Board of Trustees
Kirsty Park (Chair)
Kirsty is a Professor in Conservation Science at the University of Stirling. Her interest in bats was sparked as a teenager when a bat flew in to the house and was rescued from being washed down a plug hole. She then went on to do a degree in Biology at Leeds University where, by happy coincidence, John Altringham was based and became involved with his research in the North York Moors. Following this she completed a PhD in bat ecology at Bristol University under the supervision of both Gareth Jones and John.
Since then her research interests have broadened to encompass the effects of anthropogenic change on biodiversity and how best to manage this. Much of this relates to animal ecology and conservation in managed environments (e.g. urban, agricultural, forestry).
Kirsty hopes that her experience will help BCT continue to expand its scientific research and that the results of this are implemented for the benefit of bat conservation.
Jean Matthews (Vice-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.
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.
Annika has been an active volunteer bat worker since 2007, first in Australia and then in Jersey. She has been a member of the Jersey Bat Group since 2008 and has served two separate terms as Chair of the Jersey Bat Group. Annika is also a member of the Wiltshire Bat Group and has worked with a number of other bat groups.
Her various bat group experience gives her 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; and she is also establishing connections with the conservation volunteers in Sark.
Bob Cornes (Hon. Secretary)
Bob has been involved with bats and a member of the Bedfordshire Bat Group for 27 years. He has been a licensed bat worker for most of that time. He has served as Chair and is currently Treasurer of the Bat Group. He is also a member of the Cambridgeshire and North Bucks Bat Groups. Bob has been a member of BCT for 25 years. He was a member of the first group that initiated the BCT review some years ago, and he has had more informal contact with BCT in relation to Count Bat and other projects.
Before taking early retirement from teaching, Bob spent thirty years teaching biology, mostly at A level. Dealing with (occasionally reluctant) students and (occasionally difficult) colleagues certainly had a sharpening effect on his communication skills and understanding of human motivation.
He has previous experience of serving on a Board of Trustees, having served on the Council of his local Wildlife Trust for two spells totalling eleven years. Bob is familiar with BCT’s processes having been a BCT Trustee since 2012 and hopes to take on the role of Honorary Secretary for the two years remaining of his term on the BCT Board.
Roger is Chief Executive of the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (GWT), the county’s largest environmental charity with 28,000 members and over 60 nature reserves. He joined GWT in 2013 from the Soil Association where he was Deputy Director and Chair of the Food for Life Partnership. Previously he has worked in policy, communications and fundraising roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal College of Nursing and the national volunteer agency, Community Service Volunteers.
He is also Chair of the Soil Association Land Trust which holds productive land in trust for future generations, and a Trustee at Hawkwood College. His interest in bats started when he was given a bat detector, aged 12. Professionally he has a particular interest in green infrastructure in the built environment, finding solutions that work for both bats and people.
Rupert is Non-Fiction Publisher at Hodder & Stoughton, responsible for memoirs, history, politics, current affairs and the natural world.
Born in Hereford, he trained as a teacher before moving to bookselling and then into publishing. After working as Publicity Director of Jonathan Cape, he became Group Marketing Director, then Editorial Director of Chatto & Windus. He was head of Random House Enterprises before joining Hodder Headline in 1995.
He's had a life-long interest in the natural world and as a director of the Fortis Green Community Allotments Trust in north London, he worked with the Haringey Wildlife Officer to enhance the biodiversity of the allotment site and the adjoining grounds of Tetherdown School, where he was a Community Governor. His interest in bats began when he published The Complete Bat by James Robertson while working at Chatto & Windus in 1990.
Rupert is particularly interested in the PR and marketing side of conservation and the role of local and central government. He believes that a stronger media presence for bats in general and BCT in particular is essential - and wants to work with BCT staff on this - as well as using his experience of thirty years in publishing to advise BCT as appropriate on intellectual property, copyright and other related issues.
Ruth is Deputy Chief Scientist for Natural England. She supports Natural England in the development of applied science and evidence to inform evidence-based 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.
Steve Markham (Treasurer)
Steve is a Director of Marquis & Lord, a company of consulting scientists predominantly focused on water management and data science. He has an intense interest in conservation, and for the last 25 years has lived in a batty household.
He is currently a member of both Devon & Cornwall bat groups, undertakes NBMP surveys, Natural England roost visits and enjoys going to bat conferences. He has been a Natural England volunteer roost visitor for the past 23 years. He is a member of the editorial board for the BCT Bat Survey Guidelines and advocates the application of data science to the world of bats.
As a BCT Trustee Steve hopes to bring his commercial and bat experience to support BCT with its future objectives.
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.
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.