Meet Our Team

Find out who makes things happen at the Aire Rivers Trust. Click below the photos for pop out captions.

Staff Team

Operations Manager
Simon Watts

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Simon is our Operations Manager. He is responsible for the smooth running of the Trust and leads many of our projects, our fund raising and Trust development. Simon has extensive experience of working for environmental organisations from Groundwork to The Royal Forestry Society.

"Our river is fantastic green and blue space running through our communities that can enrich so many people’s lives. Together we can realise its full potential to bring nature into the hearts of our cities and communities"
Catchment Manager
Billy Coburn

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Billy’s works to build and support the Aire Catchment Network (a group of organisations interested in improving the River Aire) by championing strategic priorities, building partnerships, and developing and seeking funding for projects

"I am overjoyed to be part of the Aire Rivers Trust and Aire Catchment Network, listening and appreciating all the challenges around the catchment, working with the network to improve our local waterways."
Senior Project Officer
Nick Milsom

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Nick manages our practical conservation programme and river restoration contractors. He has extensive experience designing and delivering woodland and natural flood management schemes. 

"I believe we are at a watershed moment for the environment. We all have a role to play in protecting and conserving the environment. I am keen to work with landowners to find profitable ways to support their farm businesses to care for our river."

Photo of Sam Riley-Gunn
Project Officer
Sam Riley-Gunn

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Sam leads our citizen science volunteer programme and works on a variety of river restoration projects including along the River Worth. Being brought up on an upland small holding in South Craven, he has a strong connection to the river and communities of the upper Aire.

"Rivers have a key part in creating a landscape that delivers sustainable food production, recreation opportunities and ecosystem services like flood risk reduction. It's exciting to be part of that journey."
Project Officer
Gareth Muir

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Gareth is our Practical Conservation Project Officer delivering a variety of Environmental works along the catchment. Gareth has a wide range of skills including, hedge laying, coppicing and drystone walling.

"Working with the Trust to improve the River Aire will be a fantastic opportunity to use and improve my skills, knowledge and experience. I look forward to supporting volunteers to improve their local river for the benefit of all!"
Project Assistant
Olivia Holmes

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Olivia joins us as part of a National Lottery funded Groundwork's New to Nature internship, and will support the delivery of our practical conservation volunteering. Olivia is keen to learn new skills and help others enjoy their time volunteering with us.

"Rivers and riverside environments are essential features of any landscape, for wildlife and for people. I hope to support and work alongside volunteers to conserve and enhance the Aire and it's tributaries so that these natural assets can be enjoyed by communities and provide for wildlife for years to come".
Project Assistant
Ellie Spilsbury

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Ellie works for the Trust supporting a variety of projects with her GIS expertise. Her main focus is on understanding the opportunities for improving fish passage across the whole River Aire catchment by tackling weirs, or obstructions, in the river.
Project Administrator
Sharon Redmond

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Sharon is our Project Administrator. Sharon is always happy to help and is the person to talk to for volunteer expenses or booking on training courses.

"I am always happy to help, so please do not hesitate to get in touch. I love my job and it's great to be part of an organisation that helps the environment."


Chair of Trustees
Geoff Roberts

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Geoff is our Chair of Trustees. Geoff has spent almost the whole of his career, and ‘retirement’, working to improve the environment. Starting as a Pollution Prevention Officer on the River Aire, he worked for Yorkshire Water for 26 years. After he left, he couldn't stay away from the river and became a trustee in 2013.

Geoff is a passionate ‘connector’, bringing people together from across the Aire catchment and Yorkshire. He leads for the Trust on The Aire Catchment Network and is an Independent Member of the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee. He currently chairs the ‘Yorkshire Hub’, which brings together Catchment Hosts and Rivers Trusts from around Yorkshire.

Treasurer and Secretary
Jerry Whaley

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Jerry is our Treasurer and Secretary. He was one of the founding members of the Trust in 2011. Jerry is an accountant who has worked primarily in/with Local Authorities, in the social housing sector with Housing Associations and as a consultant.

