Meet the Trustees and Senior Management Team

The Board of Trustees

Kate AshbrookKate Ashbrook

I was a trustee for 30 years (1982-2012), and have twice been Ramblers Chairman. I am General Secretary of the Open Spaces Society, Trustee of the Campaign for National Parks and Patron of the Walkers Are Welcome Towns Network. As President of the Ramblers, I want to champion our volunteers’ work and give a boost to our local campaigns.

Jonathan KiplingJonathan Kipling

I am a Chartered Accountant who has worked or volunteered for a range of charities - covering student community action, holidays for children in need, education and cancer research. I have been the Founding Secretary of the Charity Finance Group and was the Secretary of The Institute of Cancer Research for over 20 years.

Naseem Akhtar

Naseem Akhtar

I  am Project Manager for Saheli Women’s Group, which runs an innovative health and fitness facility for women and have worked with officers from the Ramblers Get walking Keeping Walking project in Birmingham. As a Ramblers Trustee I am looking to ensure we develop more activities and programmes to engage inner city communities to recognise the long term benefits of being active and enjoying green spaces.

Robert PeelRobert Peel
Hon. Treasurer

I have been involved with walking since I first joined my local Ramblers and HF groups in Yorkshire as a teenager. Alongside my career as a tax adviser, I have served on the Board of HF Holidays and as their Chairman and am now Area Secretary for Kent Ramblers. As a Ramblers Trustee I am keen to see improvement in the quality of information on which the Board takes its decisions, to focus clearly on footpath and access issues and to recruit more members.

Mike ChurchMike Church

I joined the Ramblers in 2000 and shortly after became Countryside Secretary for my local group North Kirklees. In 2004 I was elected Area Countryside Secretary for West Riding Ramblers, for which I am now also Area Chairman. Alongside my work in finance for a multinational home shopping group, I also organise Ramblers promotional stands at agricultural shows in North and West Yorkshire and am a Trustee of CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) West Yorkshire Branch.

Des GarrahanDes Garrahan

Most of what I know of Britain I learnt through my feet – its heritage and culture, its dynamic urbanscapes and majestic countryside. I need little reminding that I can walk the many miles of this country’s footpaths and roam across acres of land in no small part because of the hard-won successes by the Ramblers. I don’t really have a favourite walk – to me one of the great joys of walking is discovering new places. To find out more about me read my walking class hero blog or follow me on Twitter @walkngclasshero.

James LawsonJames Lawson

I joined the Ramblers in 1995, the year the charity celebrated its 60th anniversary. In addition to being a Trustee I am the Vice Convener for Ramblers Scotland and Area Footpath and Countryside Co-ordinator for North Strathclyde Ramblers. I also lead walks for Strathkelvin Ramblers, my local Group, and am actively involved in the preparation of Walking Hubs for the Ramblers Scotland Medal Routes project. I am also very interested in environmental issues, especially wild land and its wildlife.

Gwyn LewisGwyn Lewis
Chairman – Ramblers Cymru

Since joining the Ramblers nine years ago I’ve been active at a local, Area and national level. I am currently Cardiff Ramblers Footpath Officer and Rambles Officer, Glamorgan Area Footpath Secretary and Membership Secretary and Chair of the Welsh Council Executive Committee (WCEC). The above plus walking and walk leading with Cardiff Ramblers keeps me busy and (mostly) out of mischief!

Alex ManningsAlex Mannings

The Ramblers is vital to the protection of walking and I am proud to help them as a trustee. In a professional capacity I have worked in the public and private sectors in finance. In a volunteer capacity I have been Chair of the Metropolitan Walkers and am currently Chair of the Inner London Area and the London Strollers. With walking still the most popular hobby in the UK, I want to ensure that the Ramblers is the organisation that all walkers want to join. You can follow what I am doing with the Ramblers on Twitter @LondonRamblers.

Richard MayRichard May

I have been a member of the Ramblers for about nine years. After attending my first General Council in 2006 I was inspired to create Norfolk’s 20s and 30s walking group which now has an active programme of walks and a lively social programme. When not walking, I run a small IT consultancy. This has taught me just how critical the efficient use of IT is, to any business or organisation. I also spend some of my time engaged in web and application development, which I believe is further useful experience to bring with me.

Christine O’ByrneChristine O’Byrne

I lead on policy and research work for Chwarae Teg (Fair Play), which focuses on the representation of women in the workplace in Wales. I am an experienced lobbyist and have built strong relationships with many key decision makers in Wales. I have a personal interest in sustainable transport. Until recently, I was a Trustee and Director for the Women’s Equality Network (WEN) Wales. I have used my experience to support local Ramblers groups since I joined in 2012 and am Publicity Officer for the Tiger Bay Ramblers. I have used social media to increase the group’s presence online and engage with Welsh politicians and other prominent figures.

