoculated with plant helping microorganisms.

Following his passion for wild places, he travelled to New Zealand and witnessed plenty of conservation in action really seeing its importance in today’s world. Elliot returned to the UK in 2020 with a new respect for the huge diversity of local flora and fauna, including our wonderful bats. Combining this passion with his knowledge of community engagement from his continued role in a food surplus organisation, Elliot wants to ensure that there are as few barriers to wildlife and conservation engagement as possible – everyone should have the chance to experience and steward our natural world. He is at his happiest walking in the Welsh woodlands looking for life in all shapes and forms!

Email Elliot: ebastos@bats.org.uk

Danielle Smith, Project Manager - Connecting People & Landscapes in a Changing Climate

Dani joined BCT in 2024 as the Connecting People and Landscapes Project Manager. She has been fascinated by bats since her undergraduate studies, initially introduced to them during a bat walk. Since then, Dani has volunteered with various bat groups, fostering a passion for bat conservation.

With extensive experience in the conservation and environmental education sector, Dani managed the Our Bright Future Project at Avon Wildlife Trust, focusing on enhancing green spaces and youth development. Her recent role at a widening participation charity aimed to broaden young people's horizons and provide opportunities for success to young people facing disadvantage. Dani holds an MSc in Applied Ecology from the University of Exeter and possesses a Level 2 class bat license.

Having worked in multiple countries, Dani engaged in research with blossom bats and micro-bats at the University of Brisbane. She also coordinated environmental education and conservation projects in Thailand. She is an advocate for promoting biodiversity and a sustainable future for all.

Email Dani: dsmith@bats.org.uk

Simeon Johnson, Woodland Project Officer - Connecting People & Landscapes in a Changing Climate

Simeon Johnson, Woodland Project Officer - Connecting People & Landscapes in a Changing Climate

Simeon gained an interest in bats after finishing his undergraduate degree in 2020 and decided to join the Birmingham and Black Country bat group. He was instantly hooked from the first survey and attended as many events as he could receiving the member of the year in his first year as a volunteer. After aiding with events such as bat walks and projects such as the Urban Bat Project, Simeon then practiced as a freelance ecologist aiding with bat emergence, re-entry and trapping surveys. Following this, Simeon decided to pursue a masters in Conservation and Biodiversity in 2022 culminating in writing a thesis exploring the use of the coast by bats in Cornwall.

He joined the Bat Conservation Trust in 2024 as the Woodland Project Officer for the Connecting People and Landscapes project. His role focuses on exploring the locations of Bechstein’s bats in the south of Britain and working to improve management and guidelines for this species. Outside of BCT, Simeon enjoys reading and is always on the lookout for new recommendations especially in science-fiction!

Email Simeon: sjohnson@bats.org.uk

Sebastian Allen-Mepham, Land Management & Regenerative Advisor - Connecting People and Landscapes in a Changing Climate

Sebastian Allen-Mepham, Land Management & Regenerative Advisor - Connecting People and Landscapes in a Changing Climate

Seb joined BCT in January 2024, working within the HLF project ‘Connecting People & Landscapes in a Changing Climate’. His post will revolve around working closely with a variety of landowners & farmers within Devon, offering advice on regenerative land management practises and recruiting hub farms who will disseminate these positive practises throughout their local communities.

Specifics of the job will include developing a suite of wildlife surveys to be carried out on-farm, mapping landscape connectivity & recruiting the hub farms, developing management options for species interventions, trialling these on-farm & coordinating training workshops and visits to established regenerative farms for the hubs. He will also be working closely with his colleagues Hannah Worthington (Outreach Officer) & Simeon Johnson (Woodland Officer) to increase the connection between farmers and their local communities through the development of citizen science projects, farm open days & wildlife walks on-farm.

Prior to working for BCT, Seb has spent the past fourteen years working for a variety of conservation organisations and private farms & estates. He has two daughters and lives with his partner on the edge of Dartmoor where they spend most of their weekends when not at the beach!

Email Seb: sallen-mepham@bats.org.uk

Hannah Worthington, Community Collaboration & Outreach Worker- Connecting People and Landscapes

Hannah joined the Bat Conservation Trust at the start of 2024, as Community Collaboration and Outreach Officer for the Connecting People and Landscapes project.

Hannah has worked in education since graduating with a degree in Geography, initially teaching English as a Second Language in the UK and overseas before returning to the UK to focus on Environmental & Conservation Education. She has delivered community engagement projects focusing on landscape management and heritage conservation, along with outreach and education initiatives for organisations such as Natural England, Groundwork South and the National Trust.

Hannah is a Level 3 Forest School Leader and loves combining this approach with her knowledge and experience of landscape management and natural history to create hands-on learning activities – in the great outdoors where at all possible! She is passionate about enabling everyone to have the opportunity to experience nature up close, whether it’s an urban or rural setting, and learn more about the amazing wildlife and habitats we have in the UK.

Email Hannah: hworthington@bats.org.uk

Allyson Walsh, Head of Conservation Services

Allyson Walsh, Head of Conservation Services

Allyson discovered her joy of bats while completing a summer placement with the Forestry Commission. Her PhD thesis focussed on the landscape ecology of bats and climate, which she put into practice by joining BCT back in 1996 as the team lead in setting up the UK National Bat Monitoring Programme.

Allyson’s passion for large-scale conservation led to a period of international conservation involvement, working for renowned USA based organisations including Bat Conservation International, Lubee Bat Conservancy, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. She has experience researching the ecology of diverse international wildlife and habitats, including flying foxes, California condors, and Hawaiian birds. She has run projects on bats in caves, bat houses, bat diseases, captive care of bats, cross border bat education initiatives, and green energy-wildlife mitigation. She is an active member of the IUCN Bat Specialist Group, and a member of Shropshire Bat Group.

Having worked in hot climates, Allyson is now often cold and is most often spotted wearing lots of warm clothing. Her current interests include interdisciplinary knowledge brokering, and human-wildlife coexistence in the context of the energy transition and preservation of biodiversity.

Email Allyson: awalsh@bats.org.uk

Claudia Gebhardt, Scottish Bat Officer

Claudia Gebhardt, Scottish Bat Officer

Claudia joined BCT in February 2021. She has been active in the Scottish bat world since 2006 and has further international bat experience, including taking part in volunteer bat survey projects in England, Wales, Germany, New Zealand, Poland, Mexico, Netherlands, and Zambia.

In her role as Scottish Bat Officer Claudia is supporting bat groups in Scotland, providing training for bat surveys skills, as well as enthusing people about bats and engaging people in taking part in bat surveys.

Claudia has many years of experience as an ecologist, mainly working in nature conservation and consultancy. Her expertise lies in mammals, with a particular interest in bats, but her interests also include many other taxa. One of Claudia’s main interests is providing training courses and workshops. Her previous position as the Programme Leader for an ecological survey skills project at the Scottish Wildlife Trust included provision of various training sessions in bat survey skills from beginner to advanced level. She has also run training courses for the Field Studies Council and many bat walks and talks as an active volunteer for various other conservation organisations.

E-mail Claudia: cgebhardt@bats.org.uk

Cathryn Baillie, Species on the Edge Project Officer (Argyll & Inner Hebrides)

Cathryn Baillie, Species on the Edge Project Officer (Argyll & Inner Hebrides)

Cathryn joined BCT in January 2023 as a project officer for Species on the Edge. She became interested in bat conservation during the development year of the project, when she helped set up the Skye and Lochalsh Bat Group. Having grown up on the Isle of Skye, she is most at home when exploring the natural environment and has a great love for the local people and wildlife. And, as a crofter, is very keen to help connect the crofting communities with the conservation world. She believes strongly that there is a lot of common ground between the two groups and that working together and learning from each other is the best way to combat biodiversity loss in the Highlands. Through her role, she is excited to be able to combine her passions and connect the people of Skye with their natural heritage.

Email Cathryn: cbaillie@bats.org.uk

Abby Packham, Bat Groups Officer

Abby Packham, Bat Groups Officer

Abby joined BCT in February 2021 as the Bat Groups Officer. Her love of bats developed through survey work, always enjoying seeing their activity no matter what time of the night or morning it was. Unlocking their secret sounds with a heterodyne is always a thrill and one she is happy to share with anyone willing to take part. She has also volunteered with injured bat recovery and feels privileged to have been able to help and witness these creatures up close.

She has always been passionate about conservation work and believes everyone can be a part of conservation no matter what their occupation. She uses this enthusiasm to help support bat groups as they are the front-line of bat conservation.

Email Abby: batgroups@bats.org.uk

Naomi Webster, Training & Conferences Manager

Naomi Webster, Training & Conferences Manager

Naomi joined BCT in 2017. As Training & Conferences Manager, she is responsible for all the in-house and commissioned training as well as overseeing the organisation of various conferences each year. Prior to joining BCT, Naomi worked in education and training for the Wellcome Trust and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust based at Jersey Zoo. During her 10 years in Jersey, she gave more fruit bat talks than she cares to remember but always managed to mention their smaller local cousins as well. Naomi is also the Education and Engagement Officer for BCT.

Email Naomi: nwebster@bats.org.uk

Juliet Maxted, Training and Conferences Administrator

Juliet Maxted, Training and Conferences Administrator

Juliet joined the Training and Conferences team in June 2023. She previously worked in research services at the University of Exeter, planning research related events and has been volunteering for conservation charities for the past 8 years! Juliet has a BSc in Zoology and an MSc in Conservation Science and Policy. Outside work Juliet is a member of the IUCN expert working group on Education and Communication. She is passionate about making science accessible for all and encouraging people of all ages to learn about conservation and why it’s so important.

Juliet has loved bats since volunteering with fruit bats at London Zoo and she has really enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about British bats. In her free time Juliet enjoys picking up new creative hobbies and travelling to spot wildlife whenever she can.

