About us

Meet our Trustees

Essex Wildlife Trust has a Board of Trustees that consists of 13 members, all of whom are unpaid volunteers. The Board meets around six times a year and is responsible for the overall governance and direction of the Trust, whereas operational management of the Trust is the responsibility of the Chief Executive Officer and Senior Managers of the Trust. Three main committees report to the Board: Finance and Audit Committee, HR Committee and Health & Safety Committee.

Keeley Hazelhurst - Chair

Keeley Hazelhurst - Trustee

It has been my honour to have been with the Trust since 2016 as Honorary Treasurer and trustee.

I currently run my own consultancy and accounting business from North Essex, working on a very hands-on basis with smaller businesses and local charities. I am a qualified accountant with over 25 years’ experience in the private and charity sectors. I have been fortunate to work as a trustee, volunteer, school governor and founding member of a variety of charities and community groups, and have recently been appointed as a magistrate too.

I worry greatly about the impact we have on our environment, the future for our children and the disregard that our ‘leaders’ have for the planet we live on. I am a strong believer in holding people to account and standing up for what you believe in. I believe that EWT is a great advocate for our environment, that it takes action where necessary and protects our wildlife for the future. I am very proud to be a small part of this inspirational team.

Geoff Duffield

Geoff Duffield - Trustee

I'm a relative newcomer to both Essex, and Essex Wildlife Trust, having moved to the county from London in 2015, and then joining the board of trustees in January 2017. I feel enormously privileged and proud to be given the opportunity to serve the trust, and to help protect the unique habitat and wildlife of my adopted county. After a lifelong passion for the environment, I am now also a fledgling coastal warden for the trust, with my patch being a stretch of the West Mersea shoreline. 

My professional background and expertise is in brand, media, marketing and social media, in the book publishing industry. In 2018, I set-up my own business, a brand agency specialising in working with authors. Previously I was Creative Director for the publisher Pan Macmillan (and board member for 16 years) leading their global author-brand strategy. Authors that I currently work with include Jeffrey Archer, Peter James, and Elton John.

I love the Essex landscape, and particularly our beautiful maritime environment, and as a passionate photographer I look forward to visiting all of our reserves, and meeting our wardens who do such brilliant work.

Malcolm Hardy

Malcolm Hardy - Trustee

Following a successful, 30-year career in the police service, I currently work as a qualified teacher of biology in post-16 education, with recent experience in all key stages from primary to postgraduate level.

With a lifelong passionate interest and concern for wildlife and the natural environment, I have been involved over the past forty years with conservation projects in the UK and abroad, as a participant, organiser and leader. Such projects have included tree-planting and nest-box building, beach clean-ups, wetland and reedbed restoration, seabed mapping of benthic habitats, Amazonian turtle and West-Indian Manatee protection and giving talks and leading activities as a volunteer for Essex Wildlife Trust.

In 2014 I completed a PhD in Environmental Science at the University of Essex, for which I conducted research in the Colne estuary on the ecology and prospects for regeneration of the native European oyster, Ostrea edulis. I presented a conference paper on native oysters to the Estuarine and Coastal Science Association (ECSA) symposium in 2009. I also hold a Bachelor’s degree in marine biology and Master’s degree in Freshwater and coastal science from UCL, for which I co-authored a published paper on succession of saltmarshes at Abbotts Hall Farm.

I have an active network of environmental and academic contacts within universities and environmental professions.

As family members of EWT for several years, my wife, children and I are regular visitors to our local reserves, especially in the north of the county.

Bob Holmes

Bob Holmes

I am a chartered accountant who acts as a professional trustee for two defined benefit pension schemes and provides strategic and financial advice to owner-managed businesses. I was a Non-Executive Member of the Dover Harbour Board between 2005 and 2013 and continue to chair their Board of Pension Trustees. From 2006 to 2015 I was a Non-Executive Director of Basildon Hospital, and their Acting Chairman for the last 6 months of my term. I also have many years’ experience as finance director for a range of organisations including Stena Line (UK) Ltd and Prism Rail PLC.

I was first appointed a Trustee in 2016, but stepped down in 2018 when I expected to be moving out of the County. The move did not happen and I’m delighted to have re-joined the Board of Trustees in 2020 to continue to bring my financial, commercial and governance experience to the Trust as Treasurer, ensuring that it makes best use of all of its resources to promote the aims and deliver the objectives that we all share.