He is currently Chair of Mind the Gap – a theatre company for people with a learning disability.
Wendy Robinson

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Wendy is a founder trustee of The Aire Rivers Trust and a former Chair of Bradford and Bingley Canoe Club. She is our Safeguarding lead.

She began canoeing on the Aire in 1974 and remembers signs along the river warning people of dangerously polluted water.

“The quality of our local water courses is a signal of how we value and care for our environment and the improving quality of the Aire is a success story to be proud of.
Recreational use of the river enables local people to value it and engage with its care. This means reducing pollution, managing the spread of invasive non-native species and restoring the river towards a natural state. In the past the Aire has been exploited at great cost to plant and animal life. Restoration of the river and its catchment is a win-win for people and nature.”
Trustee Kevin Sunderland
Kevin Sunderland

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One of our founding members and the Trust's Chairman for the first four years of its existence, Kevin is a keen advocate for the river. There are few people connected with it who haven't met Kevin. His passion and persistence over many years has been instrumental in transforming the river.

Following the major improvements to water quality, Kevin has continually highlighted the possibilities for the return of migratory fish to the Aire and has successfully prepared the way for this to happen.
Barney Lerner

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Barney has been a Trustee since the start of ART (2011). He brings his research experience in his role as Emeritus Professor of Environmental Engineering at the University of Sheffield. A major theme of his research is about groundwater and contaminated land; more recently he has been working on a range of projects on urban rivers and their pollution. These have included: the risks of pollution from industrial estates, the effects of misconnections in sewer systems on river ecology, and the barriers to salmon passage on the river Don.

With his student Dave Chandler, he developed a cheap and effective way to monitor for misconnected drainage which was widely publicised, for example in the Guardian and on Buzzfeed, and is now being used in the beck.

Barney leads the Friends of Bradford’s Becks work. As well as regular litter picks in the spring when the vegetation is still short, there is an invasive species group. The group is currently working on renaturalising sections of the beck.

Mark Penny

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Mark has been a Trustee since the start of ART in 2011. He brings to the trust a background in water and environmental management, almost 40 years experience in the water industry, over 30 of those at Yorkshire Water where he was an Operational Director in both water and wastewater business areas. For 6 years (2012-2018) Mark was also the Chair of the North East Waterways Partnership of the Canal and River Trust and a shadow board member involved in establishing the Yorkshire West Local Nature Partnership.

Originally from Leeds, then Keighley now in Skipton, the River Aire and its tributaries have been a constant part of his life, be that occasional pleasure fishing, walking and spending time with nature, environmental improvement or getting involved with litter picks.

"I am proud to be associated with the Aire Rivers Trust and look forward to the day, in the not too distant future, when salmon can be seen once again around Skipton."
Alex Fraser standing in a field
Alex Fraser

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Alex is passionate about solving problems using nature based solutions that promote inclusiveness and access to nature.
David Brazendale

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David is a long standing Trustee with the Trust. As a local resident and member of Friends of Robert's Park he is keen to see the river on his doorstep thrive.
Mark Davis

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Mark brings a background in facilities management with almost 30 years’ experience of managing large complex projects. Passionate about nature and the environment, in particular rivers and oceans where he has done over 500 dives with iconic marine species and volunteer on beach cleans around the UK coastline. Mark lives by Harden Beck and also has an allotment on the intersection of Harden Beck and the River Aire and so has a vested interest in wanting to protect and preserve this vital life support system.
"It is vital that we preserve these life support systems and I am proud to be part of the Aire Rivers Trust and being able to have a direct and influencing impact on improving the river Aire, helping its wildlife flourish and reconnecting people back with their river."

© Copyright Aire Rivers Trust 2020
The Aire Rivers Trust is a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales No: 07464227 and a Registered Charity No: 1145609
Registered Office at: 38 Morton Lane, East Morton, Keighley BD20 5RS
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