Email Juliet: jmaxted@bats.org.uk

National Bat Helpline

Hannah Van Hesteren, Helpline Manager & Engagement Officer for Project NightWatch

Hannah Van Hesteren, Helpline Manager & Engagement Officer for Project NightWatch


Hannah has been working with bats since 2013 when she began volunteering in nature reserves and on surveys around London after graduating with a BSc in Biology. Hannah started as one of two Helpline Managers in 2018, but has worked in the Helpline team since 2015 when she started as a Seasonal Helpline Officer. In 2022, Hannah also joined the Science team part time as the Engagement officer for the NightWatch project, where she has been enjoying sharing her love for bats with the public. Hannah has a keen interest in conservation marketing and behavioural science, having just completed an MSc in Science Communication from Imperial College London. Outside of work Hannah enjoys hiking, crafting and attempting to grow veggies in her urban container garden.

Email Hannah: hvanhesteren@bats.org.uk

Becky Wilson, Helpline Manager

Becky Wilson, Helpline Manager

Becky joined BCT in May 2014 as a Seasonal Helpline officer and later that year moved to a permanent role in the NBMP team as Survey Coordinator. She returned to the Helpline team as a Manager in August 2018.

Becky has a degree in Biology from the University of Southampton and has always been passionate about wildlife conservation. In 2013 she interned at the Botanic Gardens Conservation International, where she took part in completing a Red List of the tree family Betulaceae as part of the Global Trees Campaign.

Becky fell in love with bats whilst carrying out her dissertation on the effects of LED lighting on bat foraging behaviour. She is a member of the London Bat group and enjoys taking part in bat surveys, especially NBMP Hibernation Surveys. Her favourite moment of working with bats was getting to see both greater horseshoe and lesser horseshoe bats while helping out with Hibernation counts in Dorset.

Email Becky: bwilson@bats.org.uk

Tristan Evans, Helpline Assistant Manager and Technical Specialist

Tristan Evans, Helpline Assistant Manager and Technical Specialist

Tristan studied Film at the University of West London and, before joining BCT as a Seasonal Helpline Officer, had various different jobs in the film industry. Outside of work Tristan is a keen artist, fencer and enjoys walking in search of nature. Tristan has previously taken on the Three Peaks Challenge and has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

Email Tristan: tevans@bats.org.uk

Jennifer Pope, Senior Bat Advisor

Jennifer Pope, Senior Bat Advisor

Jen has worked on the helpline at BCT since 2007, starting as a Seasonal Helpline Officer.

Jen graduated with a degree in Marine Biology from the University of Plymouth in 2005 and carried on at Plymouth to obtain an MSc in Zoo Conservation Biology. She decided on a career in conservation after travelling to Madagascar in her gap year, where she studied for a BTEC in Tropical Habitat Conservation.

Jen works part-time mainly writing Natural England advice letters. Her hobbies aside from bats include her young family, hiking the Cornish coast path, diving and hen keeping.

Email Jen: jpope@bats.org.uk

Charley Bird, Senior Bat Advisor

Charley Bird, Senior Bat Advisor

Charley joined the Bat Conservation Trust as a Seasonal Bat Advisor in May 2021, and has since progressed through their role to become a Senior Bat Advisor and the UK Bat Care Network Co-ordinator. Charley has been a bat carer for 4 years and is currently training to become a Volunteer Bat Roost Visitor with Natural England. Their interest in bats was first triggered by entering an underground cave in Cuba and witnessing thousands of bats roosting on a university field trip. They have a BSc in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science, and has previously worked as an ecologist for several consultancies.

In their spare time Charley enjoys reading, wildlife-watching and creating artwork.


Email Charley: cbird@bats.org.uk

Hazel Tocock, Bat in Churches Advisor

Hazel Tocock, Bat in Churches Advisor

Hazel originally joined the BCT as a Seasonal Bat Advisor in 2016 during which time she became an avid bat fan and a keen ambassador for their conservation. At the end of the BCT season, Hazel went back to her archaeology origins and returned to the Museum sector. This included living, working and retraining as a Jeweller in the Outer Hebrides on the Isle of Lewis. Many summer evenings were spent detecting and watching the Lewisian bats fly around Lews Castle! Upon returning to London to renovate a narrowboat, Hazel was thrilled to rejoin the BCT as a Seasonal Advice Writer for the summer of 2023. After which, she progressed to Bat Advisor and then to her current role as the Bats in Churches Advisor.

Email Hazel: htocock@bats.org.uk

Siobhan Dempsey, Bat Advisor

Siobhan Dempsey, Bat Advisor

I have been interested in wildlife from an early age, but it was in my teens that I became passionate about British wildlife and the nature that can be found on our doorsteps. This led to me studying Zoology during my undergrad, and I later pursued a MSc in Biodiversity, Evolution, and Conservation which I graduated from in 2022. During 2022 I also became the first NightWatch intern for the Bat Conservation Trusts NightWatch Project. I was thrilled to join this fantastic project, not only as an avid lover of bats, but also as someone who deeply cares about diversifying the conservation sector and engaging new communities in wildlife conservation. In 2023 I was welcomed back to BCT on the National Bat Helpline as a Seasonal Bat Advisor, and I am now also assisting on the UK bat care network project and the volunteer bat care helpline project.

Email Siobhan: sdempsey@bats.org.uk

Next: Science & Monitoring