Our Board of Trustees

Alison Willott - Chair of Trustees

Alison has always had a particular interest in plants and gardening. She and her husband moved to Wales 25 years ago, to an 18-acre holding, where they have hens and lots of wildlife, including rabbits, small mammals, owls, and a wide range of birds. Their garden is maintained to be wildlife-friendly and has been opened annually in aid of the Wildlife Trust. Alison is now retired, but over the years has been a civil servant, a teacher, a professional singer, a magistrate, a case worker and a debt adviser for the Citizens’ Advice Bureau! She has been Chair of the Monmouth branch of the Trust for about eight years, and a trustee for six years.  

Alison Willott Chair of Trustees

Alison Willott

Robert Waller - Vice Chair

Rob has been a trustee since 2012 and also volunteers for the Trust with the Levellers group based at Magor, and monitors mammal rafts there and bird boxes at Springdale. A retired civil servant with the Welsh Government he was a professional town planner for many years before moving to other areas such as finance and economic development. He lives in the centre of Newport.

Marc Leppard - Vice Chair

Marc has a 30 years background in risk, corporate governance and compliance. He has been a civil servant in the Home Office and Parliamentary Ombudsman, a financial services regulator and has also run compliance functions in financial services and in the corporate sector. He spent 11 years as a senior executive at BP plc: his last role as Global Head of Business Integrity.  He is now a management consultant and has worked on compliance remediation programmes at investment banks.  He currently runs a farm with pedigree Ryeland sheep, two donkeys, a colony of bats, 8 chickens, 2 ducks and myriad cats and dogs with a keen interest in sustainable farming practices.  He is also a trustee of a mental health charity and a technical college in Hereford and has been a non-executive director of a financial services trade association for 6 years. He was also recently appointed as a Lay Observer for the Ministry of Justice. Marc has a keen interest in conservation and protecting the environment. 

John Newton - Treasurer

From Newport, Gwent, I graduated from the University of Manchester with an Honours degree in Management Sciences and later gained an M Phil from Cardiff University on  “ Financial Decision Making in Universities”. As a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, I have a wealth of experience and expertise in all areas of financial management and accounting in the private and public sectors. For 3 years, I was the National Co-ordinator for Costing and Pricing for the UK Higher Education sector and have run many conferences on costing, pricing and other issues. 
After retiring from Cardiff University as Assistant Director of Finance, I enjoy gardening, rambling as a member and walk leader for both the Cardiff and Caerphilly Ramblers, leading/guiding RNIB monthly walks for visually impaired people, garden volunteering for the National Trust at Tredegar House, being a member of the National Trust and RSPB, playing bowls for Machen Bowling Club and nature conservation. 
I have a passion for nature and the environment and believe it is vital to protect our nature reserves and do as much as possible to support ongoing nature and wild life conservation. With 40 years practical experience in nature conservation with groups in Cardiff, Bristol, Southampton, Reading and Winchester, I appreciate the practical aspects of the work involved and love the countryside in the area I’ve grown up in. I have the skills, expertise, passion and commitment to aid and support the Trust achieve its vision, aims and objectives.

Sue Finn - Secretary

Sue has been interested in all aspects of the natural world since childhood. She spent her 38 year career teaching in primary, secondary, and special needs settings, developing children’s curiosity in their natural surroundings. This did not always go smoothly. Rescuing escaped snails from a classroom ceiling was an interesting challenge!  In 1989, Sue moved to work with the Educational Psychology Service which included running In-Service training for teachers. During the latter part of her career, she worked in nurseries and reception classes, researching the problems of poor language skills and implementing language enrichment programmes.

Since retiring, Sue has travelled around the world with husband, Roger. She remains an enthusiastic bird watcher and monitors a bird box round on the Wyeswood reserve. Sue also enjoys baking and provides cake for Trust committee meetings.

Chris Duncan

Chris’ background is in engineering with significant commercial expertise in running manufacturing businesses. He is currently also a trustee of the Small Woods Association and a school governor in Bristol.

Rebecca Spooner

Rebecca is based in Abergavenny and is Curator for South Wales with the National Trust. She has a professional background managing creative participation, community engagement and site-specific arts projects in rural Wales. Rebecca completed a Clore Fellowship, supported by Arts Council of Wales in 2018. 

Tom Clancy

Tom has a background in environmental impact assessment, having previously worked in consultancy. He is currently a regional environmental adviser for Highways England. He authors industry guidance and provides technical advice to project teams for environmental assessment and enhancements across the Highways estate. 

Dai Rees

Since leaving school at 17 Dai has always been involved in conservation/wildlife management in Wales, England and Scotland. Currently Dai works for Butterfly Conservation as their Head of Conservation in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Previously he worked for Forestry Commission Wales as Head Wildlife Ranger, Area Manager in the Wye Valley and more recently for NRW in their South West region as Land Management Team Leader, working with a team responsible for the day-day management of 32,000 hectares of forest & woodland habitats.

He maintains a keen interest in woodland and forest management, particularly raptors associated with these habitats and is now improving his knowledge of moths, butterflies and their habitats

Lucy Holland

Lucy is highly motivated and passionate about achieving positive outcomes for nature. Lucy is an Environmental Scientist, currently working on ecosystem assessment in England. Prior to this role, Lucy worked on international biodiversity and climate, focusing on the global Leaders’ Pledge for Nature. Lucy completed her MRes in Conservation Science and worked on creating adaptive habitat strategies for mammals living in a fragmented agricultural area, implemented and supported a community agroecology programme and developed a yearlong environmental education programme for use with children in Indonesia. Lucy has published her research, presented the findings at global conferences and it was also recently covered on the BBC Sounds podcast ‘People Fixing the World’. Lucy is currently working on a book chapter which promotes the benefits of nature for child development. 

Richard Howell

Richard is retired after a career of over 40 years in the the conservation and environmental sector. He is  a freshwater ecologist by training, graduating from UWIST, Cardiff. He joined the Welsh Water Authority and went on to become their first conservation officer, before moving to posts in the National Rivers Authority and Environment Agency, where he was responsible for regulatory strategy. He has extensive experience of environmental policy and advocacy, and has been involved with the Welsh Wildlife Trusts in both a professional and private capacity over many years. Richard is a Chartered Environmentalist, and a member of the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management’s Wales Policy Group. 

After leaving Cardiff, Richard has lived in West, South and North Wales, before settling in Mitchel Troy Common with his wife and family. Since retiring, he has enjoyed returning to the practical side of conservation, volunteering with GWT and working on several reserves.

Richard has always had a passionate interest in wildlife and conservation, though admits that he is now a bit rusty at identifying plants and invertebrates down to species level! He enjoys walking, Mountain biking and paragliding over the Gwent countryside (and beyond).