Rebecca Dawson, chair
I believe that walking for pleasure is for everyone, and that the Ramblers is the organisation to help all those who want to explore the outdoors on foot. Walking became a big part of my life in my early 30s when I joined the Ramblers as a means to regularly walk with others, get fitter (and stay fit!) and meet new people. It wasn’t long before I was enthused by our mission and proceeded to get involved as a volunteer in my local Group, and later, with my local Area Council and then the board of trustees. Ramblers has given me the confidence to explore the outdoors that I lacked in my 20s, and I’ve since discovered a passion for long distance walking. Helping others to discover the joy of walking is what drives me. But it is important that Ramblers is not seen as just a collection of walking groups. We are campaigners, fighting to protect, preserve and enhance the places we walk, across England, Wales, and Scotland, and we are a movement of walkers helping others explore the outdoors on foot.
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.
Ronnie Forbes, vice chair
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.
Kate Ashbrook, ordinary member
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 Ramblers' trustee for 30 years (1982-2012), three times chair, president for four years, and now vice-president. Locally I am the footpath secretary for Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and West Middlesex Area. I am general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, patron of the Walkers are Welcome towns network and vice-president of the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society. I am also a former trustee of the Campaign for National Parks. Read my blog at https://campaignerkate.wordpress.com. Follow me on twitter @CampaignerKate
Alan Austin, Ramblers Cymru appointee
Alan is Chair of Powys Area and has been a Ramblers member for 30 years. His special mission is protection and improvement of rights of way. In his professional life he specialised in the effective management of people within organisations. He has worked with organisations of all sizes across a range of business sectors. Recently he carried out senior HR roles with Tarmac, O2 and Scottish Provident. Alan is a strong believer in clear communication. He is equally at home in the Board Room or on the Shop Floor and has a talent for getting to the roots of issues, especially people issues. Practical, real-world solutions are his speciality. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Personnel and Development. Passionate about the development of HR people, he has played an active part in the Institute as a Branch Chair and an External Examiner. He has presented on a range of people management subjects at conferences, public courses and to professional groups. Alan is now retired from full-time employment and undertakes a range of voluntary roles in his local area near the Elan Valley in Mid-Wales.
Jonathan Bergwerk, ordinary member
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.
Mark Chung, ordinary member
Like the rest of our members, I am passionate about walking and ensuring our greenspaces are protected. I joined the Burnley & Pendle Ramblers in 2007 and took over the role of Pendle Footpath Officer, which has given me a greater appreciation of why it’s imperative to protect our public rights of way. Before retiring, I spent over 40 years working in a variety of positions both in the UK and overseas, and I was fortunate in my career to meet some brilliant people, which has helped me improve my perspective on life, be more opened minded, and try to become a better human being. I’m usually wandering around the beautiful countryside of the South Pennines exploring new paths, leading walks and reporting any issues I come across! I’m also a volunteer ranger for Lancashire County Council and the Lancashire Wildlife Trust. My goal is to promote and encourage the benefits of walking to all members of our community, wherever they live.
Sophie Clissold-Lesser, ordinary member
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.
Richard May, ordinary member
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.
Malcolm McDonnell, ordinary member
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.
Alison Mitchell, convener, Ramblers Scotland appointee
From childhood I was taken out into the countryside to walk and joined the Ramblers over 30 years ago when a group was formed in my home city of Aberdeen - and I have been supporting them ever since. With a good knowledge of the Scottish countryside, I have taken on many voluntary roles within the Ramblers and other voluntary organisations, to help enhance our enjoyment from being outdoors. Currently I head up a team of volunteers organising the annual May weekend Gathering, which is a popular member’s benefit, as a festival of walking in a different part of Scotland each year. Having served on SCEC as a committee member, vice convener, and convener, my knowledge of the organisation has grown. From 2000-2010, I served as a Ramblers GB trustee and have also done two spells on the Board of Trustees ex officio as Scottish Council Convener. In my role as treasurer of the European Ramblers Association from 2009 - 2017, I was able to meet walkers from many different countries who also enjoy sharing their love of the countryside with others. My working life was spent in managerial roles in personnel, training, and finance in British Telecom, WRVS and the NHS.
Lucy Robinson, ordinary member
Lucy is a keen walker and passionate about the benefits of walking, both for individuals and for society as a whole. Lucy’s particular areas of interest are enhancing and protecting the Rights of Way network, with a particular focus on ensuring joined up access all along the coast and around estuaries; as well as encouraging and supporting councils to improve walking infrastructure in towns. Her professional background is in public and voluntary sector organisations at a strategic level, including policy formulation, partnership working and lobbying and influencing. Lucy's early career was as a senior civil servant providing policy advice to ministers on both transport and environment issues. Subsequently she was Director of Environment and Transport at Suffolk County Council where she was responsible for rights of way across the county, as well as the implementation of a capital investment scheme to encourage sustainable travel in Ipswich, including improving walking routes around the town.
