Meet Our Team

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

Staff Team

Community Engagement Manager
Simon Watts

Read bio

Simon is our Community Engagement Manager. Simon leads the Developing the Natural Aire project after a career working for environmental organisations ranging from Groundwork to The Royal Forestry Society. As an ex-teacher, he has a particular interest in our school visits. Simon enjoys sharing his love of the natural world and traditional crafts with others. 

"There are so many fascinating stories of our river’s history and wildlife to share. DNAire is a fantastic opportunity to get more people involved with our river. It's a fantastic green and blue space running through our communities that can enrich so many people’s lives."
Catchment Officer

Billy Coburn

Read bio

Billy Coburn joined us having previously worked for Thames21, London’s Rivers Trust. His environmental interests include connecting communities to their local waterways, Natural Flood Management, and Surface Runoff.

Billy’s role as Catchment Officer includes, actively building and supporting current membership to the Aire Catchment Network, constructing a detailed catchment plan of projects from known strategic priorities, developing and seeking funding for projects, and project managing those projects to conclusion.

"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."
Community Engagement Officer
Nick Milsom

Read bio

Nick is our Community Engagement Officer. Nick leads our river stewardship programme and could be said to be happiest when he has wet feet. Nick has extensive practical conservation experience and enjoys activities like hedge laying and tree planting. 

"I believe we are at a watershed moment for the environment. We all have a role to help protect and conserve the environment. I hope bringing new people to enjoy our river will help them understand how special it is."

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

Read bio

Sam works for the Trust as a Project Officer on both our DNAire and Green Connections projects. Through these, he is creating pocket parks alongside the river and improving places for both people and wildlife.

He previously taught countryside management. Being brought up on an upland smallholding in South Craven, he has a strong connection to the river and communities of the upper Aire. His passion is creating a landscape that delivers for water, sustainable food production, recreation opportunities and ecosystems.
Geoff Maskell photo headshot
Citizen Science Project Officer
Geoff Maskell

Read bio

Geoff is our Citizen Science Officer and has over 25 years’ experience in managing volunteers, both professionally and as a volunteer himself.

He will be working with volunteers to help understand the River Aire and its tributaries. Through regular monitoring of both river invertebrates and water quality, he is helping us to better understand the rivers ecosystem and identify what can and needs to be done to improve it.
A keen folk musician and fly fisherman, Geoff can regularly be found thigh deep in water and is happiest when involved in or promoting countryside management and conservation.
Project Administrator
Sharon Redmond

Read bio

Sharon is our Project Administrator. She won't admit it but she's possibly the most important member of the team. 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. My ambition is to catch sight of an otter on the river."
Photo of Ryan Harrison
River Stewardship Assistant
Ryan Harrison

Read bio

Ryan joined us at the Aire Rivers Trust on a Countryside Worker apprenticeship for what we hope will the start of a varied and interesting career. He has added boundless enthusiasm to the team and is always willing to try something new. Ryan loves working alongside the volunteers and seems to always have a huge smile on his face.
Heather Downer standing with litter picker
Community Engagement Assistant
Heather Downer

Read bio

Heather joins the Trust on a placement year from the University of Leeds. She has been studying Zoology there and is a keen member of their conservation society. She's looking forward to getting her hands dirty and learning a range of practical skills alongside our volunteers.
Pollution Hunter

Robert Hellawell

Read bio

Robert's passion for Bradford Beck is hard to match. When he is not fishing he loves walking along it and his keen eye is often one of the first to spot pollution. A former volunteer, Robert is now working on our Pollution Hunter project with Friends of Bradford's Becks identifying pollution in tributories to the River Aire.


Geoff Roberts mugshot
Chair of Trustees
Geoff Roberts

Read bio

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

Read bio

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

Read bio

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

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.”
Kevin Sunderland

Read bio

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

Read bio

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.

Jane Rogers

Read bio

Jane is a former lecturer from Craven College and one of our newer Trustees. Jane is enthusiastic about sharing her love for the Aire with others and been invaluable in thinking up new ways to bring people to the river.
Jill Campbell

Read bio

Jill has had a career working across the solid waste management industry in pollution control, R&D and delivery of new infrastructure and recycling services.

A few years ago, she switched her focus to ecological activities and now, within the Aire Rivers Trust, is contributing to improving habitats throughout the catchment.
David Brazendale

Read bio

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 Penny

Read bio

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."

Finally, meet Rachel

She does not work for us, but she spends so much time working with us, that we felt she deserved a mention.
Rachel Kipling

Read bio

Rachel studied Environment Management at Lancaster University, and has a love of nature and wild places, stemming from a childhood in the Dales and family in conservation management.

Living and working in the catchment since 2003, she has worked in pollution prevention and waste regulation for the Environment Agency, seen a shift in focus towards engagement and investment, and a valuing of the Leeds Waterfront through management of the Aire Action Leeds project, in addition to supporting MP and Defra communications for the EA following the floods in 2015 and 2020.

As Catchment Coordinator at the Environment Agency, Rachel helps to administer and support the Aire Catchment Network with Aire Rivers Trust, and drives connections and offers support to the range of partner organisations in the catchment. Linking people together to develop multi-benefit projects, and enabling successful partnership working to get the best for our rivers, becks and surrounding environment.

© 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
Top linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram