dave wood photo

Dave Wood

Chief Executive

ANT’s CEO Dave Wood wants to respond to the climate and nature emergencies by driving high impact, well-reasoned change in the world around us. Living in the countryside between Bristol and Bath, Dave is committed to change in our catchment to slow flooding, store more carbon, and create wild spaces close to where people live.

Dave has a background in local government, including being a unitary authority councillor for 17 years in Wiltshire and Somerset, and is currently Deputy Leader (Priorities & Delivery) of Bath & North East Somerset Council.   Highlights included setting the Council’s ‘plant 100,000 trees’ target and driving up recycling rates.  Dave was Lead Local Flood Authority chair and sat on the boards of the Wessex Regional Flood & Coastal Committee and the erstwhile Mendip Hills AONB.

Dave has also worked in campaign management, in local, regional and national campaigns, and in the charity sector including for Citizens Advice and for a local reuse and recycling project.

Dave immediately recognised the huge potential of Avon Needs Trees to drive change and has spearheaded our rapid growth of impact over the last three years.

mark funnell

Mark Funnell

Chair of Trustees

Mark is the Chair of Avon Needs Trees. He is the Communications and Campaigns Director at the National Trust, looking after external communications, internal communications, policy and advocacy and content and publishing.

He has specialised in environmental communications and campaigns for over 20 years. His previous roles include interim Director of Communications at Defra, Head of Communications at the Forestry Commission and Head of External Relations at the Environment Agency. He also led transformation to a new operating model for Defra group’s 250 Communications staff, who came together from five different arm’s length bodies.

Mark started out in editorial and publishing roles, working for five years at a consumer magazine publishing company. His specialist areas include environmental campaigns, corporate communications, operational and crisis communications, change management, staff engagement, stakeholder relations and public affairs.


Dr Nick Murry

Trustee - Sustainability consultant

Nick is one of ANT’s five Founding Trustees, now in his second term.

He is a sustainability and climate change professional with experience in both sustainability management and environmental consultancy.  Nick has worked in public and private sectors, in the UK and internationally, most recently advising organisations on their path to Net Zero. He is also an Associate Lecturer in Sustainability and Environmental Management at Bath Spa University.

Additionally, Nick is a Wiltshire Councillor and serves on Wiltshire Council’s ‘Environment Select Committee’ and its ‘Climate Emergency Task Group’. He also chairs ‘Zero Chippenham’, a voluntary organisation with the aim of achieving local carbon neutrality by 2030.

Gavin Spittlehouse

Trustee - Woodland owner

Gavin took some time out from his IT career in 2015 and planted 15 acres of native woodland a few miles from his home in central Bristol. Along with a wealth of practical woodland skills Gavin has professional experience of managing teams of volunteers. He also keeps bees and is interested in agroforestry.

Cathy Bedford

Cathy Bedford

Trustee - Trusts and Foundations Fundraiser

Cathy Bedford is a freelance researcher, writer and trusts and foundations fundraiser, with ten years’ experience of working in the charity sector and a past career in documentary film-making at the BBC. Cathy grew up on a farm in Devon where she developed a deep love for the countryside and an interest in trees, rivers, natural history and rewilding. Now based in Bristol, when not working she spends her time playing the piano and cello, walking, swimming and wild gardening.

“For me Avon Needs Trees offers a fantastic focus for my interest in and concern about the natural world – a chance to impact positively, in practical ways, on a local scale, on our threatened environment”

John Chew

Trustee - Primary School Teacher and Forest School Leader

John has been a primary school teacher for over twenty years. His favourite subjects have always been science and geography, seizing every opportunity he can to introduce children to the wonders of the natural world. He is also an accredited Forest School Educator.

More recently, he has become passionate about sharing knowledge and understanding of climate change with children of all ages.

“I have found children to be very concerned about the state of the planet; the animals, forests and ecosystems that are being destroyed and sometimes lost for ever. Let’s get them re-engaged nature and encourage them to learn about our precious natural world. They are our future and perhaps our greatest hope in sorting out the mess we’ve created.”

Andy Chester


Andy has a lifelong love of wild life and wild places which began on the heaths  and woods of Dorset and the New Forest. He has spent the last twenty years working at Natural England, creating opportunities for people to be in the English countryside. He cut his teeth on the roll out of open access rights – the so called ‘right to roam’ – and was a founding member of the team that is creating the England Coast Path. He brings experience of balancing and reconciling outdoor recreation with safety, nature conservation, farming and other land uses.

Stuart Hales

Trustee - Reserves Manager

Stuart Hales has been working in nature conservation for 25 years. After some years volunteering he worked in the charitable sector, managing nature reserves for The Avon Wildlife Trust. Since 2007 he has worked for Natural England as the Senior Reserve Manager for Wiltshire’s National Nature Reserves. He brings practical experience of managing woodlands for biodiversity and a passion for our native woodland habitats.

