Kate Ashbrook, chair
I am a campaigner who believes fervently that the Ramblers must publicise its excellent work and celebrate the achievements of its volunteers, while explaining to the public the battles we still face to enable everyone to enjoy walking. Previously a trustee for 30 years (1982-2012), twice chair, president for four years and now vice-president and chair of the board of trustees of the Ramblers. Locally I am the footpath secretary for Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and West Middlesex Area. 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. Read my blog at https://campaignerkate.wordpress.com/. Follow me on twitter @CampaignerKate
Michael Penny, honorary treasurer
Throughout my life I have enjoyed the outdoors and walking and climbing in the beautiful countryside in the UK. In a long and varied career I have lived in places where I have been able to continue my walking, initially as a family with our children and more recently with my wife and friends.
During my career I have worked for a variety of companies including Whitbread Time Warner and Wickes where providing good customer service is critical. Most recently I worked for Pinnacle Group who manage social housing in London and other areas. All of these involved multi-sites where I have ensured that the governance and financial controls have been appropriate to safeguard the company and empower local management to act to meet the local needs of the people they deal with. My experience has covered all aspects of finance including strategic review, improving and maintaining strong financial controls, treasury management and providing guidance and advice to the board and other management.
Dr Peter Rookes, vice chair
I have been an enthusiastic rambler, all of my life, including Scout hikes and rural health patrols during my eight years working in Papua New Guinea. I have been a member of my local Ramblers group since September 1995, regularly leading walks, participating in weekends away, overseas rambling weeks and social events. My life has been greatly enriched by the friendship of fellow ramblers. This was particularly important during the two and a half years my late wife, Jean, battled with cancer. Without doubt, she was strengthened by the physical, mental and emotional benefits of walking.
It is recognised that social isolation, particularly amongst older people, is a major health risk leading to loss of self-esteem and personal confidence resulting in physical and mental ill-health. Because of my professional health background I have a passion for encouraging people to gain the health benefits from rambling, and welcome the opportunity to have a closer involvement in the Walking for Health programme, both as a preventive and as a rehabilitative initiative, broadening its appeal to a wider range of participants.
Chris Hodgson, chair Ramblers Cymru
I walk in all parts of the United Kingdom and try and cover more than 1,000 miles every year. I've developed a great interest in the condition of our paths, and in their improvement, and in encouraging other people to experience the joy of walking. I like leading adventurous walks along with grade 1 and 2 scrambles and like to see others feeling a sense of achievement. I am currently chair of the Welsh Council Executive Committee as well as chair and membership secretary of Ceredigion area. I feel there is still much to do and I believe the Ramblers can further enhance itself as an organisation working for walkers.
Jay Wilson, Ramblers Scotland appointee
I've been a member of the Ramblers since soon after moving to the UK in 2010 from my native Virginia, and a member of Ramblers Scotland since moving to the Highlands in 2016. I've gotten to know the team at Ramblers Scotland as part of my work on the John o' Groats Trail, and I look forward to working more closely with the team as a member of SCEC. I hope my experiences in rural trail development will be helpful to the Ramblers. Besides rambling both in Scotland and abroad, I also enjoy reading classic novels, watching films, and travelling.
I enjoy exploring Britain and the world through walking. I want to help people have the chance to discover Britain in the same way. My introduction to the wide variety of Ramblers work came through taking an active part in group and area activities having chaired group and area committees. I am passionate about increasing awareness of the Ramblers wide range of work in innovative ways and via our group walks. With a degree in business information systems, I have worked in business and technology service consultancies to deliver solutions, services and manage change to enable well-known companies provide their products and services. I hope to combine my love of walking with my business and technology expertise in my role as a trustee.
I keep myself busy with the Ramblers by embracing my new role as Norfolk Area Chair. During my first year, our membership numbers have increased, I’ve made the area meetings more group-centric, engaged the area with Don't Lose Your Way, we’ve started a new group offering longer walks and our path maintenance team has achieved a lot. I believe that anyone in a leadership position should always give out as much positivity as possible, and this has been my successful strategy in Norfolk.
I’m passionate about walking – enjoying both long country walks and walking as a way of getting from A-B in town. I first joined the Ramblers about eleven years ago. I met my husband on a Ramblers walk and we walk together both independently and with Ramblers groups across our local area. I find walking a great escape from my day job and a contrast to spending time at the desk. I really appreciate the role of the Ramblers in campaigning to ensure pathways and access are protected and to ensure the needs of the pedestrian are not overlooked.
I became passionate about walking and the benefits of accessing the countryside for health and recreation after I joined the Ramblers just over three years ago. I have helped the Ramblers deliver its mission and achieve its charitable objectives since April 2014 as a volunteer at Group and Area level. This has given me the opportunity to better understand the Ramblers, and experience first-hand its successes and frustrations. I am keen to ensure that we continue to provide real value to our members and the public, securing the Ramblers as the go-to charity for rights of way, access and walking.
Since 1935 the Ramblers has been actively campaigning to protect walkers’ rights. This role is just as important today with increasing pressures on green spaces, pathways and access as well as the environment in general. I have worked in marketing, membership and communication roles for over 20 years in a variety of companies from Coca-Cola and Orange to Saga and the AA across a range of countries and cultures. I am a keen traveller and walker and the more I walk abroad, the more I appreciate the access and beautiful countryside we have here at home. As a new trustee, I look forward to using my skills and energy in supporting the Ramblers in continuing this vital work.
I’ve always been a walker, but it’s only since retiring to Argyll a few years ago and joining Lochaber and Lorn Ramblers that I’ve been able to gain my rambling spurs in some of the most glorious scenery in the country. I’ve served as Treasurer of our local group and am now Chair.
I worked internationally for BP mainly in retail strategy and operations and have a Masters degree in organisational change, and I hope to bring something of my experience to the Ramblers.
I want to see the Ramblers known to offer the health and social benefits of walking to every community in the U.K. I feel fortunate to live in Scotland where access to walking is generally good, but there remains work to be done there, as there does on rights of access in the rest of the country.
I joined Ramblers many years ago to support their aims and past achievements. In 2001 Central Office helped me to claim an obstructed footpath near my home, and shortly afterwards I volunteered to be Area Footpath Secretary for East Sussex. It was a rewarding job: campaigning for better paths, liaising with interested parties from farmers to councillors, attending public inquiries and administering to over 50 Local Footpath Secretaries. At the same time I continued to work as a plumber, and still found time for walking and being an active member of the Vintage Motorcycling Club.
During my term as AFPS the number of Local Footpath Secretaries in East Sussex increased from 27 to over 50. I helped organise training days for them, and some were adopted as path wardens by ESCC to help resolve path problems. I also provided on-site practical experience for Central Office staff members who were learning footpath work. I served on the Rights of Way Sounding Board at Central Office for two years, and in 2011 and 2014 presented motions to General Council relating to Ramblers’ diminishing resources for footpath work. Both motions were carried with strong support, and a primary motivation for my joining the Board is to continue supporting those efforts.
I spent the majority of my working life running the magistrates’ courts in East Yorkshire and supporting the area’s lay magistracy. The role also involved partnership working with other criminal justice agencies and so, in addition to being a solicitor, I acquired a M.A . in the management of the criminal justice system.
For the last few years of my career, in addition, I was a non-executive director of the ILEX Professional Standards Board which was one of three boards established by legislation to regulate the legal profession.
I have been a Ramblers’ member for almost 10 years and I have found it to be a very worthwhile organisation both in respect of the walks and social aspect available to members and also in its campaigning role safeguarding access to walking routes in both rural and urban areas. I look forward to being a trustee and to the opportunity to make a significant contribution to the Ramblers’ success story.
I have been an enthusiastic walker all my life and spend many happy hours hiking across the UK and abroad. I love the planning and the anticipation of doing a challenging walk in a beautiful part of the countryside. My vision is that the walking life of independent walkers is significantly improved by accessing services provided by the Ramblers. Developing new ways to meet the needs of individual walkers would considerably broaden the appeal and impact of the Ramblers.
My career has been spent as a Human Resources consultant and executive coach, facilitating organisations to improve their ways of working. I have advised a range of charities on how to develop their strategic priorities and modernise their organisational structures, leading to improvements in professionality and impact.
I have been a trustee of a number of charities and have created a practical toolkit to help trustee boards improve their effectiveness at governance. I am skilled at helping organisations define their values and make these come alive.