I have lived in Peldon, near Colchester since 2001 and play an active part in a village that was awarded Essex Village of the Year by the Rural Community Council of Essex in 2019.

Charles Joynson

Charles Joynson - Trustee

Since spending much of my childhood and teenage years working in conservation projects and exploring our natural world, I have gained degrees in geology and business, and spent most of my professional life working in the life sciences industry. In 2000 I set up my own 10 person data and informatics consultancy, a long term corporate member of EWT, and have polished my skills in sales, marketing, IT and business research. My reason for seeking election to EWT is that I am extremely concerned at the rate at which our wildlife is vanishing and am determined to do something about it. In my spare time I write about extinction, and like to discuss some of the reasons we should fight to save our natural world before it’s too late.

Michelle Wall

Michelle Wall

I was born in Wiltshire and moved back to Essex as a child, where my family have lived for generations.  I am very proud to say that I love the Essex countryside and spend much of my spare time outside.  I have two children and three grandchildren and believe that the best education and foundation for learning comes from being in the wild green spaces of the county. 

My career has been within the Human Resources and Learning and Development profession, working in many different sectors but most recently the Technical industry .  Whilst data technology might be seen as far away from nature as you can possibly get, it plays a great part in understanding our natural world from research and monitoring giving us insight, that can be used to enable our cause.  Technology can also give access to many people so that they can see the natural world and habitats that they might otherwise not be able to access.

Throughout my career I have been responsible for welfare, engagement and sustainability, I hope that my skills will aid the Trust's strategy in these areas for staff, volunteers and members alike.   

I worry that future generations will not see our environment and green spaces in the same way as I have been able and I want to give my service to help towards a better environment for the people and the wildlife of Essex.

Sarah Balser

Sarah Balser

I have lived in Essex all my life and I am married to Gary with 2 daughters and 4 small grand children. More than ever, the natural habitat and wildlife in Essex mean so much to me, and it is wonderful to share these experiences with my family.

My career working in third sector organisations spans 30 years, spending nearly 20 years at the NSPCC. During that time I held a number of management roles, focused on leading teams to generate revenue in order to maintain and develop services for some of society’s most vulnerable members.

My last role at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children – Head of Regional Appeals - included delivering the charity’s Full Stop campaign of the late 1990s across the South East of England. A groundbreaking campaign at the time, raising £250 million, more than any other UK fundraising appeal in history.

I was invited by Chickenshed Theatre Company to create their fundraising strategy and took up the role of Director of Fundraising & Marketing. During this time, I created and delivered new initiatives and products that produced a more sustainable and robust platform for growth.

I joined the international medical charity Mercy Ships in 2010 as UK Campaigns Director. I continued to play an active role in pioneering work making a difference to many lives across the globe.

In October 2019 I joined MIND as CEO of the Havering, Barking & Dagenham Service working to support people of all ages in their journey to recovery from mental health distress. As the leading mental health charity in these Boroughs, Havering MIND provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem, through service delivery, raising awareness and promoting understanding in the community.

I have undergone training to be a Court Child Witness Support and an Appropriate Adult supporting vulnerable young adults through the judicial system. I am also a volunteer ChildLine Counsellor and a Board Member of the Oral Health Foundation.

Catherine Hawkins

Catherine Hawkins

I am a commercial specialist with over 20 years of experience in the sales and sponsorship sector. I started my career in advertising sales, and after a successful period as Group Sales Manager for Sport Business International, I launched Think!Sponsorship in October 2002.

Under my guidance, Think!Sponsorship has developed and created a number of tools for the sponsorship industry including the largest one-day sponsorship conference in the UK, research tool Find!Sponsorship, the Talk!Sponsorship networking series and the acclaimed Sell!Your Sponsorship workshop training events. I specialise in working with sponsorship-seekers to identify assets and opportunities with the goal of converting these into sustainable commercial programmes with particular emphasis in the charity and environmental sectors.

I work with the European Sponsorship Association and have developed an accreditation programme for sponsorship sales practitioners with the goal of raising sales standards across the industry. I am a regular contributor to conferences and industry events across Europe, and an active mentor to young professionals.

