Conservation

Ruth Testa, Head of Conservation Projects

Ruth Testa, Head of Conservation Projects

Ruth joined BCT in 2021 as Head of Conservation Projects, leading on managing the delivery of large conservation projects in partnership with other conservation bodies and charities. She has over 14 years’ experience working in conservation for county Wildlife Trusts and more recently in ecological consultancy. Between 2016 and 2020 Ruth was the Project Manager for the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project, a county wide partnership project working to secure the future of greater horseshoe bats. Much of her career has been spent in conservation land management and managing large scale conservation projects. Ruth has a particular interest in landscape scale conservation and how this fits with agriculture.

Ruth’s interest in bats was sparked in 2008 when she was on a butterfly surveying trip in Hungary and was able to witness over 2000 greater horseshoe bats emerging from their mine roost. On her return to the UK, she immediately joined her local bat group. In her spare time, she loves inspiring others about our nocturnal mammals, leading bat walks in her local area.

Ruth is a full member of CIEEM and a member of Devon Bat Group.

Rebecca Wright-Davies, Swansea Bay - Stars of the Night Development Officer

Rebecca Wright-Davies, Swansea Bay - Stars of the Night Development Officer

Rebecca joined BCT in 2021 as the Project Development Officer for the Natur an Byth! (‘Nature Forever’) Swansea Bay Stars of the Night Project. The Natur am Byth! project is funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and Welsh Government.

Rebecca first became interested in bats in 1999 when she was living in Cork, Ireland and attended a bat walk with the Cork Bat Group. This sparked a curiosity and inspired her to study bats in rural and urban environments in Swansea and Gower for her MSc in Environmental Biology in 2001. She has also taken part in bat survey projects and undertaken bat roost counts with various bat groups.

Rebecca also currently works for the South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre (SEWBReC) as the Senior Biodiversity Data & Enquiries Officer three days a week managing their data enquiries service. She previously worked at Newport City Council as their Biodiversity Officer co-ordinating and implementing their Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP).

Rebecca has also volunteered for many citizen science projects and is passionate about engaging and involving people in wildlife recording. She is excited to see how new technology can engage more people in conservation and provide more opportunities for them to discover and learn about bats.

Email Rebecca: RWrightDavies@bats.org.uk

Lisa Worledge, Head of Conservation Services

Lisa Worledge, Head of Conservation Services

Lisa joined BCT in May 2011 as Partnerships Officer and was promoted to Head of Conservation Services in April 2016. Lisa line manages BCT's Bat Groups Officer, Scottish Officer, Wales Officer, Training Manager, our two Helpline Managers and the Bats in Churches (BiC) Project Training & Survey Officer. She also sits on the Steering Group for the BiC Project.

Her interest in bats was first sparked by a bat walk with the Birmingham and Black Country Bat Group in 2008. This is Lisa’s second career having worked in the IT industry for 13 years. After completing a BSc in Ecology & Conservation (Hons) at Coventry University, Lisa worked as an ecologist and as the coordinator for the Warwickshire, Coventry & Solihull Local Biodiversity Action Plan Partnership. Lisa has been a Natural England Volunteer Bat Roost Visitor since 2011. She completed an MSc in Biological Recording with the University of Birmingham in 2012.

Lisa has some interesting additional aspects to her role including being the primary contact at BCT for bats and diseases (supported by Becky Wilson, Laura Brown and other colleagues), and a project to implement a centralised database for ringed bats and guidelines for bat ringing (financially supported by bat groups and bat ringers). Lisa enjoys giving talks and running workshops (she is delighted to be a tutor on the bats module on her old MSc Programme!).

Email Lisa: lworledge@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

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 for the Wellcome Trust and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. During her 10 years in Jersey with Durrell, she gave more fruit bat talks than she cares to remember and always managed to mention their smaller local cousins as well.

Email Naomi: nwebster@bats.org.uk

Claire Boothby, Training & Survey Officer, Bats in Churches Project

Claire Boothby, Training & Survey Officer, Bats in Churches Project

Claire joined BCT in January 2019 as the Training and Survey Officer for the Bats in Churches Project; a partnership made possible by Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF). She found her love of bats whilst on her first bat walk, held at National Trust’s Polesden Lacey, which inspired her to learn more and to later take part in the Waterway and the Sunset/Sunrise Surveys.

Claire is passionate about helping to reduce conflict between people and the conservation of wildlife, and gained her MSc qualification in Ecological Applications at Imperial College London in 2016. Since then Claire has worked with citizen scientists across UK to monitor British wildlife. Claire previously worked for British Trust for Ornithology as the Development Officer for BTO Garden BirdWatch and as the Organiser of the Tawny Owl Calling Survey.

Email Claire: cboothby@bats.org.uk

Dr Giada Giacomini, Bats in Churches Survey Admin Officer & Science Projects Manager

Dr Giada Giacomini, Bats in Churches Survey Admin Officer & Science Projects Manager

Giada first joined the Bat Conservation Trust as a Science Intern in January 2021 and has worked on different projects with the Science & Monitoring Team. She is now supporting the community science Bats in Churches Project and managing a range of science projects.

Giada’s love for nature was sparked by growing up in a farm in central Italy. Her interest in bat conservation sparked when she found a group of reproductive females of Kuhl's pipistrelle in the roof of her childhood house. For her PhD in evolutionary biology at the Liverpool John Moores University, Giada studied the relationship between bat skull morphology and echolocation parameters in over 200 species of bats and greatly enjoyed learning about the morphological adaptations of these amazing animals.

Email Giada: ggiacomini@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, Senior Bat Advisor

Tristan Evans, Senior Bat Advisor

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

Lexi Hemshaw, Senior Bat Advisor

Lexi Hemshaw, Senior Bat Advisor

Lexi joined BCT Helpline Team in February 2022 as one of our Senior Bat Advisors.

She found her love of bats during her Masters, leading to her thesis to be all about bats: ‘The effects of lighting systems on bat activity and distribution at Swansea University’. Since, she has worked as a Volunteer Coordinator with other wildlife conservation charities, finding a balance between public engagement and conservation education. Outside of work Lexi has a conservation education podcast ‘Wild About Conservation’, enjoys hiking, and is working towards a Scuba diving qualification.

Email Lexi: lhemshaw@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

Sophie Dennis, Bat Advisor

Sophie Dennis, Bat Advisor

Sophie first joined BCT as a Seasonal Bat Advisor on the National Bat Helpline in May 2020. Since then she has worked part-time as the Bat Groups Admin Officer and is now back on the Helpline as a permanent member of the team.

Whilst working at BCT she is also studying for a masters degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Queen Mary University of London, researching ancient wolf population dynamics and early dog domestication.

Outside of work, Sophie is a Trustee for the London Bat Group, enjoys painting, hiking and being out in nature whenever possible with her two dogs Honeybee and Guinness.

Email Sophie: sdennis@bats.org.uk

Charley Bird, Seasonal Bat Advisor

Charley Bird, Seasonal Bat Advisor

Charley joined the Bat Conservation Trust as a Seasonal Bat Advisor in May 2021. 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. She has a BSc in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science, and has previously worked as an ecologist for several consultancies. She currently volunteers for the Vincent Wildlife Trust, undertaking roost counts for the National Bat Monitoring Programme.

Charley is one of the co-founders of a home-based wildlife rescue service, and specialises in bat rescue and rehabilitation, as well as small mammal and hedgehog rescue. Aside from bats, she has a keen interest in sharks and marine conservation, and is currently working with grassroots conservation organisation Planet Carnivore on a documentary series concerning UK shark species and the difficulties they face.

In their spare time, Charley enjoys singing and making wildlife art work, as well as scuba diving and wild swimming.

Email Charley: cbird@bats.org.uk

Milly Manley, Seasonal Bat Advisor

Milly Manley, Seasonal Bat Advisor

Milly used to teach English Language to adults, but in 2019 decided to change direction and started working towards a career in conservation. She completed an MSc in Global Biodiversity Conservation in 2021 and then worked as a research assistant at the University of Sussex until taking up her role as a Seasonal Bat Advisor for the Bat Conservation Trust.

Milly volunteers helping to maintain a wildflower meadow in a churchyard in Lewes and is part of Wildflower Lewes, who campaign for and monitor wildflower verges and amenity spaces. She founded Litter Free Lewes in 2017 and has since carried out many litter picks with volunteers, helping to clean up the local environment.

Milly has a dog, Theo the giant rescue spaniel, so spends a lot of time walking in the South Downs and also enjoys yoga and running (sporadically!).

Having studied pollinators for her final MSc project, Milly has a special interest in bees, hoverflies, moths, butterflies, and all things in the insect world. She recommends the book ‘Silent Earth’ by Dave Goulson as a must read to everyone! She loves bird watching and improving her bird ID and would like to train to become a bird ringer. Her love of bats was peaked by a light pollution lecture given by Prof Fiona Mathews at the University of Sussex, Milly has since joined the Sussex Bat Group and learned how to run bat walks.

Milly’s personal aim in conservation is to help connect people to nature and to help connect habitats, so that we can all benefit from a wilder, more connected landscape. She advocates car-free living, active and low-carbon travel. She feels strongly about loving all species equally, be they ‘pest’, domesticated, farm animal, or our beloved bats!

Email Milly: mmanley@bats.org.uk

Katherine Say, Seasonal Bat Advisor

Katherine Say, Seasonal Bat Advisor

Kat joined BCT in May 2022 as a Seasonal Bat Advisor on the National Bat Helpline. She graduated from the University of Sussex with a BSc (Hons) in Zoology in 2020 and an MSc in Global Biodiversity Conservation in 2021. She also has previously volunteered for the Brighton and Hove House Sparrow Project and interned at the Institution of Environmental Sciences in the summer of 2019. Her interest in bats was first triggered on a university field trip to Ecuador aiding a PhD student in a bat trapping survey using mist nets. Kat’s hobbies include trying new foods, art and going to the theatre.

Email Kat: ksay@bats.org.uk

Kerry Williams, Seasonal Bat Advisor

Kerry Williams, Seasonal Bat Advisor

Kerry studied a MSc in Advanced Wildlife Conservation in Practice at the University of the West of England, giving her the opportunity to learn practical conservation techniques with Bristol Zoological Society. Having originally trained in acting and English literature, Kerry's background includes working in creative writing and acting, sometimes even for money. Kerry spent several years working in early years and further education, with a specific focus on outdoor learning, and has interests rooted in social science communication and environmental accessibility. Hailing from Wiltshire and now living in East Sussex, Kerry spends her free time birding, laughing, and losing pub quizzes.

Email Kerry: kwilliams@bats.org.uk

Next: Science & Monitoring