Paul RhodesPaul Rhodes

Shortly after joining my local group (Chilterns 20-30s Walking) I led my first walk and within the year joined the committee and have served as Chair for four years. I am passionate about spreading the wider work of the Ramblers via our led walks. My experience of the organisation includes attending General Council since 2010, being a member of the volunteer sounding board for the Ramblers website and serving as Chair of my area for the last two years. I have a degree in Business Information Systems and have worked for large IT, business process, consultancy and outsourcing companies. I believe almost all projects and changes will include an ICT impact in the future.

Andy RogersAndy Rogers

I am a Chartered Management Accountant and have an MBA from Warwick University, which focused on a critical evaluation of Customer Relationship Management (CRM). I am actively involved with the Ramblers in Nottinghamshire, where I am Group Chairman and founding member of the Notts Derby & Staffordshire 40’s Walking Group, One Step Walkers. I was previously a 20s and 30s group member, spending a year as Secretary and two years as Chairman of the Notts & Derby Group.

David ThomsonDavid Thomson
Convener – Ramblers Scotland

I have enjoyed walking in Scotland’s countryside, hills and mountains all my life. I joined the Ramblers twelve years ago when I took semi-retirement from my hotel business and am still climbing mountains in the company of members of the Dalgety Bay & District Ramblers. I served as Group Secretary for a number of years and until January 2011 was Convener of the Forth Valley, Fife and Tayside Ramblers. I have just completed two years as Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees and as Convener of Ramblers Scotland. I continue to represent the Scottish Council Executive Committee on the Board.

Richard TruemanRichard Trueman

I joined the Ramblers in 2005 and became Membership Secretary of my local group based in Cardiff, Tiger Bay Ramblers, for four years from 2007 and then acted as its Chair in 2011-12. I believe my experience in seeking to attract, welcome and retain new members and my experience of supporting and encouraging existing members to volunteer and become involved in the activities of the Ramblers would make a useful contribution to the organisation, and to the work of the Board of Trustees.

Moira FraserMoira Fraser

I grew up with a love of Scotland's wild places and have been a Ramblers member for five years and am now chair of Capital Walkers, a vibrant and growing local Ramblers group in London. I'm also Director of Policy for a national carers charity and have over ten years' experience in the voluntary sector, including experience in campaigning and influencing at the highest levels as well as communications and fundraising. As a trustee, I hope to bring these two passions together and use my experience to help the Ramblers grow and achieve the most impact we can.

The Senior Management Team

Benedict SouthworthBenedict Southworth
Chief Executive

Benedict was appointed Chief Executive of the Ramblers in December 2011. He was previously Director of the World Development Movement and has held senior management positions in Amnesty International and Greenpeace International. Benedict has more than 20 years’ experience in the charity sector, and has worked as a consultant on strategic programmes with high profile charities including ActionAid, Friends of the Earth, and UNICEF UK. Benedict was raised in Lancashire but now lives on the Surrey-Kent border. His favourite walks are on the High Weald and the Ribble Valley.

Simon BarnettSimon Barnett
Director of Delivery & Development

Simon joined the Ramblers in 2008 and the senior management team in 2010. He oversees the Ramblers work to promote walking, which includes support for Ramblers volunteers and Walking for Health in England. Before joining the Ramblers in 2008, Simon worked for Living Streets and prior to that was a local co-ordinator for Walking for Health. Favourite places to walk include Dartmoor near where he was raised, the Chilterns where he now calls home, and the Lake District where he also fell races. Having never owned a car, Simon also makes a habit of walking short trips whenever possible.

Christine GrantChristine Grant
Director of Services

Christine joined the Ramblers in August 2013. Following training as a Chartered Accountant, she has worked in finance and operational roles for almost 30 years. Her sector experience has been achieved within the accountancy profession, membership organisations, property, and education. Prior to joining Ramblers, she has worked at senior level in a number of trade unions, most recently at the Public and Commercial Services Union.

Nicky PhilpottNicky Philpott
Director of Advocacy & Engagement

Nicky joined the Ramblers in September 2011. For the previous 12 years she worked at the NSPCC leading the campaigns team. She has also held campaign and policy positions at Age Concern, RNID, Scope and Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE). Nicky is committed to working with staff and volunteers to develop campaigns which preserve and increase access for walking. Nicky grew up in Somerset and her favourite walks are in the South West as near to water as possible as she likes to incorporate walking with a swim when she can.

Angela Charlton

Angela Charlton
Director Wales

Angela joined Ramblers Cymru in 2008, coming from her previous role as Chief Officer with a Council for Voluntary Services. She has over 20 years experience in the voluntary sector, working across Wales, Shropshire and Gloucestershire. She has experience in community engagement in both the rural and urban environment context. Her previous roles cover environmental education, fundraising, project development and management, countryside management and walk leading. Angela is from South Wales and has a real passion to see the people of Wales have every opportunity to flourish in a sustainable way whilst meeting the needs of the people and the environment.

Will Renwick

Meet our volunteers

We have beautiful countryside in Wales that is incredible for walking, so I've been out and about with the Ramblers, talking to local groups and trying to encourage them to get walking and out enjoying our landscape as much as they can.

Will Renwick
Champion for Young Walkers

Cotswold Outdoor