Theo Blanchard

Trustee - Treasurer

Theo studied Biology at Bristol University and is now a chartered accountant working for a tech company in Bristol. He is passionate about rewilding and the need to protect our natural heritage. Theo brings experience from the world of finance but when not working can be found exploring wild places and bouldering.


Lucy Garrett

Head of People and Operations

Lucy is a dynamic project manager and sustainability professional with almost a decade of experience in delivering high impact global and UK based climate and environment programmes.

Before joining Avon Needs Trees, Lucy worked for positive impact firm Palladium International, taking a leading role on fighting tropical deforestation as the Global Portfolio Manager for Partnerships For Forests, and restoring peatland and creating woodland in the UK’s National Parks through Revere. Lucy brings a broad set of skills including project management and operations, staff wellbeing and development, climate and forestry expertise, strategic communications, and monitoring and reporting.

Alongside her extensive corporate experience, Lucy has worked for several overseas environment charities and the public sector. Lucy is a dedicated environmentalist with an MSC in Climate Change and International Development, and more recently, has completed Shift Bristol’s Practical Sustainability Course to broaden her knowledge base to include practical skills in woodland creation and permaculture design. Lucy is delighted to bring her skills and experience to Avon Needs Trees to accelerate much needed woodland creation to help address the climate and biodiversity crises.

alister wynn photo

Alister Wynn

Woodland Creation and Maintenance Manager

Alister has an MSc in Forestry from Bangor University and has been working with the charity from it’s very first site Hazeland in 2019. He is involved with all aspects of woodland creation for ANT, from scoping out new land, planning and designing the woodland and getting his hands dirty when is comes to planting season. “I got involved with ANT as they are an inspiring organisation with a great mission. We need more trees, a lot more, which is why I think the work of ANT and others like them is vital for our collective future”.

Funded by DEFRA and our generous donors.

Tristan Scott

SLT Opportunity Strategist

Tristan helps to guide our CEO and Senior Leadership Team through emerging opportunities to increase ANT’s impact.  Their role involves horizon scanning for opportunities, masterminding projects at their formative stages, bringing creativity and attention to detail in equal measures.  Tristan also brings a deep understanding of equity and inclusion to their work and seeks to maximise ANT’s accessibility.
Tristan was instrumental in creating the Great Avon Wood concept and Landscape Recovery in the Lower Chew, amongst other projects, securing more than £3m investment in woodland and other habitat creation and planning.
As well as concern for climate and nature, Tristan is especially motivated by mitigating the impacts of flooding through natural flood management.
When not at work Tristan can often be found exploring woodlands with his guide dog or crafting.

Rachel Hamilton

Land Acquisition Co-ordinator

Before her role at Avon Needs Trees, Rachel worked in the homelessness sector as a caseworker and prior to that, with young people on various mentoring projects and residential programmes.

With the eye of making her personal passion for connecting with the natural world and responding to the climate crisis part of her work life, Rachel is currently studying for a part-time masters in Sustainability and Behaviour Change. She is excited to be working in the intersection of ‘people and planet’ at Avon Needs Trees and to continually explore what connection looks like between community and woodland.

When not working, Rachel can be found somewhere outdoors, perhaps hiking, camping, cycling or foraging.

Carys Holbeck

Communications Officer

Carys is a Political Theory MA graduate from the University of Sheffield, and is passionate about climate action and sustainability. During her time at university, she helped work on the ‘Wilder Future’ campaign with Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust which pushed for a stronger environment act to protect and boost biodiversity.

Most recently, she has worked for a Bristol housing charity in administration and marketing, and now brings her organisational and communications skills to ANT.

Funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and our generous donors

Amanda Birch


Before starting at ANT, Amanda spent seven years working for the Forestry Commission, in the Forestry Grants and Regulations department, managing woodland creation grants, and administering woodland improvement incentives, and tree felling licences. Amanda has also previously worked for Natural England, in a role focused on improving people’s access to nature along the south coast.

Amanda is extremely passionate about the work of ANT, and vital role of woodland creation in tackling the climate and nature emergency. She is excited to bring her passionate, knowledge and experience to the role of ANT’s administrator.

Beckie Johnson

Finance Manager

Beckie is passionate about supporting charities thrive by supporting the development and smooth running of robust financial management systems.

She has worked in travel, recruitment and the charity sector and spent several years teaching English and living in a fishing village in Sri Lanka.  Beckie has worked for several charities and companies.  She spent 7 years as Finance and Operations Manager for a charity providing free counselling to Adults and Children.

Beckie is very happy to bring her financial administration to support ANT’s vital work and their growth.