Vanessa Griffiths, chief executive
Before joining the Ramblers, Vanessa was Assistant Director, National Trust Wales. The Trust is Europe’s largest conservation charity, supported by over 5 million members and caring for special places, for ever, for everyone. Before joining the National Trust, she was a Director at Groundwork, a charity working locally and nationally to transform lives in the UK’s most disadvantaged communities. She has previously been a senior civil servant and has also held leadership positions at the BBC, Mars UK and Business in the Community, the responsible business charity. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, business leader of the Marketing Society and trustee of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and of Mostyn, the foremost contemporary art gallery in Wales. She is married with two teenagers and is a dedicated walker.
Rachael Bayley, director of Operations & Volunteering
Rachael joined the Ramblers in April 2018. Rachael is passionate about volunteering and involving volunteers to achieve more together. Prior to Ramblers Rachael developed volunteering programmes and supported leadership volunteers to involve many thousands of volunteers. As Director of Volunteer Engagement at The Children’s Society and at Save the Children Rachael created new ways for volunteers and staff to work together.
Rachael is a specialist in volunteering leadership/management, communications and engagement, and is experienced in developing organisations to be fantastic at volunteer involvement. Previously she was the lead for volunteering at The Alzheimer’s Society, Samaritans, Volunteering Matters and Beanstalk. She is also a Director of the Association of Volunteer Managers, the professional body for those who manage volunteers. Rachael loves walking by the sea and is enthusiastic about making sure that walking in nature is something that is open to all.
Beatrice St Matthew-Daniel, director of services
Beatrice joined the Ramblers in February 2018. She is a certified management accountant responsible for the finance, HR and Facilities and ICT departments for the organisation. She has worked across the private and NFP/Charities sector and has over 25 years’ worth of knowledge and experience of private and NFP organisations. Beatrice loves all forms of exercise, including walking if there is a good pub at the end of the walk. Her two main passions are Liverpool FC and anything Elvis!
Brendan Paddy, Ramblers Scotland director
Brendan has previously worked with the Ramblers, first as interim director in Scotland during 2017 and more recently as a consultant on major GB-wide programmes. Previously, he was director of communications for the Disasters Emergency Committee. Originally from New Zealand, Brendan has vast experience with high-profile organisations, including roles at Amnesty International, Save the Children and the Environment Agency.
Sarah Marfleet, director of membership & fundraising
Sarah joined the Ramblers in September 2017 to lead a dedicated new membership and fundraising team to help the Ramblers grow our incredible community of members and supporters. Prior to joining the Ramblers, Sarah developed membership schemes to increase supporter engagement, loyalty and income for two of the UK’s most-loved charities: the Royal Horticultural Society and Natural History Museum.
Sarah loves exploring the great outdoors, from weekend runs around her local country park in West Kent, to thigh-burning ascents of the UK’s finest summits. Her most memorable walk was an 11-day trek through the Nepalese Himalayas to the breath-taking panorama of the Annapurna Sanctuary. She’s passionate about connecting more of the UK’s 9 million walkers to help everyone everywhere enjoy walking and securing the funds that the Ramblers need to protect the spaces we all love to walk.
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.
Laura Scarlett, director of data & digital transformation
Laura started at the Ramblers as a consultant in September 2017 to help us plan our data & digital strategy , and she is joining us for the next few years to implement an ambitious innovation programme which will create a new data infrastructure and transform all our ‘outward-facing’ tools and systems. Laura has spent her entire 30 year career helping organisations, both commercial and charitable, fulfil their aims through the management & use of data. Her most recent assignment was at The National Trust where she implemented a supporter loyalty platform to grow membership. Laura is Scottish, loves being outdoors with her family, friends and dogs and is a great believer in the wellbeing benefits of walking. She is particularly interested in contemporary conservation approaches, and enjoys learning about the various wilding projects going on in Knepp Sussex, Ennerdale in the Lakes and Oostvaardersplassen in the Netherlands.
Tompion Platt, director of advocacy and engagement
Tom joined the Ramblers in June 2018. Previous to that, he was head of policy and communications with Living Streets and a board member of the International Federation of Pedestrians.
For over eight years, Tom has campaigned across the UK to improve places for people on foot and promote the social, economic and health benefits of walking. He has led on several high profile campaigns and advised senior policy makers at a national level on the walking agenda. Tom is also a strong believer in the importance of grass-root campaigning and working with volunteers to effect change at a local level.
Tom is a passionate walker, whether it’s back in the Peak District where he grew up, or exploring a new city on foot.