Board of Trustees
Sophie Churchill OBE is President of the RFS and was Chief Executive of The National Forest Company 2006 - 2014. She is the Founder of The Corpse Project, exploring better ways with the body after death. She also chairs TREE AID, which uses trees to help resilience to poverty and climate change in the drylands of Africa. Sophie was awarded an OBE in 2011 for services to the environment and is an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Foresters.
Chairman: Ian Dudley is Associate Director of environmental consultants Lockhart Garratt, advising on all aspects of woodland management and grant-assisted works. He is a keen advocate of community engagement and social forestry. He holds an Honours degree in forestry from Bangor University, is a Chartered Forester, Chartered Environmentalist and an Affiliate of the Landscape Institute.
Treasurer: Paul Whittle is a Chartered Accountant and a Trust and Estate Practitioner. Currently Senior Partner of his four- partner firm in Colchester he is about to semi-retire in order to devote himself to painting his boat combined with more gardening, golf and holidays. His interest in trees dates back to planting a small wood using the old Woodland Grant Scheme.
Immediate Past President: Sir Jack Whitaker (Bt, FCA, MIET) is a farmer with commercial forestry and woodland in Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire, Scotland and New Zealand; he is also an accountant and was previously Treasurer of the RFS. He was instrumental in setting up the RFS Teaching Trees Project which began in Yorkshire and is now expanding to new counties across the country.
Vice President: Andrew Woods has advised private woodland owners for more than 40 years. From assistant woodman on a Chilterns estate, he gained a degree in Forestry/Economics at the University College of North Wales Bangor and joined the partnership which became Abbey Forestry, retiring as Senior Partner in 2014. A career-long supporter of the RFS, he has held all the posts at Divisional level, and until recently was the Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
Craig Harrison is the London Manager for the Forestry Commission and previously oversaw the delivery of FC grants and regulations in England. Before joining the FC he worked in private forestry, arboriculture, agroforestry research and tropical forestry. He holds an Honours degree in Forestry from Edinburgh University and a Diploma in Management from Open University. As a chartered forester, he served on ICF Council and the Professional Standards Committee.
Rory Wardroper manages his own fundraising consultancy, based in Yorkshire. He has been a member of the RFS for more than 30 years, and, with his wife, has a considerable interest in forestry and woodland management. He has a particular interest in growing the membership of the RFS, particularly amongst younger people.
Dr Christine Cahalan has spent most of her career teaching forestry and carrying out forestry research at Bangor University, where she is now an honorary senior lecturer. She has been a member of various forestry trusts, advisory panels and steering groups in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Foresters.
James Hamilton Stubber is a chartered surveyor with over 30 years experience working in the UK property industry. He farms a family estate in Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland a large part of which is woodlands and commercial forestry and he is also involved in various aspects of the renewable energy industry. He is an active campaigner for the expansion and proper management of woodlands in Northern Ireland not only for enviromental reasons but more importantly in order to provide a local sustainable timber supply for the future so supporting rural employment and economic activity.
David Gwillam formed Prees Heath Forest Nurseries in 1979 to provide trees mainly for forestry, but also amenity and landscape. He had begun his career with Lancashire County Council and had also worked with Tilhill Nurseries, Midlands Nursery Group and Economic Forestry Group Maelor Nursery. Prees Heath Forest Nurseries has a long standing relationship with Harper Adams University and Reaseheath College. David has been a member of the RFS since 1986 and is an active member of the Confor Nursery Producers' Group.
Amy Jackson is a self-employed PR and communications consultant based near Witney in Oxfordshire. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) with almost 20 years’ experience in PR across a wide range of disciplines, but mainly in the land-based industries, primarily food, farming, agribusiness and industrial sectors. Amy’s experience is wide-ranging – holding senior roles in both an international top-5 PR agency and the UK’s leading agribusiness consultancy of its time, in-house as head of communications for the Milk Development Council (MDC), and running her own specialist PR business for the past eight years. She serves on the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) committee for the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and is the Scholar Representative to the Trustees of the Trehane Trust, which sponsors Nuffield Farming Scholars from the dairy sector each year. Amy will have Board level oversight of RFS PR and communications strategy.