Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees is responsible for guiding and directing how we are managed and run. They ensure Bat Conservation Trust is carrying out its purpose, as set out by its governing document and within the law. All trustees give their time, expertise and support on a voluntary capacity and they share our vision of a world rich in wildlife where bats and people thrive together.
Jean Matthews (Chair)
Jean was inspired to join the Avon Bat Group after meeting the noctules, Fred and Freda, at a talk given by Gareth Jones in the first “Year of the Bat”, 1986. She joined the Gwynedd Bat Group in 1989 and became a bat carer soon after that. She started working as Protected Species Advisor for the Nature Conservancy Council in 1990 and trained as bat licence trainer in 1994.
She continued in that role until joining the Countryside Council for Wales’ Species Team as Mammal Ecologist (Bats and Riparian Mammals) in 2004. She was a member of the Editorial Board for the Bat Survey Guidelines and of the steering groups for various research projects. She was responsible for managing the Wales Lesser Horseshoe Bat Summer Roost Monitoring Scheme before it was taken on by the NBMP. She feels privileged to spend time observing these tantalizing creatures and to be able to count at the same sites she has been visiting since the early 1990s.
Jean retired from Natural Resources Wales in 2017 but has retained a role with the Eurobats’ Advisory Committee and also sits on the Natural England Bat Expert Panel. She was also the North Wales Bat Groups’ delegate to BCT Forum for several years.
Steve Roe (Vice Chair)
As an active voluntary bat worker for the last eighteen years, Steve has become known to many bat workers and bat groups across the UK. He represents the Derbyshire Bat Conservation Group (DBCG) at the bi-annual East and West Midlands bat groups meetings and is a regular attendee and participant at BCT’s national and regional bat conferences. In 2017, he co-organised a three-day autumn swarming conference.
Steve joined DBCG when he was twelve years’ old and enjoyed bat work so much that he decided to turn his passion into a career and became a professional ecologist, now specialising in bat ecology. Steve is interested in linking the technologically-minded millennial generation of volunteers and their skill set with bat groups to help with new technologies such as social media and GIS mapping of records.
Ruth Waters (Treasurer)
Ruth is Director of Evidence for Natural England. She supports Natural England in the development of applied science and evidence to inform evidence-led advice for practical action and management for conservation and the natural environment.
Ruth’s early career was as a mammologist, working on Daubenton’s bats in Wharfdale and then as the mammal specialist for the Countryside Council for Wales including work on monitoring lesser horseshoe bats. Since that time, she has worked on a wide range of projects within Natural England and has broad multi-disciplinary experience including working with economists, social scientists, artists, health experts, social justice experts, historians and ecologists to seek better ways of understanding, valuing and managing our natural environment for people and nature. Ruth was recently awarded the British Ecological Society Prize for Ecological Engagement.
Ruth has always maintained her love of bats over the years and is really keen to bring all her experience working in the conservation sector and in policy and delivery to help support BCT and bat conversation for a thriving future.
Annika (Ani) Binet (Hon. Secretary)
Annika has been an active volunteer bat worker since 2007, first in Australia, then in the Channel Islands and is now based back on the UK mainland where she works as an ecological consultant with a specialism in advanced bat surveys. She has been a member of a selection of UK and CI based bat groups since 2008, served two separate terms as Chair of the Jersey Bat Group, from 2009 to 2011 and from 2015 to 2016, and was a member of the committee of Hampshire Bat Group from 2019 until 2023. Her experience has given Annika a good understanding of the day to day operation of a charitable bat group and of volunteer bat workers generally.
Annika founded her own bat research and training non-profit organisation with a small team of research volunteers in order to conduct additional Channel Island wide bat research projects. She has given talks and provided training to volunteer bat workers not just in Jersey but also for the Societe Guernsiaise Bat Section in Guernsey and the Alderney Wildlife Trust; as well as giving talks for numerous UK bat groups as well as at regional and national conferences.
