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Sir George Russell CBE - Chairman

Sir George Russell CBE was educated at Durham University where he read politics and economics. His career then began with ICI in the UK and later Alcon Aluminium Ltd in Canada before he returned to the UK and built the aluminium smelter and power complex at Lynemouth.

As Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, he carried out the merger of Alcan Aluminium UK Ltd with British Aluminium PLC to form British Alcan Aluminium Ltd.

In 1986 he moved to Marley PLC as Chief Executive and was appointed Chairman three years later, retiring from the company in 1997.

He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Life Fellow of the Royal Television Society, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, a Companion of the British Institute of Management, a Fellow of the Institute of Directors and a Fellow of the Institute of Industrial Managers.

Awarded the CBE in 1985 and knighted in 1992, he has also received Honorary Doctorates at the University of Newcastle (for Engineering), at the University of Northumbria (for Business Administration), at the University of Sunderland (for Civil Laws) and at the University of Durham (for Civil Laws).

Sir George was a Director of WWT (2002 – 2008) and is currently a WWT Vice President (since 2008) as well as WWT Chairman.

Leslie D Jones OBE - Treasurer

Les started his career in local government, and then joined Thames Water where he was General Manager of Rivers Division. In this role he looked after all aspects of the Thames basin, including flood defence, navigation, pollution control, water resources, recreation and conservation.

In 1996 he was awarded the OBE for services to conservation and in the same year became Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Finance of the Worldwide Fund for Nature. He was acting Chief Executive for a year.

Les now works as a Charity Consultant and is a Trustee of several charities.

Dr Andy Brown

Andy began his career as a university lecturer in northern Nigeria. He then joined the Nature Conservancy Council, and later became the chief officer of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and subsequently the chief executive of English Nature. When Natural England was created Andy left and became self-employed.

He splits his time between being a board member of the Environment Agency, working overseas on environmental projects, assisting various NGOs and his research interest in freshwater Chironomidae (Diptera).

Andy has been the chair of the UK Biodiversity Information Group, Chair of the IUCN UK Committee, vice chair of the National Biodiversity Network Trust, member of the Rural Climate Change Forum and a member of the World Heritage Site Review Panel. He is a council member of RSPB, a trustee of CPRE, a council member and fellow of the Linnean Society and a fellow of the Institute of Biology.

Anna Carragher

Anna joined the BBC as a radio studio manager in 1970, before becoming a producer on the Today Programme and later the BBC’s radio news producer in North America.

She then moved into television documentary production and became part of the launch team of breakfast television. She went on to produce both Newsnight and Question Time.

There followed a return to radio, producing Any Questions and Any Answers, before Anna became Editor of European and Correspondent Programmes. She returned to her native Northern Ireland in the mid 1990s as Head of Programmes and was Controller, BBC Northern Ireland from 2001 until retirement in 2006.

Anna is a member of the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority, a Commissioner for the Northern Ireland Equality Commission and the Chair of the Grand Opera House Trust, Belfast.

Peter Day

Peter has a BSC (Hons) in Natural History. Most of his career has been spent in the IT industry, including five years as Chief Executive of Rolfe & Nolan Plc - a software development company serving the international futures and options industry. More recently he has been a director of a company producing software for financial regulatory authorities.

He has been an active volunteer tour guide at the London Wetland Centre since it opened in 2000 and gives courses to volunteers and the public on wetlands and their plant and animal life. He travels to societies and clubs in the south of England to give presentations about WWT’s conservation work.

He served as a governor of a large comprehensive school in Croydon for several years, is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists and a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London.

Sir Graham Fry

Graham worked in the British diplomatic service from 1972 until he retired in 2008. He speaks Japanese and spent a total of twelve years in Japan on three different postings, the last as ambassador. His other overseas postings were to France and Malaysia.

Watching birds has been his main recreation since 1973, and when in the UK, he has regularly visited the London Wetland Centre. In Japan he became involved with the Wild Bird Society of Japan (WBSJ) and with BirdLife Asia, and helped with the text of "A Field Guide to The Waterbirds of Asia" published by the WBSJ in 1993 and distributed to Asian conservationists.

He now works as an adviser to companies and a university lecturer, and is a member of the Governing Body of the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London.

Simon Tonge

Simon is currently the executive director of the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust and of South West Environmental Parks Ltd, a charitable organisation based in the south west of the UK, which owns Paignton and Newquay zoos, the Living Coasts exhibit in Torquay and three nature reserves in Devon.

He graduated in zoology from the University of Bristol in 1980 and his subsequent career included the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, where he was a herpetologist, and the Zoological Society of London.

His career also includes two years training as an accountant, which left him sadder but much wiser. He is currently chairman of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums, chairman of the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and sits on the board of two conservation charities in southern Africa.

Simon is a serious birder and interested in all aspects of natural history and conservation.

Alastair Driver (co-opted April 2010)

Alastair is a naturalist who graduated from Lancaster University with a BSc (Hons) in Ecology. He went on to become the first ever Conservation Officer for the Thames catchment in 1984 and by the time he departed that pioneering role in 2002, conservation staff had increased to 25+ , budgets were measured in millions and improvement projects had been instigated which led to the return of otter and salmon to the rivers.

Since October 2002 he has been National Conservation Policy Manager for the Environment Agency and was instrumental in securing a £60m programme of funding for wetland creation and restoration in England for the period 2008-11.

Alastair is the author of many articles and technical chapters on river and wetland conservation, and regularly contributes to TV and radio programmes on the subject. He co-produced the BBC Natural World documentary, “The Timeless Thames” and regularly speaks at and chairs international conferences. He is a Biodiversity Advisor for the Commonwealth Secretariat and had the honour to be appointed the first Ambassador for the International River Foundation in 2008.

A former first-class rugby player with London Irish, Alastair now manages the Reading Rhinos rugby team, plays league cricket and serves as Chairman of Sonning Cricket Club. He is also a Trustee of the Afan Woodland Trust in Japan, a Fellow of the Linnean Society, creates nature areas for schools and acts as voluntary warden for Ali’s Pond Local Nature Reserve which he established in 1997 in his home village.

Philip Duncan (co-opted May 2010)

Philip has been a bird-watcher since his childhood in Scotland, where he remembers meeting Peter Scott during a lecture tour in the 1950s. He qualified as a production engineer and spent most of his career in the oil industry, initially with Shell in Scotland.

As part of his 26 year career with the Burmah-Castrol Group, Philip has lived and travelled extensively overseas, including a spell as Chief Executive of Castrol in Hong Kong and Singapore.

In 1998 he retired from the oil industry, acquired and ran a fine art publishing company in Cornwall. He is involved with SSAFA Forces Help as divisional secretary in Swindon.

Barnaby Briggs

Barnaby Briggs joined Shell as a Corporate Planner, moving later into the Public Affairs section of the company.

He left Shell to join the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) as Energy and Transport Policy Officer, where he worked for six years on climate change, and other policy issues, including setting up global ecological networks on climate change and biodiversity. 

He then joined Environmental Resources Management (ERM) as a Consultant working on environmental and social issues. He rejoined Shell as the Chemicals Issues Manager ten years ago, and then ran the Social Performance Management Unit in the Corporate Affairs team. The Unit provided policy, best practice and guidance on managing social performance across Shell as well as hands on support for individual projects and assets. 

He is currently the Strategic Relations Manager for Shell, focusing on Nigeria issues, and helping Shell work in partnership with NGOs internationally and in Nigeria.

A long-time birdwatcher, Barnaby started ringing 1991, and now has an A permit.  He is a member of the Runnymede Ringing Group, a very active ringing group, and ringed at the Amsterdam Water Supply dunes while living in the Netherlands. He is still birdwatching whenever time allows.

Our Presidents


Her Majesty the Queen


His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales

Vice Presidents

Sir David Attenborough

John Berkeley, TD, JP, DL

Mark Carwardine

Sir Richard Gaskell LLD (Hon), LLM (Hon)

Sir Jack Hayward, OBE

Kate Humble

Hugh Mellor, CBE

Her Grace the Duchess of Norfolk

Chris Packham

Tony Pidgley

Sir George Russell CBE

Dr Dafila Scott

Keith Shackleton, RSMA, SWLA

Anthony Thomas

Professor Sir Robert Worcester KBE, DL