Joshua Hale BEM

Chew Valley Project Manager

Joshua is an award-winning Community Engagement specialist with almost two decades experience working with community groups and volunteers. Graduating from Swansea University with an MSc in Psychology and completed his graduate training in Charity Leadership and Management. Before ANT, Joshua has worked for multiple Universities, working as Head of Community Engagement for University of Bath, and leading on Bath Spa Social Impact Network.

He is an advocate for environmental sustainability and inclusion for under-served communities. Joshua is a director with Bath Unlimited focusing on developing young professionals, chairs the Avon and North Wiltshire branch of the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS), and is the volunteer lead for the RLSS UKs Equality, Diversity and Inclusion work.

When he isn’t working or volunteering, he loves to bake and try out new recipes he’s found on Instagram, community calisthenics and over the summer he can be found camping in a field at a variety of festivals.

Susan Barker

Great Avon Wood Conservation and Heritage Co-ordinator

Susan has twenty years experience in the land based sector with fifteen years experience of community engagement and volunteer support in a broad range of organisations including the Trust for Conservation Volunteers, Avon Wildlife Trust, Windmill Hill City Farm and the Royal Horticultural Society. 

She is passionate about protecting nature and enabling connection between people and their environment through sustainable land use. She sees her role at ANT as an opportunity to continue this approach at a time when the unprecedented challenges of climate change demand we pay attention to our relationship with the natural world.

Funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund

Debs Hoy

Great Avon Wood Volunteer & Skills Co-ordinator

Debs has been a volunteer tree planter for 20 years and is pleased to use this experience to help ensure ANT volunteers have a great time out in the field, gaining skills, confidence and increasing well-being.

Debs’ career to date has been focussed on raising awareness about the beauty and fragility of the natural world through public art and engagement. As a visual artist and creative producer she has designed and delivered public art works for Canal & River Trust, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, SouthBank Centre, and Westonbirt The National Arboretum to name a few.

Debs joined ANT to support local people to nurture their precious green space and feel the benefits that nature connection can bring into their lives.

Vicki Cracknell

Great Avon Wood Outreach Coordinator

Vicki worked as a primary school teacher for fifteen years and is passionate about creating outdoor learning and training opportunities for people of all ages. At the Soil Association, she set up the Farm Links Programme as part of the £17 million school meals initiative, Food for Life. A keen cyclist, Vicki founded Cycle Sunday, and worked with Sustrans to organise mass participation cycling events on Bristol’s Downs. When not planting trees, she teaches women in Easton to cycle.

“ANT has a powerful narrative to share about the vital role that woodland creation has in response to the climate emergency. It’s fundamentally practical but also deeply symbolic. I am excited to be enabling the people of Bristol to write the next chapter in ANT’s story.”

Tara Castle

Wiltshire Co-ordinator

Tara owns the small farm she grew up on next door to Hazeland, which includes some woodland. Until recently she was working as an Estate Manager for the National Trust, where she worked for a large part of her career. Tara brings a wide experience in land management issues. Her role with the Trust involved balancing the requirements of conservation and access, liaising with a wide range of stakeholders.

She is a wildlife enthusiast and relishes the opportunity to build her knowledge and experience whilst helping to improve the conservation value of land near to where she lives. Given the biodiversity and climate emergencies facing the world, she is keen to spend the rest of her career doing all she can to mitigate this. “I love where I live and I want to leave it in a better state for future generations.”

Tara has spent the past two years volunteering for Avon Needs Trees at Hazeland and Pudding Brook Wood, leading volunteer groups on tree planting and maintenance days. She has also acted as a trustee for Avon Needs Trees, and stepped down in order to take up this role.


Nick Self


Former ANT trustee – one of five founding trustees. Hazeland Site Guardian and Ecological Advisor

Chris Horwood

Volunteer Woodland Officer

Chris Horwood has had a career in international development and aid mainly in Africa and Asia, but is currently studying a Masters in Forestry at Bangor University as he navigates a switch into the woodland and forestry sector.

“Given the current environmental emergency I want to spend the rest of my working life involved in planting trees and improving our collective stewardship of trees.”

Peter Williams

Former ANT trustee – one of five founding trustees. Local musician and music teacher. Hazeland Site Guardian. Coordinator for North Wilts Friends of the Earth. Founder of the Chippenham Tree Mapping Project.

Tommaso Jucker

Volunteer Woodland Advisor

Tommaso is a NERC Research Fellow and Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol, where he leads a research group called Selva Lab. Prior to joining the University of Bristol he was a Research Scientist at CSIRO in Australia and obtained a PhD at the University of Cambridge. His research is broadly focused on understanding the processes that shape the structure, diversity and function of the world’s forests, in an effort to predict how these will respond to rapid environmental change and how this in turn will impact society. At Selva Lab, Tommaso and his group do this using everything from manipulative experiments, long-term field observations and cutting-edge remote sensing technologies.