Having been based within a small island bat group for 11 years, having connections across the other islands and now being based back on the mainland UK, Annika is in a unique position to understand the concerns of a range of partner groups. In particular, she understands the different concerns of the island bat groups, especially in relation to the small pool of experience, equipment and funding - you cannot just ask a member of a neighbouring county bat group to drive across the border to help with a fundraising, research or training event.
Cerys is a stand-up comedian, podcaster and writer. They have performed at the Edinburgh Fringe, Leicester Comedy Festival, and the Green Man Festival, amongst others, receiving five star reviews for their most recent show from publications such as Diva Magazine. They are a member of the Soho Theatre Young Company and reached the semi-final stage of the Amused Moose new comedian competition in 2020. In 2019, they filmed a comedy set for BBC Sesh which has had 2.3 million views on Facebook and has since been featured on BBC One Wales. As a podcast producer and editor they have helped to create multiple podcasts that communicate academic research to the general public, including the award-winning podcast Coronavirus: The Whole Story.
Cerys has a PhD in Crime and Security Science from UCL and wrote their dissertation on the Dark Web. Whilst studying, they worked as a Student Engager across UCL's museums and it was during their Saturdays at the Grant Museum of Zoology that they developed a keen interest in bats. They have been interested in bat conservation ever since and want to make a meaningful contribution to the protection of bat species in the UK. They hope that they can use their science communication and content creation skills to help BCT reach new audiences whilst learning about the communities, and all about the bats, that it serves.
Stuart is an employment law barrister at Old Square Chambers where he has practised since 1999. He covers the full spectrum of individual and collective employment law. His practice areas include industrial relations, discrimination, and judicial review. He is ranked as a leading barrister in Chambers & Partners, Legal 500, and Who’s Who Legal.
He has previously been a director and Management Committee member of the Employment Lawyers Association, and also a member of the Bar Standards Board Qualifications Committee. He has also lectured in employment law at the London School of Economics.
Stuart hopes that his legal expertise and experience will benefit the BCT in dealing with the challenges it faces. He also very much wishes to increase his knowledge of bats and their habitats.
Abi is currently Director of Conservation Science and Design at Fauna & Flora International (FFI). After studying Zoology at Oxford she undertook a PhD at Aberdeen University with Professors Paul Racey and John Speakman, focusing on conservation biology of the brown long-eared bat. This involved three years of roost visits, ringing and radio tracking, and resulted in an ongoing passion for bats.
Following her PhD she worked on a conservation project targeting the Pemba flying fox in Tanzania. This project was partly funded by FFI, and after her return to the UK she started volunteering for FFI, and has stayed there ever since, in a variety of roles.
Abi has been a trustee of BCT since 2015 and given her ongoing fascination with bats has loved being able to reconnect with the work of BCT during that time. She hopes that her experience in conservation planning and impact assessment, and in the application of conservation science in conservation management can be useful to BCT going forward.
Colette Marshall is Director of Operations at Diabetes UK responsible for Volunteering, Services and our work in communities across the nations and regions of the UK. She has also played a big part in strategy development especially futures thinking and horizon scanning. Colette joined Diabetes UK in 2013 after roles in MEND, Save the Children, Merlin, Centrepoint and the Big Issue. In all her roles there was a focus on poverty and the inequalities this drives. She has experience of large scale campaigning, of working in coalitions, and of fundraising and partnerships. She has held Trustee roles in the past. Her career started as a research scientist and then later on innovation and leading a business in the corporate sector. She has an Exec MBA from London Business School and is a qualified coach.
Colette has watched bats for years for the sheer pleasure that they bring and is lucky enough to live near a specially created bat roost. She discovered BCT over lockdown and has been inspired by the great training it gives to volunteers and has joined the London Bat Group. Colette hopes to use her charity experience to support BCT in thriving in the changing world so that bats and the ecosystems they live in are protected.
John Randall (Lord Randall of Uxbridge)
John has had a passion for wildlife from his earliest days. He has been a member of the RSPB for over 55 years. After studying Serbo-Croat at London University he joined the family retail business but his love of nature was never far away and he was a tour leader for several specialist birdwatching companies at the same time.
He was elected a Member of Parliament from 1997 until 2015. During his time in Parliament John put forward the Marine Wildlife Conservation Bill. This ultimately led to the Marine and Coastal Access Act of 2009. He retired from Parliament in 2015 to spend more time campaigning on the issues that mattered to him. He has served as a Council Member of the RSPB and is currently a Trustee of the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum, a Vice–President of Fauna and Flora International as well as a Trustee of other non-wildlife charities. In 2017 he became Prime Minister Theresa May’s Special Adviser on the Environment.
Now in the House of Lords, he is a strong advocate for wildlife and conservation. He is really keen to learn more about bats and getting to grips with his bat detector as well as using his business and political knowledge to give bats and their conservation the attention they deserve.
Orly is a molecular ecologist and conservation biologist researching the ecological and evolutionary responses of bats to global environmental changes, from climate change to habitat loss and fragmentation. Her research is applied in nature, aiming to provide the evidence base for managing our environment. Therefore, she work closely with conservation organisations, like the Bat Conservation Trust, and policy makers to develop evidence-based management recommendations. She is a senior lecturer in ecology at the University of Exeter, leading the Global Change Genetics Group, which includes seven PhD students, most of whom research the impacts of environmental changes on bats. She sits on the scientific advisory committee of the UNEP EUROBATS Agreement and the scientific committee of the Earth Hologenome Initiative. She is the academic representative of the British Ecological Society climate change group and a board member of Bats without Borders.
Orly has been working with bats for 16 years, beginning with her undergraduate research project on bats of the Northern Peruvian Amazon. Since then, she has worked with bats in the deserts of the Middle East, across Britain, southern Europe and the Ethiopian Highlands. She did her PhD at the University of Bristol on the conservation biology of the grey long-eared bat, under the supervision of Prof Gareth Jones and in collaboration with BCT. As part of her PhD, together with BCT, she published a management plan for the grey long-eared bat that has received wide media interest and contributed to the grey long-eared bat being granted a priority species status in England. Bat conservation is not only at the heart of Orly’s research, but more importantly, something she thrive on promoting and contributing to. Being a BCT Trustee will give her the opportunity to directly contribute to bat conservation in the UK and to contribute to an organisation she has closely worked with for 12 years.
Helen is Executive Director of The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S). She is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), a Practitioner Member of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment and an Accredited Social Return on Investment Practitioner. She sits on the ICAEW Sustainability Committee and the Capitals Coalition Advisory Panel. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and an Executive MBA.
Having qualified as a Chartered Accountant, Helen moved into sustainable business in 2006, initially with PwC, working with a diverse portfolio of cross sector organizations and supporting them to deal with a wide variety of strategic, operational, regulatory and reporting challenges. In her current role at A4S, Helen has a responsibility across all aspects of A4S activities, focusing much of her time on their external Chief Financial Officer Programme and Knowledge and Technical Programmes, and internally on governance, finance and operations for the charity. Helen has also spent five years as a Trustee, including two years as Treasurer, of Diversity Role Models – a charity aimed at eradicating homophobic bullying in education.
Helen’s love of nature and wildlife has been with her since childhood and steered her career from finance into sustainability. In working with BCT, she hopes to bring her combined experience back into conservation at a grass roots level and to enhance her own understanding of wildlife conservation fieldwork and research.
Matthew runs his own evaluation and research consultancy from the West Midlands. He supports some of the most respected charities in the UK like the RNLI, Marie Curie, and Macmillan Cancer Support; and learned societies such as the Royal Society, the British Academy and the Royal Academy of Engineering. Before going into consulting, he was a diplomat for ten years working in London, Warsaw and Dubai. He left to complete an MBA at Manchester Business School.
Matthew was Chair of Worcestershire Bat Group (2015-18) and is a former bat rehabilitator. He’s an active local bat group member leading public bat walks, giving talks on a variety of bat-related subjects, running information stalls, and participating in the NBMP. He has previous experience of voluntary board positions, having recently stepped down as Chair of Kidderminster College Board of Governors after eight years in the post.
Matthew is keen to share his extensive experience of charity governance, strategy and impact with BCT to ensure that the organisation is able to be the very best possible advocate for bat conservation.