Helen Tranter, ordinary member
Promoting access to the countryside has been my passion throughout my adult life. For many years, I worked for a local authority managing both urban parks and countryside sites, including rights of way, giving me much knowledge in the law relating to access and wildlife, dealing with landowners and recreational users, producing strategies and plans including a Rights of Way Improvement Plan, as well as organising a Local Access Forum. I joined the Ramblers in 1992 to support their campaigning work. In recent years, I have walked regularly with the Loddon Valley Ramblers in Berkshire and am a Footpath Warden in my local parish. I have completed Hadrian’s Wall, the Coast to Coast path and the Ridgeway and am now walking the Isle of Wight Coastal Path. I have been a trustee of GreenSpace and the Landscape Institute. I come from a farming family in Cumbria. I aim to use my expertise in, and knowledge of, land management and rural policy to help preserve and improve access and our rights of way system. I would like to see more support for our National Trails and better path maintenance.
Tanya Curry, interim chief executive
Tanya joined the Ramblers in February 2020 as interim Chief Executive. With over 20 years’ experience in the voluntary sector, Tanya really enjoys developing people and organisations to meet their true potential.
Having worked in a number of senior roles and with over a decade as a charity Chief Executive, Tanya has a deep understanding of how organisations need to perform to deliver results with impact, whilst always taking into account the complexities of organisational cultures, income generation, supporting donors, recruiting and retaining talented teams as well as the core need for excellent governance.
As an experienced interim leader, Tanya has recently worked with Sue Ryder and Teenage Cancer Trust to deliver transformational change. She has experience and a passion for rapidly diagnosing challenges and working with senior teams to develop solutions which positively impact the charity. Tanya is here supporting the Ramblers in delivering its mission, whilst working with the team to build strong foundations across the whole organisation, creating a more efficient operating environment in these new times.
In her personal world, Tanya is a Trustee of Anglia Ruskin University Students Union, she also enjoys reading, gardening and walking as well as eating too much cake and chocolate!
Tanya will be with the Ramblers until Spring 2022, whilst the Board embark on the recruitment of their permanent Chief Executive.
Tompion Platt, director of operations and advocacy
Tom joined the Ramblers in June 2018. He is a passionate advocate for walking and the benefits of being outdoors. Before the Ramblers, he was head of policy and communications with Living Streets and a board member of the International Federation of Pedestrians.
For over eleven years, Tom has worked 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 spends most weekends walking in the woods close to Cambridge with his two young children and also likes to return to the Peak District, where he grew up, to walk whenever he can.
Suzy Russell, director of finance, performance and impact
Suzy is a qualified certified accountant with extensive experience as a finance and operations leader in private, owner managed businesses, and in strategic business partnering, transformational change, and most recently in operating at board level as Managing Director of Business Services for Swarovski UK and Ireland.
As well as the formulation, execution, and measurement of strategic business initiatives with a focus on driving and sustaining growth in her previous roles, she has fostered cross-functional expertise and commitment, and navigated organisations, teams and colleagues through periods of significant change, challenge and uncertainty, and is a big advocate of professional development, coaching and mentoring initiatives.
Her desire to apply her extensive professional experience gained within the private sector to a leadership role within an organisation in the charity sector that she has a cultural connection with, was inspired by her involvement in the incorporation, governance, regulatory reporting, and financial management processes for the Swarovski Foundation (a grant giving charity).
Passionate about exercise and sport in general, Suzy has played competitive tennis from a young age and still competes at club and senior county level. She is also a Kent Lawn Tennis Association volunteer. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends in the ever-inspiring great outdoors and has an eclectic taste in music to accompany her walks and thoughts.
Sherine Krause, interim director of income and marketing
Sherine joined Ramblers in July 2021 and heads up the income and marketing Directorate. She has a huge commitment to the voluntary sector, having worked over many years as director, chief executive and trustee for a variety of charitable causes.
Sherine’s focus has always been to help charities increase their impact, initially through fundraising but over the years the scope of her expertise has gone on to include marketing, communications, campaigns and policy and advocacy work. Of particular relevance to Ramblers is time spent working with a wide variety of membership organisations including The MS Society, The Labour Party, The Natural History Museum and The Women’s Institute.
Having always done some form of volunteering, Sherine’s most recent voluntary role was as Chair of Spires, a fantastic local charity supporting vulnerable people in around her own South London community. She joins Ramblers at a period of great ambition and great energy and is keen to support the new team as it shapes and develops until she hands over to a new director.
Brendan Paddy, director Scotland
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.
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.