I am excited to be joining the Essex Wildlife Trust and keen to apply my experience in membership and corporate partnerships, to supporting the strategic vision. A life-long lover of nature and the outdoors, I am keen to help inspire a new generation of members and supporters to engage and enjoy the natural world. Inspired by the accessible spaces and opportunities the EWT provide to the local community, I am looking forward to being an active and supportive member of the board. 

Thoko Kaime

Thoko Kaime

I am a British-Malawian lawyer and I am currently engaged as Professor and Chair of African Legal Studies at University of Bayreuth in Germany. I have enjoyed a career in law that has spanned court practice, specialist consulting and academia. I bring to the Essex Wildlife Trust extensive legal and regulatory expertise in sustainability governance garnered through my training and practice as an environmental lawyer, alongside wide-ranging managerial experience through senior leadership positions in higher education and previous roles in risk management.

I believe that we owe it to our children and the generations after us to leave a strong legacy in how we value nature, particularly through our care of ecosystems and the natural resources that they nurture. As a resident of Essex, I am thrilled to be giving back to my community through my work with the Essex Wildlife Trust.

Naomi Kingston

Naomi Kingston

I am a conservation scientist and manager with over 20 years of experience at progressively senior levels in academia, consultancy, government and not-for profit sectors, and at national, regional and international levels.  I am currently Head of Operations at UNEP-WCMC in Cambridge, with responsibilities including programmatic oversight, performance management, compliance, and human resources. 

Prior to this I spent seven years leading UNEP-WCMCs programme of work on protected and conserved areas, the marine environment, and knowledge management. Working with a wide range of national and international stakeholders, the focus on this work was delivering high-quality information on the natural world to strengthen the delivery of national environmental policies and tracking global targets such as the Sustainable Development Goals.

Following a PhD in Conservation Biology from Trinity College, Dublin, I worked as a post-doctoral research fellow and as an environmental consultant, before spending nearly ten years as a Conservation Scientist with the Irish government’s nature conservation agency.

Throughout my career I have been inspired by observing the positive impacts that policy decisions can make for people and the environment, when they are underpinned by solid and accessible scientific data and information.

Elin Simonsson

Elin Simonsson

I specialise in planning and creating exhibitions and learning experiences for the museum and heritage sectors. During my career, I have led the creation of audience engagement activities for variety of organisations, including the Natural History Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the National Trust. I originally trained as an Archaeologist, which has given me an interest in understanding the impacts of human interactions with nature through time. By learning from the past, we can be better prepared for the future.

In my current role, I head up interpretation and audience engagement development at Nissen Richards Studio, a design and architecture practice that works across architecture, exhibitions design, interpretation and experience development. We work with a wide range of clients to develop exhibitions and other types of visitor experiences, sometimes set within buildings, sometimes across landscapes.

During nine years at London’s Natural History Museum, I developed a passion for connecting people with nature, both past and present, particularly with the purpose of encouraging them to care for and protect the natural world. I strongly believe that if we can make people care, we can also make them change the way they think and act.  

James Wren

James Wren

I have worked across a range of organisations from event management companies to banks and charities. I have spent the last 20 years in the charity and leisure sector in fundraising, marketing and communication roles. I am currently the Director of Fundraising at the Zoological Society of London, a charity devoted to the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. ZSL leads ground-breaking science, operates conservation programmes in over 60 countries and directly engages with over 2 million people annually through ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo as well as reaching audiences across the world.

I live in Essex and spend much of my spare time outdoors (I can often be spotted running, cycling or walking in the amazing landscapes of Essex throughout the year!). I am also a Trustee for Sense About Science and being part of the Essex Wildlife Trust I want to bring all my experience together to help protect the amazing wildlife that resides, or visits, the county!

How to become a Trustee

Any member of Essex Wildlife Trust may apply to become a Trustee, provided they are eligible to stand for election under both company law and charity law. No fixed qualifications are needed, but a wide range of skills and experience are required in order for our Board of Trustees to be effective. Trustees may only serve for a maximum of three terms of three years (9 total).

If you are interested in becoming a Trustee, contact Fiona Hearn, Office Manager by phoning 01621 862960 or email. Trustees are elected at our Annual General Meeting, held each September.